By Len Lazarick
As delegates debate a bill abolishing the death penalty already passed in the Senate, a new Goucher College poll finds a slight majority of Marylanders (51%) oppose ending executions -- even though many overestimate how often it is used and a majority says it does not deter murder and would prefer life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
On the other hot issue still awaiting action by the House Judiciary Committee, an overwhelming majority of Marylanders -- more than four out of five -- support the major provisions of Gov. Martin O'Malley's gun control proposal, despite the fierce opposition of a gun-owning minority that has flooded Annapolis hearing rooms.
Surprisingly, even in the one-third of households that have a gun owner, there was majority support for the most controversial provisions of the O'Malley package -- requiring a license and fingerprinting to get a handgun.
The sharpest divide is between gun and non-gun owners on the proposal to ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, with a majority of gun owners opposing the bans.
Mixed reviews for O'Malley, legislature
The citizens rating the governor and legislators making these decisions gave them very mixed reviews. Almost as many people had an unfavorable view of O'Malley (45%) as had a favorable view (46%), though his job performance rated slightly higher, with 47% approving and 43% disapproving.
For the General Assembly, 38% approved of the job it is doing, while 38% disapproved and a quarter of citizens said they didn't know.
Sixty-four percent of residents believe they can trust the state government to do what is in the public's interest "some" or "all" of the time.
How the poll was done and full poll results
The Goucher survey by its Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center was conducted last week, March 3-7, contacting 791 respondents by phone, 35% of them by cell phone. The poll has a margin of error of 3.48% and unlike other polls, it contacts all citizens, not just registered or likely voters.