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Spring survey of local issues released by Anne Arundel Community College

| April 12, 2019, 02:02 PM
Rams Head
Dan Nataf

Dan Nataf, PhD | Director | Center for the Study of Local Issues | Anne Arundel Community College

A survey of 622 Anne Arundel County residents conducted March 28-April 5 by the Center for the Study of Local Issues (CSLI) at Anne Arundel Community College found that 22 percent of the respondents placed the abuse of drugs as the top problem facing the residents of Anne Arundel County, with a combined 30 percent saying either drugs or crime (down slightly from last fall’s total of 31 percent). In a separate question, 60 percent said that “drug use among high school students” was a “very serious” problem. The “high cost of living” received the second highest score (56 percent) within this group of items. The survey asked respondents whether they supported or opposed a variety of proposals.

Abuse of drugs as the top problem facing the residents of Anne Arundel County! Click To Tweet

A few questions were only asked of the online panel including whether counties should have a veto over the building of a new bridge over the Chesapeake Bay and “making it easier for a woman to have a later term abortion if her life or health is threatened.” All open-ended questions were only asked of the online panel.

A majority of respondents supported the following:

  • Banning contributions to local officials and candidates from developers with projects pending approval before the county (80 percent support);
  • Requiring buyers of rifles and shotguns to have a qualifying license and be subject to a background check prior to purchase (78 percent);
  • Increasing bus services from the Eastern Shore to destinations in Anne Arundel County and to the DC metro system (71 percent);
  • Expanding bus routes or frequency within the county (68 percent);
  • Expanding the current Chesapeake Bay Bridge so that it can handle more traffic (66 percent);
  • Building a commuter rail line on Route 50 from the Eastern Shore to the DC metro system with a stop in Annapolis (62 percent);
  • Requiring ninth graders to take a course about diversity and inclusion (57 percent support); and,
  • Enabling local school boards to set the start and stop date for the school year (57 percent).

Other items involving tax proposals, subsidies to Laurel racetrack, moving the Preakness race from Pimlico to Laurel and adopting a system of public financing for local elections obtained less than a majority of support.

A section of the survey asked about town meetings held by County Executive Steuart Pittman. Only one third (34 percent) were aware of such meetings; just three percent of the respondents claimed to have attended. A majority (59 percent) believed that “he is helping to increase trust in local government.” More questions about the county executive are discussed later in the press release.

The survey also updated other benchmark questions such as the right vs. wrong direction for the county, state and country. Economic conditions ratings were also updated as well as questions about personal economic circumstances such as facing the possibility of unemployment, the cost of education and health care.

A detailed review of these issues as well as other results follows the summary of findings below. The review examines the impact of party and gender upon the results. The actual questionnaire and percentages can be found in Appendix A on page 53 of the press release. Open-ended comments offered by online respondents can be found in Appendices 1-19 starting on page 63.

LISTEN

We spoke with Dr. Nataf on Wednesday about the survey, some of the challenges, some of the surprises, and we delved into some of the findings!  Have a listen!

 

Will County Executive Pittman better manage growth/development, and will he will work well together with the council to solve problems (11 percent very confident, 42 percent somewhat confident) Click To Tweet

 

Summary of Main Findings

Most Important Problem Facing County Residents: Additional details are available in the text (p. 5-7).

Right Direction/Wrong Direction: The percentage of those saying that the county was moving in the right direction was down from 57 percent last fall to 51 percent this spring. A year earlier the figure had been 47 percent, so this is within the recent general range. Regarding the state, there was a similar decrease from 63 to 58 percent from last fall to this spring. The percentage applicable to the country also returned to a similar percentage from one year ago (26 percent; this spring 27 percent) down from 31 percent last fall (pp. 8-13).

Rating Economic Conditions – County, State and Nation: For the county, the percentage saying “excellent” or “good” dropped from 75 percent last fall to 71 percent this spring. There was a small decrease for the state – from 70 percent last fall to 66 percent this spring. The federal level was essentially unchanged, dropping one point from 50 to 49 percent (pp. 14-18).

Economic Conditions Applying to Respondents: The changes from fall 2018 to spring 2019 were modest and mixed. Residents continued to express concern with inflation and taxes, but also featured a higher percentage receiving a salary/income increase. The analysis shows the impact of gender as well as income upon the likelihood that groups will be impacted by adverse conditions (pp. 18-21).

Support or Opposition to Various Proposals at the National, State and Local levels: Some of these were mentioned above and will be reviewed in more detail later in the press release.

National questions focused on issues such as declaring a national emergency on the border, using government shutdowns, tuition free college, legalizing recreational marijuana at the federal level (none received a majority disfavored) and well as a wealth tax and a strong effort to fight carbon emissions (both obtained majorities in support) (pp. 22-25).

Health Insurance: The online panel was asked about three approaches to providing health insurance – rating each option using a three-point scale indicating the level of appeal. Medicare-for-all was the least appealing and the most polarizing; an option to purchase coverage on Medicaid or Medicare as well as one that “reinforces reliance upon private or employer-based coverage” were similarly appealing (pp. 25-27).

State and Local Issues: These focused on transportation alternatives dealing with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and public transportation options and ways of raising county revenue. Raising the income tax was more popular (47 percent supporting – all figures are “support” scores below) than a work around the property tax/revenue cap (34 percent). There were two questions about racetracks – subsidies for the renewal of the Laurel racetrack (19 percent) and moving the Preakness race from Pimlico to Laurel (31 percent). There were also two questions about schools: requiring a diversity course for ninth graders (57 percent) and allowing local school boards to choose start/stop dates (also 57 percent). Late term abortion (51 percent) and long gun licensing (78 percent) were asked. There were two questions about the political process: banning contributions from developers with approvals pending from the county (80 percent) and adopting a system of public financing for local elections (41 percent) (pp. 28-34).

County – How Serious are Problems. Other than the drug and cost of living issues mentioned above, topics such as homelessness, sexual harassment and gun violence (among others) were discussed (pp. 34-36).

Gerrymandering (Congressional Redistricting): The online panel was asked about various options to deal with redistricting with a majority (59 percent) favoring the use of an “independent panel to draw the lines of congressional districts” (p. 37).

County Executive Questions: In addition to those mentioned above, there were other questions about the Citizens Advisory Committee for the General Development Plan (would adding non-developers increase trust), whether County Executive Pittman will better manage growth and development, and residents’ confidence that he will work well together with the county council to solve problems (11 percent very confident, 42 percent somewhat confident) (pp. 38-39).

Presidential Voting Choices in 2016 and 2020. There is an analysis of how ideology, party registration, strength of party identity and ideology interact with choices for candidates – both retrospectively for 2016 (Clinton/Trump) and prospectively (Trump/Democrat) (pp. 40-45).

The survey asked respondents to indicate their choice for president in 2020. They were offered the choice of voting for President Trump, voting for a Democrat, voting for another candidate or “don’t know.” The generic Democratic candidate (37 percent) edged out President Trump (33 percent), with an additional 16 percent seeking “another candidate.” Among online respondents, Joe Biden was the favorite alternative to President Trump (pp. 46-47).

Job Approval for County Executive, Governor and President. The job approval question was asked differently than in the past. Last spring, respondents were just given the choice of “approve or disapprove” while this spring they were allowed to use a scale strongly approve/disapprove, somewhat approve/disapprove. Combining the strongly and somewhat approval scores, there was a gradual rise in job approval for incumbents in all three positions: president, governor and county executive. The text discusses job approval in greater detail (pp. 48-50).

Which Party Do You Trust? The spring 2019 figures showed both parties hovering in the same range as in the recent past. Democrats dropped from 37 to 34 percent while Republicans stayed at 37 percent (pp. 51-52).

Methodology: The survey polled a random sample of 622 county residents who were at least 18 years old, primarily using a database of listed and unlisted landline numbers. Telephone interviewing was conducted April 1-4 during evening hours. In addition, members of a CSLI web panel were also asked to participate in an online version of the survey during the period March 28 to April 5. The two data sources were merged for this analysis. There was about a four percent statistical margin of error for the combined sample; the error rate was higher for subgroups such as “Democrats” or “men.” The dataset was weighted by gender, political party and education to better represent the general population. College students were trained and used as telephone interviewers as part of a general introduction to social science research methods and polling.

Contact Dan Nataf, Ph.D., center director, for additional comments or questions at 410-777-2733 and [email protected]. Check the CSLI website for results for information and press releases for this and previous surveys: www2.aacc.edu/csli.

You can read the full results below, or download the document here!

Download (PDF, 1.9MB)

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