Goucher College Poll Results: Marylanders recognize need for improvements in public schools but still largely unaware of Kirwan Commission; Residents view state taxes as too high, support progressive income tax structure, divided on the legalization of sports betting;
Gov. Hogan remains popular
The Goucher College Poll asked Maryland residents their views on various statewide issues, including the direction of and most important issue facing the state, how they viewed Maryland as a place to live and work, and their opinions toward Gov. Larry Hogan, the Maryland General Assembly, the Kirwan Commission, public education, and taxes. Residents were also asked whether they were concerned about an outbreak of a disease like the Coronavirus. The Goucher College Poll surveyed 713 Maryland adults from February 13-18 and has a margin of error of +/-3.7 percent. Results by voter registration and other key demographics are provided.

Download the complete results, including methodology and question design. To view archived polls, please visit www.goucher.edu/poll.

Views Toward Public Education and the Kirwan Commission

Residents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with several statements about public education in Maryland.

  • 93 percent agree that “public schools should offer more job or vocational training programs,” 4 percent disagree.
  • 85 percent agree that “the salaries of public school teachers are too low,” 10 percent disagree.
  • 76 percent agree that “many public school buildings and facilities in Maryland are run-down,” 16 percent disagree.
  • 69 percent agree that “public schools in Maryland don’t receive enough state funding,18 percent disagree.
  • 64 percent agree that “state funding for public schools is not spent effectively by school administrators,” 19 percent disagree.

Marylanders remain largely unaware of the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. Sixty-nine percent say they have heard or read “nothing at all” about it.

Views Toward Taxes

Nearly three-quarters of Maryland residents say they prefer an income tax system where “people with higher incomes pay a higher tax rate than those with lower incomes.” Twenty-four percent think that “people regardless of their income should pay the same tax rate.”

When asked about the relationship between taxes and government services in Maryland:

  • 37 percent would rather keep state services and taxes about the same as we have them now.
  • 28 percent would rather have more or improved state government services if that meant more taxes.
  • 28 percent would rather have fewer state government services in order to reduce taxes.

Fifty-one percent of Marylanders say that the overall amount of state taxes they have to pay is “too high” and 44 percent say it’s “about right.” Only 3 percent say it’s “too low.”

“While the public continues to be largely unaware of the Kirwan Commission itself, large majorities of Marylanders recognize that public schools are facing the very problems its recommendations were designed to address. Residents across party lines largely agree that public schools need more vocational training and better-paid public school teachers,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center. “At the same time, a plurality of residents want to keep state services and taxes at the current level, and a majority believe that state taxes are currently too high. Our results suggest that the costs of the Kirwan recommendations, rather than the merits of the plan, will be of concern to Marylanders.”

Gov. Hogan, the Maryland General Assembly, and Perceptions of Maryland

Gov. Hogan maintains his strong and stable job approval rating. Sixty-two percent of Marylanders approve of the job Larry Hogan is doing as governor, 20 percent disapprove, and 17 percent say they don’t know. Forty-one percent of Marylanders approve of the job the Maryland General Assembly is doing; 27 percent disapprove, and 29 percent say they don’t know.

Forty-nine percent say Maryland is heading in the right direction, and 32 percent say Maryland is off on the wrong track. At this time last year, 59 percent said Maryland was heading in the right direction.

Twenty percent of Marylanders identify crime and criminal justice as the most important issue facing the state of Maryland today. Seventeen percent say education and 15 percent of Marylanders identify economic issues—jobs, taxes, or economic growth—as the most important.

Residents were also asked to rate Maryland on a variety of different quality of life items:

  • 61 percent rate Maryland as a “good” or “excellent” place to raise a family.
  • 58 percent rate Maryland as a “good” or “excellent” place to find a job.
  • 47 percent rate Maryland as a “good” or “excellent” place to get a quality K-12 education.
  • 39 percent rate Maryland as a “good” or “excellent” place to run a business.
  • 27 percent rate Maryland as a “good” or “excellent” place to retire.

Marylanders are a happy group of folks. 30 percent and 61 percent say they are “very happy” or “pretty happy,” respectively. Only 8 percent say they are “not too happy.”

Opinions Toward the Legalization of Sports Betting in Maryland

Maryland residents are divided over whether to expand gambling to allow for sports betting either online or at locations in Maryland. Respondents were randomly selected to receive one of two questions about sports betting:

  • 47 percent support expanding gambling to allow sports betting online in Maryland; 43 percent oppose.
  • 45 percent support expanding gambling to allow sports betting at locations like race tracks, casinos, or stadiums in Maryland; 49 percent oppose.

Concerns About Coronavirus

Fifty-six percent of Marylanders are “somewhat” or “very” concerned over an outbreak of a disease like the Coronavirus, and 43 percent of Maryland residents are “not at all” or “a little” concerned.

In October 2014 and September 2016 the Goucher College Poll asked Marylanders how concerned they were about Ebola and Zika virus, respectively.

  • 64 percent were “somewhat” or “very” concerned over an outbreak of a disease like the Zika virus.
  • 66 percent were “somewhat” or “very” concerned over an outbreak of a disease like Ebola.

About the Goucher College Poll

The Goucher College Poll is conducted under the auspices of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College. The center is directed by Dr. Mileah Kromer, associate professor of political science.

The Goucher College Poll is funded by the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center endowment and does not take additional funding from outside sources. The mission of the Goucher College Poll is to improve public discourse in Maryland by providing neutral, unbiased, and independent information on citizen perceptions and opinions. The data collected by the poll are used to support faculty and student research.

The Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center is a member of the Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations and the American Association for Public Opinion Research Transparency Initiative.

For more information, or to view archived polls, please visit www.goucher.edu/poll.

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Scott E