By Megan Poinski
Gov. Martin O’Malley is more popular among Marylanders than he has ever been, according to a Gonzales Research poll released today.
According to the poll, 58% of Marylanders approve of the job O’Malley is doing – up 10% from the most recent Gonzales poll in October.
The only other time that more than half of respondents to a Gonzales poll approved of O’Malley’s job in office was a few months after he took office. In March 2007, O’Malley had a 52% approval rating. In all subsequent polls, his numbers fell, dropping to just under 40% approval in early 2008, then hovering around 48% approval for all of 2009 and 2010.
The poll was conducted by telephone between Jan. 13 and 19. A total of 802 registered voters who vote on a regular basis were interviewed. Interviews representing diverse political and racial backgrounds were conducted in regions throughout the state. The poll was not commissioned by any special interest group, and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Gonzales partner Laslo Boyd said that the high approval rating for O’Malley is striking – though not altogether unusual for an incumbent who recently won re-election. O’Malley has spent the last several months campaigning and getting a positive message out, which Boyd thinks is reflected here. Only 30% of people disapprove of O’Malley’s job performance, while 13% have no opinion.
Breaking it down further, Democrats, Republicans and independents all showed increases in their approval of O’Malley, Boyd said. Democrats posted the highest approval rating, with 77%, while 22% of Republicans and 55% of independents approved of his job in office.
The high numbers may not be sustainable, Boyd said.
“It is not going to be surprising if his approval goes down,” he said. “The governor has some tough decisions to make over these next couple months.”
The poll also asked people about three issues certain to come up in the General Assembly: whether respondents wanted to strengthen gun control laws, if they favor the death penalty, and if they would support a law allowing same-sex marriage.
Just over half of those polled – 51% — said they would favor same-sex marriage laws that would give them the same legal rights in tax exemptions, inheritance and pension coverage. There were 44% who were against that kind of law, while 5% gave no response. The support for same-sex marriage mostly came from Democrats and independents; 65% of Democrats and 52% of independents favor such a law, while 73% of Republicans opposed it.
There has been much talk about different bills being proposed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland during this General Assembly.
“The numbers are reasonably striking, in that clearly there is a majority in support of it,” Boyd said.
More than half of respondents – 56% — also said that they favored the death penalty in Maryland. A total of 36% opposed it, and eight percent gave no response. Six out of ten respondents felt that life in prison without the possibility of parole would be an acceptable alternative to the death penalty, while a third of respondents said it would not.
Poll responses about gun control were split. A total of 45% said that gun control laws in the state should be stricter. The remaining respondents were split – 24% said that the laws should be less strict, while 26% said they should be kept as they are. These responses were starkly colored by party affiliation. Sixty-three percent of Democrats wanted stricter laws, and 46% of Republicans think they should be less strict. (An additional 39% of Republicans would like the laws to be kept as they are.)
“Members of the General Assembly could infer that there is support for more gun control,” Boyd said.
Other statistics in the poll include:
- 58% of respondents think that the economy is the most important issue facing the state. More than half of Marylanders have felt this way about the economy since last January. The most recent number is three percent higher than the last poll in October.
- 54% of Maryland voters approve of President Barack Obama’s performance in office, up from 52% in October. Four out of 10 respondents disapprove of Obama’s performance, while 6% had no opinion.
- 37% of Maryland voters think that the harsh tone of political campaigns contributes to violence, while 58% do not think it is a factor. Boyd said that Maryland did not have as many sharp-toned political ads this last election season, which may have influenced the responses. Sixty-five percent of respondents, however, felt that violence in TV, movies, and music lyrics contribute to violence.