Baltimore City Council President Brandon M. Scott (D) this week released a month-old poll that was conducted for his mayoral campaign showing him with a wide lead over his opponents — described as “insurmountable” by his pollster.
Releasing the poll can certainly be seen as a sign of political strength — and should reassure any supporters who may have become jittery over the heavy spending by one of Scott’s opponents, businessman Robert Wallace, who is running as an independent.
But beyond the horse race numbers, the poll also shows where voters’ priorities lie — and how they may be responding to Scott’s vision for governing the city.
First, to the candidates: In the general election matchup, Scott was favored by 65% of the voters, compared to 14% for Wallace and 6% for Republican Shannon Wright. Scott — who has been council president since the summer of 2019 and has spent nine years on the council overall — was viewed favorably by 66% of voters, and received the same favorability rating from Black and white voters.
Even when pollsters read positive and negative statements about the candidates, voters’ preferences were unmoved.
“In a moment when most think Baltimore is off on the wrong track, Scott’s wide lead demonstrates voters are giving him a clear mandate to govern and turn the page on the direction of the city,” the Global Strategy Group wrote in a memo accompanying the poll.
GSG, a national Democratic polling and corporate consulting firm, surveyed 400 likely general election voters on Sept. 4-6. The poll had a 4.9-point margin of error.
Almost unanimously, voters said they want the next mayor to focus on education, crime, public health and economic recovery. But by very wide margins, they also supported two issues that Scott has been championing — equitable economic development and building a new youth sports complex in the city.
Twenty-three percent of voters said the most important issue that would affect their vote for mayor was “security/safety/crime,” while 12% answered police reform. Asked to identify the next most important issue that would impact their vote, 16% answered education.
Asked what the top priority should be for Baltimore Police, 45% of voters — 57% of white voters and 39% of Black voters — said violent offenders. Twenty-four percent of voters — 26% Black and 17% white — answered gun trafficking.
Eighty-six percent of voters said they supported government efforts to reverse “years of racial inequality caused by government policy” by prioritizing funding for Black neighborhoods that have seen less economic development than others. Eight-four percent said they favored a proposal to build a new youth sports complex in the city.
Two-thirds of Baltimore residents said the city government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been “about right.” Eighty percent said they want the state to proceed cautiously on any moves to further reopen the state economy.
Baltimore City voters were also asked how they viewed various people and institutions:
Black Lives Matter — 79% favorable, 13% unfavorable
Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) — 62% favorable, 26% unfavorable
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D) — 39% favorable, 37% unfavorable
Baltimore City Council — 47% favorable, 33% unfavorable
Del. Nick J. Mosby (D), leading candidate for City Council president — 46% favorable, 23% unfavorable
Baltimore police — 45% favorable, 42% unfavorable
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael S. Harrison — 18% favorable, 12% unfavorable