Poll: To surprise of no one, Baltimoreans have a grim outlook about how the city is faring

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Amid the “Healthy Holly” scandal that eventually led to Catherine Pugh resigning as mayor, city residents didn’t exactly paint a rosy picture of city affairs in a new poll released by Gonzales Research & Media Services. And really, who can blame them?

Nearly two-thirds of respondents–63 percent–said the city is on the wrong track, compared with 27 percent who think things are going in the right direction.

This view was widely held by Baltimoreans regardless of their race, gender or age–no fewer than 60 percent of people in any demographic said Baltimore was on the “wrong track.” People younger than 55 were the most positive, relatively speaking.

The poll was conducted between April 29 and May 1, meaning these newly published figures were tabulated before Pugh actually resigned on May 2. At the time the poll was taken, the same number of residents, 63 percent, thought Pugh should step down following the revelations of her nearly $800,000 in sales for “Healthy Holly” books.

Most of those payments came from the University of Maryland Medical System, on whose board Pugh sat–part of a larger self-dealing scheme by many board members to enrich themselves with lucrative contracts from the hospital operator. It was later reported Pugh sold books to health insurer Kaiser Permanente–which provides coverage to municipal employees and, thus, had contracts approved by Pugh on the Board of Estimates–and Associated Black Charities, among others.

Zooming out to reflect on whether things in Baltimore were better or worse than they were 10 years ago, only 15 percent said they think life in the city is improving. Twenty-eight percent said things are pretty much the same.

City residents had an even worse view of Baltimore City Public Schools and crime-reduction efforts.

Only 20 percent said they are satisfied with public education in the city, compared with 73 percent who are dissatisfied. An even smaller number, 12 percent, are happy with the city’s efforts in reducing crime.

So who will voters pick to turn the ship around? A plurality of respondents said they remain undecided when presented with a field of former Mayor Sheila Dixon, current Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and former prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah. Mosby has not announced a run, and there are other contenders who have, or have at least teased the possibility.

Dixon registered the most support among the candidates, at 23 percent. The other three contenders in this hypothetical match-up were all pretty close together, with Young (who has said he won’t run to keep the job) polling at 19 percent, Mosby at 18 percent and Vignarajah at 16 percent.

Gonzales Research & Media Services spoke with 329 registered voters in the city who said they are likely to vote in the Democratic primary for mayor in April 2020. The results have a margin of error of 5.5 percent.

Brandon Weigel

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