A plurality of voters remain undecided about who they will vote for in the Democratic primary for Baltimore City mayor, but former Mayor Sheila Dixon has a small lead among voters who have decided or are leaning toward a candidate, according to a new poll from WYPR, The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore.
The poll of 400 likely Baltimore Democratic primary voters found 16 percent favored Dixon. Her next closest competitors, City Council President Brandon Scott and former prosecutor and U.S. Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah, each had 10 percent support.
In the single digits, former Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith had 9 percent support, former U.S. Treasury Department official Mary Miller had 7 percent, current Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young had 6 percent, State Sen. Mary Washington had 5 percent, and activist Carlmichael “Stokey” Cannady had 1 percent.
That leaves undecided voters making up 31 percent of poll respondents, and 4 percent of respondents not saying who they would vote for.
The poll, which was conducted between Feb. 20-29 by OpinionWorks, had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.9 percentage points.
A Fox 45 poll last week also had Dixon in the lead with 17 percent support, followed by Smith, Vignarajah and Washington each with 15 percent. Scott and Young had 11 percent and 9 percent, respectively. That poll, which surveyed 300 likely Democratic voters, had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 6 percentage points.
Before that, a poll released by Scott’s campaign and published by the Baltimore Brew also had Dixon in the lead. That survey, conducted by Global Strategy Group, had Dixon at 20 percent and Scott at 16 percent, followed by Smith (13 percent), Young (11 percent), Vignarajah (11 percent), Washington (9 percent) and Miller (2 percent). The margin of error of that poll was plus-or-minus 4.9 percentage points.
The new poll from WYPR, The Sun, and the University of Baltimore also asked voters the most important thing they are looking for in the next mayor or the most important thing they want the mayor to do.
“Address crime” topped voter priorities at 50 percent.
Baltimore City ended 2019 with 348 homicides, and the city’s homicide rate has been more than 300 killings per year for five years in a row.
“Honesty/integrity” and “schools/youth” were also high priorities with 21 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
Some interviews for the poll were conducted in the days leading up to the sentencing of former Mayor Catherine Pugh for her fraud scheme involving her “Healthy Holly” children’s book series. Pugh was sentenced to three years in federal prison, followed by three years of probation.
City officials and candidates in the Baltimore primary reacted last week to the former mayor’s sentencing by calling for greater accountability and transparency in City Hall to restore public trust in city government.
School funding has also been a key priority for city and state officials as the Maryland General Assembly takes on The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, an education bill aimed at increasing funding for Maryland schools with measures based on recommendations from the Kirwan Commission.
Yet Gov. Larry Hogan, Young and state legislators have gone back and forth about how to juggle school improvements with efforts to reduce violent crime in Baltimore.