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“Nationals October 2019

Spring survey of local issues released by Anne Arundel Community College

| March 25, 2021, 10:35 AM

A survey of 474 Anne Arundel County residents conducted March 6-12 by Anne Arundel Community College found compared to last fall (October), twice as many people agreed that the “COVID-19 situation is getting better (70 percent this spring, 35 percent last fall). Only five percent felt that the situation was getting worse, compared to 20 percent last fall. 

About one-fifth (19 percent) disagreed with the statement, “FDA approved vaccines are sufficiently safe and effective for me to obtain as soon as possible” – this level of “vaccine hesitancy” seems roughly in keeping with that reported March 9 by a Monmouth University national poll which found 25 percent still unwilling to be vaccinated. That poll reported sharp differences along party lines, with Republicans more likely to avoid the vaccine (36 percent) than Democrats (6 percent).1 The AACC poll found some partisan polarization with Democrats a bit less likely (11 percent) than Republicans (19 percent) to shun the vaccine. 

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Overall, the public’s concern about the coronavirus remains high. Last fall 50 percent placed it among the top two “most important problems faced by residents of Anne Arundel County”; the percentage was nearly unchanged (53 percent) this spring. 

The poll found respondents to be more impatient about the pace of reopening – with far more saying that the pace of reopening was “too slow” (38 percent for the county; 28 percent for the state) than was true last fall (28 and 16 percent). 

The incidence of COVID-19 in the public seems to have risen sharply since last fall when only two percent reported having contracted the illness; it was eight percent this spring – perhaps due to the sharp spike in infection from November through January. There was also a spike from 28 to 47 percent saying, “a family member or close friend has come down with it.” There was a ten-point rise (from 20 to 30 percent) in the percentage saying, “someone you know has died from the effects of the virus.” 

The full survey is linked below.

Summary of Main Findings 

Most Important Problem Facing County Residents: Additional details are available in the text (pp. 7-9). 

Right Direction/Wrong Direction: The percentage of those saying that the county was moving in the right direction stabilized at 42 percent this spring – up a single point from last fall. Regarding the state, there had been a decrease from 70 to 50 percent from spring 2020 to fall 2020. This spring the percentage declined further to 45 percent. The percentage applicable to the country stayed in the same general range for the last few surveys – but rose a bit to 35 percent approve. A detailed analysis shows the impact of differences regarding perceptions and policies dealing with coronavirus as well as partisanship – and how these affect the “direction” attitude (pp. 10-16). 

Rating Economic Conditions – County, State and Country: For the county, the percentage saying “excellent” or “good” dropped from 57 to 54 percent. At the state level, this spring there was another drop from 55 to 50 percent. The federal level continued a downward swing, down from 44 in spring 2020 to 37 percent in fall 2020 – and now at 23 percent. There is an analysis of the impact of partisanship upon this attitude (pp. 17-22). 

Expectations for the National Economy: The percentage of those saying that the economy will get better in the future decreased from 46 percent last fall to 40 percent this spring. Another 20 percent expected the economy to stay the same (pp. 23-28) 

Economic Conditions Applying to Respondents: While there had been a steady reduction in concern about high taxes by spring 2020 when it reached an all-time low (46 percent), there has been a climb recently – to 51 percent in fall 2020 and 57 percent in spring 2021. The concern about inflation was expressed in a rising fear that wages would not keep up with expenses. The percentage expressing a fear of unemployment was steady at 12 percent, just a single point higher than last fall. An analysis shows the disproportionate adverse economic impact upon lower income people; another analysis shows the impact of party registration (pp. 29-31). 

Coronavirus Section: This section starts by highlighting the prominent position that concern for the coronavirus has among the “most important problems facing the residents of Anne Arundel County” (p. 32). It is then compared to other problems where this concern drops once a listing of other issues is presented (pp. 33-35). The quality of public education, management of run-off into the Chesapeake Bay and easy access to opioids all ranked higher. Some partisan differences are presented there as well. 

The discussion then moves to that mentioned earlier – the perception that the coronavirus situation is improving (p. 35). The pace of reopening is examined in detail, with a comparison between Democrats – who are more likely to favor a slower reopening – and Republicans. 

The section then moves to a review of proposals meant to deal with COVID-19 – such as making vaccinations mandatory for employees in essential jobs (57 percent agreed), or 4 

“continuing to have businesses such as restaurants, gyms or theaters be open at least at 50 percent capacity” (56 percent agreed). Partisan differences are reviewed and highlight the sharply contrasting approaches favored by Democrats and Republicans (pp. 35-39). 

The reopening of schools is discussed by presenting four options ranging from more in-person instruction (30 percent agreed) to preferring to have “online only” instruction for the moment (19 percent) (pp. 40-41). 

Personal experience with COVID is reviewed and the results show increases from last fall in the percentage who have contracted the illness (from 2 to 8 percent), or “someone you know has died from effects of the virus” which rose from 20 to 30 percent. Some analysis of the experience with COVID by age is presented (pp. 41-42). 

The COVID impact on lifestyles, work practices, health and emotional consequences as well as the vaccination situation are reviewed. Testing appears to have gotten easier, but there are numerous problems with the vaccination situation – with individuals trying a variety of different approaches/websites, with varying but never great success. Individuals were more likely than six months ago to say that they were working more online, had seen a reduction of hours or had to manage day care or home schooling. Unhappiness or emotional distress due to social isolation nearly doubled over a one-year period from 34 percent to 58 percent. Some of these lifestyle/work related issues are analyzed by some social variables such as race, gender and income (pp.43-45). 

The vaccination issue is examined in terms of willingness to get vaccinated – 19 percent express hesitancy, with a left/right element shaping the willingness to embrace a COVID vaccine. The same political dimension affected the percentage of people saying that they had been vaccinated: Biden voters – 50 percent; Trump voters – 34 percent. 

Respondents were in general agreement that the proliferation of websites that must be searched for vaccination appointments was less than ideal – and that a central website would be a great improvement (pp. 46-50). 

Governor Larry Hogan (56 percent) and President Joe Biden (50 percent) had some credibility regarding “trust about the coronavirus.” The survey also asked about other ways of gaining information such as print or online new sites – with some analysis of political and social variables regarding trust in such sites (pp. 50-53). 

The Future of Work: The survey asked about respondents’ expectations regarding the future of work – specifically their preferences and concerns about more online work practices. For example, 37 percent said that they preferred to work mostly or entirely online, while 34 percent did not. A nearly equal number felt that their future work would be increasingly online – or not (39 vs. 38 percent) (pp. 54-55). 

County and the General Development Plan – Goals for the Future: The survey asked about priorities to be highlighted in the review of the General Development Plan currently undergoing revision by the county. Top priorities were less road congestion (58 percent saying “very 5 

important”), improved public schools (54 percent), “Better protection of environmentally sensitive areas and open spaces” (49 percent) and “Improved public safety in my area” (43 percent). An analysis of differing priorities is offered by county council district (pp. 56-57). 

County’s Most Serious Issues: This was a listing of issues asking respondents to indicate how serious each issue was – for example, 40 percent said the “high cost of housing” was a “very serious” issue. An analysis of how political and demographic variables affect perceptions is presented (pp. 58-60). 

National and International Issues and Policies: How Serious/Approve: The same analysis is presented for a range of national and international issues – from illegal immigration and climate change to America’s military strength and threats from China and Russia. A separate analysis of some issues such as approval of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill or a possible infrastructure bill is also presented (pp. 61-66). 

Elections, Voting, “Stolen elections,” “Inciting the mob on January 6”: There is a comparison of voters’ expressed votes in 2020 vs. 2016 in order to try and explain Biden’s success last November in Anne Arundel County. An analysis is made of how voters changed their votes between 2016 and 2020 – emphasizing that Biden benefited from Republican defections from Trump as well as a consolidation to Biden and away from third party candidates. A separate section deals with the perceived accuracy of ballot counting – the public’s confidence in vote counts is discussed both for Maryland and the country as a whole. Dramatic differences by party registration are identified: 91 percent of Democrats are very confident that the vote was accurately counted in Maryland, but only 33 percent of Republicans agree. There is a review of the idea that the 2020 election was “stolen” from Trump – 26 percent agreed with this view; 43 percent of Republicans agreed compared to only four percent of Democrats. Asked if Trump incited the mob on January 6, 57 percent agreed – 91 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of Republicans (pp. 67-71). 

Job Approval for the President, Governor and County Executive: The survey has asked about job approval for major executive positions for many years. Joe Biden received a boost in job approval compared to Donald Trump: the score increased from 43 percent last fall to 52 percent this spring. 

For Governor Larry Hogan, while remaining high, his job approval declined from 79 to 70 percent this spring, hurt mostly by lower scores among Republicans and unaffiliated voters. 

County Executive Steuart Pittman dropped a couple of points to 49 mostly due to a ten-point drop among Republicans (pp. 72-76) 

Job Approval for County Council, Maryland General Assembly and Congress: The survey extended the job approval question to these three legislative bodies. The Anne Arundel County Council (48 percent approve) and Maryland General Assembly (49 percent approve) had similar scores. The Congress had a much lower score: 28 percent approve. Democrats were more likely in each case to approve of the legislative unit (p. 77). 6 

Trust in Political Parties: Democrats experienced a small two-point decline in trust, but the Republicans fell 11 points, from 38 to 27 percent. This was mostly explained by a sharp drop in trust in the Republican Party among Republicans themselves – from 67 to 51 percent. The shift was largely to “trust neither” among Republicans, rising from 20 to 36 percent (pp. 78-79). 

Open-ended Comments: Note that some questions had an opportunity for open-ended responses. Check the appendices at the end of the press release for verbatim citations (starts on page 97). The questionnaire with frequency distributions starts on page 80. 

If document is not displaying below, here is a link to the report (PDF | 189 pages | 2.4MB)

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