More than half of Marylanders approve of the job Gov. Wes Moore is doing, according to the results of a new Goucher College Poll released Tuesday.
Residents were asked about a broad set of policy goals in addition to how they felt their elected representatives were doing their jobs. Topics included crime reduction, public schools, the economy, childhood poverty, public transportation, racial equity, and renewable energy.
Moore enjoys an approval rating of 53% among Marylanders five months into his first term. Only 26% of Marylanders disapprove of the job he is doing as governor, and 20% say they don’t know.
When asked if Moore is doing the job of governor “about as well” as they expected, about 57% of respondents said that he is. Another 17% said they think he is doing better than they expected, and 14% believe he is doing worse.
When residents were asked to label Moore’s politics, only 4% said he is “very conservative” or “conservative.” Meanwhile, 25% labeled him a “moderate,” 38% called him “progressive,” and 20% of respondents labeled Moore as “very progressive.”
“Wes Moore is on solid footing with the public after his first legislative session as governor of Maryland,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College, in a statement. “The numbers reflect a ‘what you voted for is what you got’ attitude: Like they did before the election, the public still views Moore as holding a mix of progressive and moderate political positions, and they broadly believe that he is doing the job as governor ‘about as well’ as they expected.”
Maryland residents had strong opinions about policy goals for their state. More than three-quarters of respondents said it is “extremely” or “very” important that Moore makes progress toward reducing crime (83%), improving public schools (83%), improving the economy and jobs (79%), and eliminating childhood poverty (77%).
Those topics reflected bipartisanship. On the topic of reducing crime, 81% of Democrats, 89% of Republicans, and 82% of Independents considered it extremely important. Regarding improvement in public schools, 88% of Democrats, 74% of Republicans, and 81% of Independents considered it extremely important. When it comes to the economy and jobs, 79% of Democrats, 81% of Republicans, and 79% of Independents labeled the topic extremely important.
Taking steps to eliminate childhood poverty also ranked high on Marylanders’ list of priorities, though a wider partisan divide began to show. While 87% of Democrats considered it extremely important, as did 76% of Independents, 61% of Republicans felt that way.
Prioritizing racial equity issues saw a sharper break between political parties. While overall 60% of those polled considered addressing these issues “extremely” or “very” important, 81% of Democrats considered it high priority, as opposed to 29% of Republicans. Meanwhile, 48% of Independents considered the matter extremely or very important.
Of those surveyed, 48% of respondents felt it is “extremely” or “very” important that the Moore administration improve public transportation. This question also saw a partisan divide, with 63% of Democrats prioritizing public transportation this way as opposed to 27% of Republicans. Among Independents, 42% ranked this issue extremely or very important.
Expanding renewable energy like offshore wind was a high priority for only 41% of those polled. It was deemed “extremely” or “very” important by 59% of Democrats, while only 15% of Republicans felt that way, and 33% of Independents placed it in that category.
The Goucher College Poll also posed questions about the legalization of recreational cannabis. Last November, Maryland voters approved a ballot referendum to legalize cannabis for people over the age of 21. The referendum passed overwhelmingly, with 67.2% of voters casting their ballots in favor.
Respondents were asked about their own current and expected cannabis use, with 76% saying they “never” use cannabis in a “typical month” for either recreational or medicinal purposes. Another 23% answered that they do use cannabis at least once a month, either recreationally or medicinally.
Legalization of recreational marijuana is not expected to change usage habits that much, according to this poll. Only 16% of respondents say they would be “more likely” to use cannabis recreationally since it is now legal, and 76% say the new law makes no difference to them.
When asked about their general impressions about the direction of the economy, transportation, and the Maryland General Assembly, poll results suggest attitudes have not changed much since September 2022, with 47% of respondents in the new poll saying they feel Maryland is going in the “right direction,” and 42% feel it is not.
Feelings on the economy are nearly evenly divided, with 47% holding a “mostly positive” view of Maryland’s economic direction and 46% holding a “mostly negative” view.
Just over half of respondents (51%) would like to see Maryland’s state government focus more on improving roads and highways, while 29% would rather see the focus on improving public transportation.
When it comes to the General Assembly, 48% of those polled approve of the job their legislature is doing, 35% disapprove, and 16% say they don’t know.
President Joe Biden’s approval rating in Maryland has seen a slight dip in the last year. In September 2022, 48% approved of the job he was doing and 48% disapproved. In the new Goucher poll, 46% of Marylanders approve of the job he is doing, 49% disapprove, and 4% say they don’t know.
The poll was conducted among 800 Maryland residents from April 18 to 23, 2023. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
The poll was funded by the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College and The Baltimore Banner.