Most Maryland voters, black or white, agree that race relations are in decline, according to the newest Goucher Poll for fall 2017. But when it comes to the details of how that manifests, there’s an apparent divide along racial lines.
To start, 61 percent of voters surveyed from Sept. 14-17 agree “race relations in Maryland have gotten worse over the past few years.” That’s true nearly equally among African-American (59 percent) and white (61 percent) Marylanders.
However, asked whether minorities face workplace discrimination, 79 percent of black voters agreed, compared to 55 percent of whites.
“What we see, and it’s not really surprising at all, is that African-Americans recognize more than their white counterparts that workplace discrimination does happen,” said Mileah Kromer, director of Goucher College’s Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center.
On another question about whether cops treat everyone the same in their community, just 20 percent of black voters agreed, compared to 48 percent of whites. Overall, 38 percent percent of voters said they agree police treat everyone the same, down 11 points from an earlier Goucher Poll conducted in February 2016.
Kromer said the overall drop nevertheless indicates a “fundamental shift” in public opinion. “That’s likely an artifact of all of these high-profile cases, of young, black men being shot.”
Voters were also asked whether Confederate statues and symbols should be removed from public areas, and if they think white supremacists should be permitted to hold rallies on public grounds. About half of voters agreed the Lost Cause relics should be removed, though support was much higher among blacks (70 percent) than whites (38 percent). On the topic of allowing hate-fueled rallies in public areas, there was, again, a divide among blacks (31 percent) and whites (49 percent).
Kromer said the data show “folks recognize that there are some clear issues that are dividing Americans and Marylanders along racial lines. But when asked about these divisions, the issues persist,” she said. “A person of color would probably be able to tell you that you’re looking at the same statue, but with completely different eyes.”
The poll, which surveyed 671 Maryland voters with a 3.8 percent margin of error, also dealt with immigration, climate change and emergency preparedness.
In a state where voters five years earlier passed the DREAM Act, which granted in-state tuition to qualifying undocumented high schoolers, three in four voters in 2017 say they support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Trump has suspended, and 65 percent agree undocumented residents should be given a path to citizenship.
Most voters seem in-tune with research indicating climate change is connected to increasingly extreme weather patterns. Sixty-nine percent agreed climate change is tied to the deadly severity of storms like Hurricane Harvey and Irma that recently slammed the Caribbean and United States, though 25 percent said they don’t see a connection.
If a hurricane or other major natural disaster were to hit home, 66 percent of voters said they have “a lot” or “some” confidence the state government would be able to handle it. Twenty-eight percent have “none” or little confidence Maryland would be prepared.
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