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Government & Politics

Poll: Md voters fairly content, seek a bold agenda in upcoming legislative session (if it’s not too expensive)

The Maryland State House. Photo by Bryan P. Sears.

On the eve of a new year — and a new General Assembly session — Maryland voters are generally optimistic about the future, though many have jitters about inflation and crime in Baltimore. They are also looking to their government leaders for bold solutions — though it isn’t clear whether there’s the political will or the desire by taxpayers to pay for the initiatives that may be needed to move the state’s economy forward.

Those are some of the conclusions of a recent issues survey for Maryland that was taken by a Democratic pollster and commissioned by a leading Annapolis lobbying firm and a politically wired public affairs strategist.

The poll showed that many voters are comfortable in their own lives and are enthusiastic about several proposed measures that could improve Maryland’s economy and create more opportunity and equity for residents who are struggling financially.

“I think one of the takeaways is, particularly with budget cuts on the horizon and so much focus on them, that Maryland voters are relatively optimistic and doing OK,” said Donna Victoria, whose Takoma Park-based polling firm, Victoria Research, conducted the survey from Nov. 9 to Nov. 14. “It’s not the doom and gloom about the economy that the mainstream media is promoting.”

The poll was broken into two parts, testing the opinions of 813 likely 2024 general election voters of all political persuasions, and 502 registered Baltimore City Democrats who are likely to vote in the city’s primaries next December. The statewide survey had a 3.3-point margin of error, while the Baltimore Democratic portion of the survey had a 4.4-point error margin.

The 45-question poll was paid for by the Annapolis lobbying firm Perry White Ross and Jacobson, whose senior partner is Tim Perry, a former chief of staff to the late Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D), and Blended Public Affairs, whose principal is Alexandra Hughes, a former chief of staff to House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) and the late Speaker Mike Busch (D).

Both firms have an array of clients who will be closely monitoring the developments in state government in the months ahead. Perry White Ross and Jacobson is one of the top-grossing lobbying firms in the state.

In the poll, the basic sentiment from voters is that the state economy is in good shape and that their own personal financial standing is also decent. Asked to rate economic conditions in Maryland, 9% of the respondents in the statewide survey answered excellent, while 42% said good, 36% said not so good, 11% said poor, and 2% weren’t sure. Among Baltimore City Democrats, 5% said excellent, 34% said good, 40% said not so good, 17% said poor, and 4% weren’t sure.

Asked to assess their own financial situation “for the next year or so,” 32% of statewide voters said they were doing well, 17% said they were “doing well and saving for things I want,” 31% said they were living paycheck to paycheck and 15% said they were struggling. Six percent said they weren’t sure. Among Baltimore City Democrats, 29% said they were doing well, 13% said they were doing well and saving, 35% said they were living paycheck to paycheck, 16% said they were struggling, and 7% said they weren’t sure.

Statewide voters said fighting inflation should be policymakers’ top priority, with fighting crime a close second. Considerably farther down the priority list were, in order, health care and prescription drug affordability, lower taxes, improving K-12 education, attracting new jobs and economic growth, stronger gun bans, protect access to abortion, better road and transit infrastructure, defending democracy and fighting voter suppression, reducing climate change with green energy, and Chesapeake Bay health.

For Baltimore Democrats, crime was far and away the No. 1 issue, with education and stronger gun laws bunched together in second and third place. Rounding out the list, in order: health care, transportation, new jobs, inflation, abortion rights, voting rights, lower taxes, climate change and Bay health.

Victoria said it was apparent from the poll that voters are well aware that they have “a new generation of leaders” and are looking to them to find creative solutions to the state’s challenges.

Predictably, Maryland voters believe they pay too much taxes — two-thirds of voters gave that answer in the statewide survey, and just a tad less said the same in the Baltimore City poll. But overall, voters seemed reasonably satisfied that they were getting a decent value for the taxes they pay.

Asked to grade the services and quality of life they derive from state government for their tax dollar, 8% of statewide voters gave an A grade, 28% said B, 34% said C, 16% said D, 11% said F, and 4% weren’t sure. Among Baltimore City Democrats, 4% gave an A grade, 24% said B, 34% said C, 19% said D, 14% said F, and 5% weren’t sure.

“Nobody loves paying for things,” Victoria said. “But people have a sense that they have a pretty good life here.”

Where the economic power lies

Marylanders are also taking a divergent view of where the economic power lies in the state. To the question “Do you think that the Washington, D.C., region of Maryland or the Baltimore region is the main driver of the economy for the state?” 53% of statewide voters answered the D.C. region, 24% said the Baltimore region, and 23% weren’t sure. Baltimore City Democrats were split into thirds on the question.

The pollster asked voters about several potential policy initiatives or government investments that could boost the state economy and in all cases found widespread support from Marylanders in both survey samples. The initiatives were:

  • State investments to keep the Washington Commanders’ stadium in Maryland (70% of statewide voters approved)
  • Policies that encourage the construction of data centers in the state (74%)
  • The redevelopment of underused areas in Baltimore for multifamily housing (80%)
  • Construction of more affordable housing generally (78%)
  • Expansion of offshore wind energy (72%)
  • A push for more biotech, cybersecurity and health care facilities (84%)
  • Establishment of a cyber hub near the proposed new FBI headquarters in Greenbelt (72%)
  • Taking advantage of the state’s laws protecting abortion rights and boosting education spending to attract out-of-state businesses (76%)
  • Promoting a newly revamped Preakness Stakes and tying it to the state’s historic horse racing industry (66%)
  • Doing a better job of promoting the state’s natural resources and history for tourism (80%)
  • Allowing beer and wine sales in grocery stores (76%)
  • Creating a better mass transit system in the Baltimore area (78%)

Beyond supporting these initiatives, survey respondents overwhelmingly said they saw a statewide economic benefit to them.

Asked about two potential new revenue sources for state government, more than two-thirds of voters said they supported Maryland joining half a dozen other states in legalizing and taxing iGaming. More than half said they supported charging out-of-state drivers more for Maryland tolls than in-state residents.

“There was a general receptivity to anything that could expand the business and economic footprint of Maryland,” Victoria said.

On other issues likely to come before the General Assembly in 2024:

  • 58% of statewide voters, and 55% of Democrats in Baltimore City, said they would support a bill to legalize medical aid-in-dying.
  • More than two-thirds of statewide voters, and more than three-quarters of Baltimore Democrats, said they would support legislation that would encourage greater housing density.
  • 59% of statewide voters, and 70% of Baltimore Democrats, support the state moving to “swiftly” regulate artificial intelligence.
  • 70% of statewide voters, and 86% of Democrats in Baltimore, said the state should do more to reduce disparities in the state, especially as the U.S. Supreme Court chips away at diversity and equity programs.
  • Three-quarters of voters agreed that revitalization of Harborplace in downtown Baltimore, and state investments in the Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens stadiums are important to the city’s success.


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Poll: Md voters fairly content, seek a bold agenda in upcoming legislative session (if it’s not too expensive)