Poll: Overwhelming opposition to gas tax hike, increasing opposition to executions

gas pump

Photo by Brian Herzog.

A new poll shows increasing support among Marylanders for abolishing the death penalty and strong backing for tighter gun controls, but strong opposition to an increase in the gas tax despite a recognition of transportation needs.

While Gov. Martin O’Malley has an approval rating of 54%, only 25% of Maryland voters think he should run for president, with 58% saying he should not.

The poll conducted this past week by Gonzales Research & Marketing confirms why any sort of gas tax increase has faced broad opposition in the legislature, despite several attempts to raise it over the last five years.

While 94% of Marylanders recognize the need to maintain and improve Maryland’s transportation system, 73% oppose a 10-cent per gallon increase in the gasoline tax. The opposition was broad across party lines and gender. The poll did not ask about another idea O’Malley has floated: increasing the sales tax to fund transportation needs.

A portion of the corporate income tax already goes into the Transportation Trust Fund.

Death penalty

The poll also found opposition to the death penalty has increased 8 points over the last two years to 44%, and support has declined by a similar margin to 49%. Gov. Martin O’Malley has made abolishing the death penalty a key legislative priority, after failing to achieve it two years ago.

Opposition to the death penalty is strongest among Democrats (60%) and African Americans (59%). Support for executions is strongest among Republicans (77%) and whites (53%).

But three out of five respondents said the sentence of life without parole is an acceptable alternative to the death sentence.

Gun Control

There is a similar partisan divide on banning assault weapons in Maryland, as O’Malley has proposed, with 58% overall supporting such a ban. Support is strongest among Democrats (70%) and women (65%). But opinion is divided over what would do more to reduce violence in schools: 44% say stricter gun control; 36% say armed guards in schools.

The poll also found President Obama had his highest approval rating among Marylanders since his first inauguration, with 65% approving. But the partisan divide was a chasm. Among Democrats, 92% approve of the job the president is doing, and 83% of Republicans disapprove, with 57% of independents approving.

The poll was conducted by telephone Jan. 15-20 surveying 801 registered voters, giving a margin of error of 3.5%.

About The Author

Len Lazarick


Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. John W. Clarke

    Gonzales Research & Marketing should take their BS poll and shove it up their asses as it is a total mockery of peoples intelligence.

  2. abby_adams

    Given the fluctuating direction of our economy, a gas tax increase should be a no brainer. After 24 revenue increases over the past few years, each one couched with a caveat of “the sky is falling” attitude, the legislature should think long & hard abt raising yet ANOTHER tax. It would be a much different story IF the so called “dedicated” funds were truly protected & only used for the purpose stated. As for the poll, more women than men questioned; more Dems than the combined total of Rep & Indep. The only bright spot is the opposition to the gas tax hike & the political future of O’Malley.

  3. William H. Campbell

    If The governor and General Assembly will stop stealing for the Transportation Fund we might be willing to consider increasing taxes for transportation. What part of “Special Fund” don’t they understand?

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