Poll: Unpopular gas tax hike drives down O’Malley approval; Brown leads in gov race; Jon Cardin ahead for AG

By Len Lazarick


Gov. Martin OMalleyOverwhelming voter disapproval of a gas tax hike earlier this year has helped drive Gov. Martin O’Malley’s job approval rating below 50% for the first time in three years, a new poll found.

The Gonzales Research poll also found marginal support, 49% to 44%, for the repeal of the death penalty O’Malley pushed, but wider support for the gun control measures the governor also backed, 58% to 40%.

The results on guns and the death penalty exhibited a sharp partisan divide, with Democrats strongly approving of O’Malley and his legislative initiatives, while Republicans were strongly opposed.

Among Democratic voters, O’Malley’s political partner, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has a wide lead in the race to succeed O’Malley as governor over Attorney General Doug Gansler and Del. Heather Mizeur, but a third of Democrats are still undecided. The results were 41% for Brown, 21% for Gansler and 5% for Mizeur. This is similar to the results of an internal Brown poll released earlier this month.

Attorney General candidates talked to the Building Trades Unions in September. From left, Del. Jon Cardin, Sen. Brian Frosh, Dels. Aisha Braveboy and Bill Frick.

Attorney General candidates talked to the Building Trades Unions in September. From left, Del. Jon Cardin, Sen. Brian Frosh, Dels. Aisha Braveboy and Bill Frick.

In the Democratic race for attorney general, Del. Jon Cardin had a clear lead with 25% support, versus 13% for Sen. Brian Frosh, 8% for Del. Aisha Braveboy, and 5% for Del. Bill Frick, but almost half are undecided.

“Cardin seems to be benefitting from his popular uncle, Senator Ben Cardin,” said pollster Patrick Gonzales. Sen. Cardin is not on the ballot next year.

The poll was conducted from Oct. 1 to Oct. 14 by telephoning 819 likely voters. The margin of error is 3.5%. For the Democratic primary survey, the pollsters contacted an oversampling of 403 Democrats who said they were likely to vote in the June 2014 primary. There is a margin of error of 5% in the primary results.

Gonzales has been polling in Maryland for 30 years, and his firm Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies releases public opinion surveys to media outlets two or three times a year.

O'Malley job approvalO’Malley used political capital

“It appears Governor O’Malley spent some political capital during this past legislative session, as his job rating has dropped since January,” Gonzales commented.

O’Malley went from 54% in January to 48% approval while 48% disapprove. These were not the lowest job approval ratings of his two terms as governor, which occurred in January and March of 2008, following a 2007 special session that raised income, sales and corporate taxes.

Two-thirds of Democrats approve of O’Malley’s performance, while four out of five Republicans (83%) disapprove. Independents are split, with 46% approving, and 51% disapproving.

Three out of four Democrats (76%) strongly support the new gun control licensing and training measures that went into effect this month, while a similar proportion of Republicans (71%) are opposed. Overall, 47% of voters surveyed strongly approve the measure, while 30% strongly disapprove.

Almost three out of five voters “strongly” disapprove of the gas tax increase which will go up over the next three years. This is one of the few issues that unites a majority of Democrats (68%), Republicans (90%) and independents (76%), as well as a majority of blacks (68%) and whites (79%).

There is also a partisan divide on the repeal of the death penalty which went into effect Oct. 1, the poll found.

Partisan divide on Obamacare

The strongest partisan and racial divide showed up on Obamacare, which Republicans hate (82%) and Democrats love (82%), with strongest support among African American voters (87%).

African American Democrats also helped push Brown to his lead, with 56% already supporting his candidacy to become the state’s first black governor and a quarter undecided. Brown and Gansler split the white vote 29% to 28%, but Brown leads in all the regions of the state.

On only two issues do Maryland voters show similar attitudes regardless of political affiliation. More than four out of five are concerned about the government shutdown’s effect on the U.S. economy. A majority also opposes “taking military action against Iran in order to prevent them from producing a nuclear weapon.”

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. Bigrob

    I am so sick of the democrats always screwing everything up they touch… All they want to do is give all the illegals more of a free ride… And give the lazy people on welfare more welfare… And to pay for that they always make crazy tax’s.. Rain tax…. Gas tax hikes….. smokers tax hikes…. Liqueur tax hikes….. Soon there will be a fresh air tax… And then there will be a living too close to a bus stop tax… And a race tax.. And even a tax of those who are not democrat… This whole thing is stupid and they need to put someone in office that knows what they are doing and will not give out more free rides and make the working class pay for all this crap.. There are more and more working class people and family’s moving out of Maryland each and every day… O’Smelly has already chased out almost every single wealthy person and family out of Maryland and the rest have had it and want to leave.. I have a few friends who are loaded and they talk about leaving all the time… Some already have and the last 3 friends I have that have a lot of money are waiting to see what happens with the new Governor and if its as bad or worse then O’Smelly they said they are gone.. So that means the huge amounts of money they pay in tax’s and stuff will go right onto the working middle class AGAIN! and there will be a lot of huge tax hikes… The issues with all of this is the fact that Maryland is not broke! They have billions and billions of money left and its close to the end of the year… But they make it out that Maryland is broke and they need more money. The one and only reason they say they need more money is because they want a few more raises because they dont take enough of the working class’s paychecks all ready.. And then this Obama care.. Yea… Well me and my lady have to pay out the butt for medical ins now and its only going to get worse.. I hate with this country has become.. Obama and his idiot gang and the rest of those idiots like O’Smelly and his gang. I just have a feeling this is going to get worse and its going to get so bad that Maryland is going to loose too many working class people and they will not have enough to pay anything.. And that means the first thing to go is Welfare and Medicare and wick and all those free riders are going to be hit. Maryland already has more on welfare then it has people working. That’s another reason they are scared and want to tax hike everyone. But they are idiots and are making more and more run away. I am one of them because if it gets much worse I am gone along with every other self respecting hard working person in this crappy POS of a state. Its not a state its hell. Sure feels like it!


    OweMalley can rot in hell

  3. FickersFor15

    A 20 cents/gallon gas tax increase is the largest state gas tax increase in U.S. History. It clobbers the poor and middle class. All the District 15 legislators voted for it with a, “let them eat cake,” attitude.

  4. JerseyShur

    NO more Democrats at the top we CANNOT afford Socialism here in MD

  5. joe

    It is too late for Maryland’s voters to wake up and have a serious conversation about a two term “tax and spend” lame duck Democratic governor’s approval rating dropping.
    Unfortunately, this same conversation will occur again in 2018, as another To Be Determined “tax and spend” Democratic governor runs for reelection!

  6. abby_adams

    So the race is decided on “race” as opposed to any consideration abt accomplishments? Where have we heard that before? As for O’Malley? Too bad those who voted to return him to the Gov Mansion didn’t consider his accomplishments during his first term. Actions always speak louder than words, but only if one is listening.

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