Results of Countywide survey on area issues

| March 26, 2014
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surveyStudents assisting the Center for the Study of Local Issues (CSLI) at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) conducted a survey of 460 Anne Arundel County residents March 5th, 6th, 10th, and 11th. Students asked respondents about a variety of issues confronting the state and county. 

At least 50 percent favored:

  • Increasing the state’s minimum wage (60 percent said “support”);
  • Changing gun control laws to make the purchase of shotguns as strictly regulated as the purchase of handguns (51 percent);
  • Reducing the estate tax in Maryland so that it only applies to estates over $5 million (69 percent);
  • A later start time for high schools (55 percent);
  • Increasing the availability of pre-kindergarten schooling for low income families (82 percent); and,
  • The construction of a new high school in the Crofton area (64 percent).

Some issues received a plurality, but not a majority, in favor:

  • “Leaving unchanged the county’s storm-water fee meant to help clean up the Bay” received a plurality in favor (44 percent vs. 41 percent opposed); and,
  • A decrease in Maryland’s corporate income tax.

Only with regarding to the proposal, “Legalization of marijuana for recreational use, with a high tax and restrictions against the sale to minors” were at least 50 percent opposed (36 percent support; 50 percent oppose; 13 percent unsure). Demographic associations such as party and ideology are described later in the press release.

The survey also asked about perceptions of the local economy and its impact upon residents, Maryland’s health insurance exchange, likely votes for governor and county executive as well as job approval for governor, county executive, president and Congress. A detailed review of these main themes as well as other results follows the summary of findings. The actual questionnaire and percentages can be found in Appendix A at the end of the press release.

Summary of Other Findings 

Most important problem facing county residents: 16 percent cited the economy, 22 percent said taxes. Government as inefficient, corrupt or unethical was cited by 8 percent, down from 17 percent in October 2013.

Perceptions of the economy: Fifty percent viewed the county’s economy as excellent or good – down from last fall when it was 53 percent; 40 percent said the same for Maryland’s economy (unchanged) and 21 percent favorably rated the national economy, up 7 points.

Right direction/wrong direction: The percentage of those saying that the county was moving in the right direction was unchanged (50 percent). Smaller numbers felt that the state (31 percent – down four points) or the country (27 percent – up 17 points from a low point last fall during the partial federal government shutdown) was heading in the right direction.

Economic conditions experienced by individuals: Various measures have been tracked since March 2008. The spring 2014 survey found only small changes: a 4 percentage point increase in concern about taxes and a 5 percentage point decrease in the number saying that they had received a salary or income increase lately. On a positive note, there was a 4 percentage point decrease in those saying that they were delaying a major purchase.

Consumer confidence: Reversing the downturn in perceptions from last fall, all indicators – employment, growth, inflation and personal financial situation showed improvements this spring.

Maryland’s Health Insurance Web site: Twelve percent had attempted to access the site. Most (81 percent) had negative impressions. A plurality (49 percent) said that they generally support the effort to extend health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (vs. 40 percent opposed and 10 percent undecided).

Voter Preferences for Governor and County Executive: Most voters claimed to be undecided about both these races. In the gubernatorial race, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown was leading among likely voters expressing a preference among the three Democratic candidates. Larry Hogan was leading among Republican candidates. For county executive, incumbent Laura Newman seemed favored over opponent Delegate Steve Schuh. George Johnson is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Presidential job approval: President Obama’s job approval dropped one point from last fall to 39 percent.

Congressional job approval: Only 9 percent approved of the job being done by Congress (up three points from October 2013).

Which party do you trust? The percentage favoring Democrats dropped slightly from 34 to 32 percent since last fall. The percentage favoring Republicans rose 8 points from 23 to 31 percent. The percentage saying “neither” dropped 8 points to 29 percent.

Methodology: The survey polled a random sample of 460 county residents who were at least 18 years old. It was conducted March 5th 6th, 10th and 11th, 2014, during evening hours. Phone numbers were derived from a database of listed landline numbers, cell phone numbers as well as computer chosen, randomly assigned numbers. There was about a 4.6 percent statistical margin of error for the overall sample; the error rate was higher for subgroups such as “Democrats.” The dataset was weighted by gender and political party to better represent the general population. College students were trained and used as telephone interviewers.

Contact Dan Nataf, Ph.D., center director, for additional comments or questions at 410-777-2733 and ddnataf@aacc.edu. Check the CSLI website for results from this and previous surveys: www2.aacc.edu/csli.

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