Goucher Poll Releases New Results

The Goucher Poll asked Maryland citizens for their perspectives regarding the state’s gubernatorial candidates, political parties, most important issue facing Maryland, personal financial situation, Governor Martin O’Malley and his presidential run, President Obama, and Congress. Residents were also asked about the proposal to move the official start date of Maryland public schools until after Labor Day, as well as their views on the possibility of an Ebola outbreak.

Ebola Outbreak and Preparedness

Marylanders are concerned about an outbreak of a disease like Ebola happening in the United States. Sixty-six percent say they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned that an outbreak of a disease like Ebola will happen in the United States; 33 percent are either “a little” or “not at all” concerned. When asked about the preparedness of the Maryland health care system to handle an outbreak, 44 percent think Maryland is unprepared, and 38 think Maryland is prepared.

Favorability of Gubernatorial Candidates and Perceptions of Political Parties

Thirty-two percent of residents have a favorable opinion of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown, while 35 percent hold an unfavorable opinion. Another 32 percent indicate they “don’t know” whether they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion.

When asked about Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan, 28 percent of residents have favorable opinion, and 27 percent have an unfavorable opinion. Forty-five percent say they “don’t know” how to rate Hogan as a candidate. It must be noted that the candidates’ political party affiliations were not included in the wording of these specific poll questions.

It must be noted that the candidates’ political party affiliations were not included in the wording of these specific poll questions.

Marylanders were also asked which political party—the Republican or Democratic Party—they had the most confidence in to address various issues. Residents have more confidence in the Democratic Party to handle environmental, social, transportation, education, and job creation issues, while they expressed similar amounts of confidence in the Republican and Democratic Party to address economic development, taxes, and criminal justice issues.

  • Environmental issues: Democrats (57%)/Republicans (23%)
  • Economic development: Democrats (43%)/Republicans (38%)
  • Social issues: Democrats (61%)/Republicans (21%)
  • Transportation issues: Democrats (48%)/Republicans (24%)
  • Job creation: Democrats (44%)/Republicans (34%)
  • Taxes: Democrats (41%)/Republicans (40%)
  • Education: Democrats (52%)/Republicans (25%)
  • Crime and criminal justice: Democrats (39%)/Republicans (36%)

“Without the respective party affiliations of the candidates given in the question, it appears many Marylanders are simply unsure how to rate Brown and Hogan,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center. “This is not the case when asked about policy areas; Marylanders are sure and sometimes divided on which party is best equipped to handle some of the key campaign issues. The clock is ticking for the candidates to tell Marylanders who they are and where they stand.”

Most Important Issue, Direction of State, and Personal Financial Situation

The economy and jobs (25 percent) continue to be the most important issue facing the state, followed by taxes (18 percent) and education (11 percent).

Marylanders are less optimistic on the direction of the state than they were a year ago. Thirty-eight percent think things in the state are headed in the right direction, and 52 percent say Maryland has gotten off on the wrong track.

When asked how their current personal financial situation compares to a year ago, 31 percent indicated it is worse; 41 percent say it is about the same; and 26 percent say it is better.

Looking ahead, 47 percent think their personal financial situation will get better over the next year, while 14 percent think it will get worse. Thirty-five percent think their situation will stay about the same.

Governor O’Malley and His Potential Presidential Run

Forty percent of Marylanders have a favorable opinion of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and 43 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him.

Nineteen percent of residents think Governor O’Malley should run for president in 2016, while 65 percent do not think he should run.

President Obama and U.S. Congress

Fifty-four percent of Marylanders approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, about the same as his approval rating measured by the Goucher Poll a year ago. Thirty-seven percent disapprove of the job the president is doing.

Marylanders continue to be displeased with the U.S. Congress: 79 percent disapprove, and 14 approve of the way Congress is handling its job. When asked to evaluate the job their representative in Congress was doing, 49 percent approve, and 29 percent disapprove.

Post-Labor Day Start Date for Maryland Public Schools

The proposal to move the official start date of Maryland public schools until after the Labor Day Weekend is popular among Marylanders. Seventy-one percent support the proposal, while 17 percent are opposed.

About the Goucher Poll

The Goucher Poll is conducted under the auspices of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center, which is housed in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Goucher College. Directed by Mileah Kromer, the Goucher Poll conducts surveys on public policy, economic, and social issues in Maryland.

Goucher College supports the Goucher Poll as part of its mission to instill in its students a sense of community where discourse is valued and practiced. The Goucher Poll is fully funded by the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center endowment and does not take additional funding from outside sources.

The Goucher Poll seeks to improve public discourse in the state by providing neutral and nonbiased information on citizen perceptions and opinions. The data collected by the Goucher Poll are used to support faculty and student research.

Survey Methodology

To ensure all Maryland citizens are represented, the Goucher Poll is conducted using random digit dialing (RDD) of a county-level stratified random sample using landline and cellular telephone numbers. The sample of telephone numbers for the survey is obtained from Survey Sampling International, LLC (http://www.surveysampling.com/).

The survey was conducted Sunday, September 28, to Thursday, October 2. During this time, interviews were conducted 12-9 p.m. on Sunday and 5-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The Goucher Poll uses Voxco Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) software to administer its surveys. Interviews are conducted by a staff of professionally trained, paid, student interviewers.

Interviewers attempted to reach respondents with working phone numbers a maximum of five times. Only Maryland adults—residents aged 18 years or older—were eligible to participate. Interviews were not conducted with adults who were reached at business or work numbers. Fifty percent of the interviews were conducted on a cell phone, and 50 percent were conducted on a landline.

Interviews for this survey were completed with 708 Maryland citizens. For a sample size of 708, there is a 95 percent probability the survey results have a plus or minus 3.7 percentage point sampling error from the actual population distribution for any given survey question. Margins of error are higher for subsamples.

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