(Left) Maryland Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wes Moore and (right) Republican nominee Dan Cox.

More than two-thirds of Marylanders said they have experienced financial hardship due to recent price increases, up from more than half of the state’s residents in March, according to a new Goucher College poll released Monday.

A majority of Marylanders said they had experienced minor (37%) or major (31%) financial hardship because of recent price increases.

That’s up from March, when 56% of Maryland said they had experienced financial hardship (26% minor hardship and 30% major) as a result of price increases at the time.

Since March, fewer residents have a positive perception of Maryland’s economy.

In the latest Goucher poll, 45% held a mostly positive view of Maryland’s current economic situation, down from 52% in March.

The percentage of Marylanders with a negative perception of the state’s economic situation remains largely the same; 42% hold a negative view now, compared to 41% in March. Meanwhile, 12% of respondents said they did not know whether the state’s current economic situation is positive or negative.

The economy continues to be front of mind for voters as they prepare to cast their ballot in Maryland’s general election this November.

Among the top three issues that voters are using to base their choice for governor, a majority of voters selected “the economy and taxes” (64%), “crime and public safety” (62%), and “public schools and education” (60%).

Other issues of importance in that choice included “infrastructure like roads, bridges and highways” (a top three issue for 35% of voters), “environmental issues” (28%), “affordable housing” (26%), and “public transportation” (8%).

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which federally protected the right to have an abortion, 44% of voters said the ruling made them more motivated to vote, while half of voters said the decision did not raise or lower their motivation level.

More than half of Maryland voters (53%) are prepared to cast their ballot for Democratic nominee for governor, Wes Moore, while about one-third (31%) say they will vote for Republican nominee Dan Cox.

Of the remaining respondents, 4% said they would vote for Libertarian candidate David Lashar; 2% for Green Party candidate Nancy Wallace; and 9% are currently undecided.

Of those who have chosen a candidate to back, 69% said they are “set on this candidate” while 28% said they could change their mind.

Asked about the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial nominees, Moore had a favorable view among 53% of respondents, unfavorable among 33%, and 13% did not know.

The favorability ratings were flipped for Cox: 30% favorable, 53% unfavorable, 14% don’t know.

Most voters described Cox’s politics as either “far or extreme right” (35%) or “conservative” (24%). Meanwhile, most voters described Moore’s politics as “progressive or liberal” (36%) or
“moderate” (22%).

An October 2021 Goucher College poll found that Maryland voters preferred to vote for a Republican gubernatorial candidate similar to Gov. Larry Hogan instead of a moderate or progressive Democrat.

But when faced with the decision between a Republican candidate similar to former President Donald Trump and a moderate or progressive Democrat, voters favored the Democrat.

During the primary election, Republican voters were faced with the choice between former Maryland commerce secretary Kelly Schulz, who was endorsed by Hogan; and Trump-endorsed Cox, who denied that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election and organized for protesters to be bussed to Washington, D.C. for the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6 that preceded the Capitol insurrection.

In other Maryland political races on the ballot this November, Democratic candidates continued to hold voters’ favor.

For Maryland Attorney General, 53% of respondents said they will vote for Democratic nominee Anthony Brown and 31% for Republican nominee Michael Peroutka.

In the race for state comptroller, 48% plan to vote for Democratic nominee Brooke Lierman, while 35% are prepared to vote for Republican nominee Barry Glassman.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen has the support of 56% of voters as he seeks to retain his seat, while 33% of voters prefer Republican nominee Chris Chaffee.

“The Democratic ticket is in a strong position to sweep the statewide contests this cycle,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College, in a statement. “The Democratic nominee Wes Moore is viewed favorably by a majority of state voters, and perceptions of his mix of progressive and moderate politics aligns with how many Maryland voters view themselves. Dan Cox’s endorsement from former President Donald J. Trump and his own political views secured his primary win but remain at odds with the Democratic and independent voters he needs to build a winning coalition.”

Also on the ballot this November: a referendum on whether to legalize recreational marijuana for those aged 21 or older.

A majority of Marylanders (59%) plan to vote in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, 34% said they will vote against the referendum, and 7% are undecided.

If recreational marijuana is legalized, 62% of voters believe the state should expunge the records of people charged or convicted of crimes related to marijuana use or possession, while 29% said the records should remain.

Residents were split over whether new measures should be put in place to mitigate the spread of coronavirus: 45% said society must “learn to live with ongoing cases without any additional measures;” 41% said measures need to be implemented to mitigate the ongoing pandemic; and 11% said the pandemic is over.

With the end of Hogan’s second and final term on the horizon, a majority of Maryland voters continue to approve of the job he is doing as governor.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of Marylanders approve of Hogan, 28% disapprove, and 8% don’t know.

Meanwhile, Marylanders are equally divided over the job Biden is doing as president: 48% approve and 48% disapprove.

Marylanders largely disapprove of Trump, who is viewed unfavorably by 61% of Maryland residents, and favorably by 32%.

Goucher College surveyed 1,008 Maryland residents, including 748 likely voters, by phone from Sept. 8-12.

For the sample size of 1,008 Maryland residents, there is a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

For the sample size of 748 likely voters, there is a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

The Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College, The Baltimore Banner, and WYPR funded and co-sponsored the poll.

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at marcus@baltimorefishbowl.com...