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Election 2024 Government & Politics

Poll: Biden, Moore ride approval bump; differing views on juvenile justice

The Maryland State House is seen from Maryland Avenue in Annapolis. File photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

The number of Marylanders who approve of the job performance of both President Joseph Biden and Gov. Wes Moore ticked up slightly, according to a newly released poll.

Both first term Democrats posted 5-point jumps in their approval numbers compared to a June poll taken by Annapolis-based Gonzales Research & Media Services.

“We’re not sure what’s happening elsewhere, but in Maryland President Joe Biden is like the old Timex watch: he takes a licking and keeps on ticking,” said pollster Patrick Gonzales.

The poll released Tuesday morning asked voters about both Democratic leaders as well issues related to juvenile crime that show a sharp divide in the approach of white and Black Democrats surveyed.

The results are part of a poll conducted between Sept. 18 and 28 of 818 registered Maryland voters who said they are likely to vote in the 2024 general election. The margin of error for the poll is 3.5%.

Moore, a first-year executive, saw his approval rating increase to 60%, up from 55% in a June Gonzales poll, with 25% saying they disapproved of his performance.

Driving the increase were Republicans, 30% of whom said they approved of the governor’s job performance over the last nine months. In June, 19% of Republicans gave Moore a thumbs up.

“It’s significant. I can’t remember a recent poll in which an elected Democrat received 30% of the Republican bloc when it comes to job approval,” said Gonzales.

But the poll does not delve deeper into specific reasons for the GOP bump for Moore.

“My sense is that he hasn’t offended anybody yet,” said Gonzales. “I didn’t do an ‘approve or disapprove of Moore the Democrat’. It could be attributable to the fact that he’s relatively new in office or that there is still some chunk out there that doesn’t yet associate Wes Moore with being a Democrat.”

The governor also saw a slight bump from independent voters. In the current survey, 53% of independent voters approved of Moore’s performance compared to 47% in the June Gonzales poll.

Moore’s support among his own party remained statistically flat at 78%.

Voter registration in Maryland runs roughly 2-1 in favor of Democrats over Republicans.

Maryland voters may be “coalescing’ around Biden.

Biden also continues to do well in Maryland with 57% overall saying they support his performance heading into the 2024 campaign.

Not surprising is that most of Biden’s support comes from his own party — 87% said they approved. Meanwhile, 90% of Maryland Republicans disapproved.

“We’re getting to the point where the election is beginning to ratchet up in the consciousness of some voters,” said Gonzales. “We’re almost a year out and every day it is in the national news, and I think what you’re seeing is the party coalescing around Biden,” the pollster said.

The most recent survey shows a 5-point jump for Biden compared to the 52% approval number in the June Gonzales poll.

The poll also found that former President Donald Trump remains unpopular. Trump, the 2024 Republican frontrunner who faces four criminal indictments, garnered just 37% of those surveyed who approved of his past job performance.

Eighty-three percent of Republicans supported Trump while 87% of Democrats said they did not approve. That figure includes 77% who said they strongly disapproved of Trump.

In the 2020 election, Biden won Maryland with 65.4% of the vote compared to Trump’s 32.2%.

Black, white Democrats divided on violent juvenile crime

The Gonzales poll also tested Marylanders’ attitudes on charging juveniles accused of violent crimes as adults.

“It’s a complex issue,” said Gonzales.

Statewide, 66% said they believed a 12-year-old who takes a loaded gun to school should be criminally charged. In that scenario, 31% disagreed.

The response was driven by 57% of Democrats, 81% of Republicans and 69% of independents who supported criminal charges for minors with guns.

Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed said teenagers between 14 and 17 years old should be charged as adults if a charge involves rape or murder.

Of those, 71% of Republicans and 69% of independents agreed. Among Democrats surveyed, just 46% said they agreed with charging those teenagers as adults.

Overall, 59% of those asked said they favored “laws that are strict, which hold individuals accountable for their behavior” compared to 35% who preferred a degree of leniency believing “that society is responsible for much of the abhorrent behavior committed by those under the age of 18.”

The question revealed what Gonzales said was an underlying deep divide between Black and white Democrats.

In the poll, 62% of white Democrats favored leniency to better help those violent offenders who are minors. An identical percentage of Black Democrats favored stricter laws that hold “individuals responsible and accountable for their behavior.”

Gonzales called the results “unexpected.”

“That was the most stark thing for me,” said Gonzales. “When you see that within the Democratic Party, you’ve got an issue where it’s going to be hard to hold together a coalition as a Democrat. White liberal Democrats, on that issue, are just out of sync with their Black counterparts.”


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Poll: Biden, Moore ride approval bump; differing views on juvenile justice