Over the last year, The Baltimore Banner and Goucher College have been conducting polls of Marylanders, asking both timely and evergreen questions. As we always emphasize, each poll is just a snapshot of Maryland’s political opinions, but by repeating questions over time, we begin forming a moving image of how opinions in the state are changing.

Our latest April survey marks the third such poll since June of last year and with it, we’re going to start comparing opinions over time. Question framing and context are essential, and while the exact questions differ, this comparison still gives us a sense that while the state of the economy, and an increasing focus on public transit and Maryland schools matter to everyone, opinions on them differ.

The three statewide Goucher College-Baltimore Banner surveys were conducted in June 2022, September 2022 and April 2023.

Overall, the priorities of conservatives, moderates and progressives have changed in remarkably similar ways, despite their views on the state of economy largely differing. The top two charts in the grid of four above tell us about economic opinions in Maryland. The top left chart shows that the state’s economy matters more and more to all people of all political alignments, though a larger share of conservatives still prioritize the economy than progressives and moderates.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

In our latest poll, 86% of conservatives said that improving the economy was important to them, compared to 55% of conservatives in June 2022 who said that the state of the economy was a major concern to them. Over that same time period, those figures increased to 73% from 32% for progressives. As mentioned, these are not directly comparable questions. However, they are similar enough that we can say with some certainty that a larger portion of Maryland is prioritizing the economy now than in June of last year.

Where opinions diverge is on the current state of the economy ― the top right chart. In fact, ideology seems to determine economic belief here.

Three-quarters of conservatives polled have a mostly negative view of the current economic situation in the state, 70% of progressives polled have a mostly positive view, and moderates are right in between, with 51% polled holding a positive view. Interestingly, of these groups, only progressives have a more positive view of the current economic situation, with conservatives’ opinions having dropped more than moderates’. This question is one of the few directly comparable questions in our survey.

However, beyond their reading of current economic affairs in the state, people of differing political views have largely trended in the same directions.

Compared to last year, a larger percentage of all groups polled think that investment in public transportation is important. Again, how those opinions changed depends on ideology. Seventy percent of progressives surveyed think improving transit is important, up from 46% last summer. This figure increased from 18% of conservatives polled in June of 2022 to 36% this year. It’s hard to say with real certainty, because of the differing survey designs, but it may be the case that opinion on public transit is diverging, with progressives valuing it at increasingly higher rates than conservatives.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

We see a less exaggerated version of the same trend in opinions on schools. At least three-quarters of every group polled thinks improving schools is an important task, and larger portions of every group believe that now when compared with last year. Eighty-eight percent of progressives, though, currently believe this compared with 77% of conservatives.

Younger and Black Marylanders smoke more marijuana

As Maryland turns over a new leaf with the legalization of marijuana, we asked respondents about their current and future usage. Usage varies tremendously among Marylanders of different ages and races. The largest group of users were young, Black respondents, 78% of whom use at least once a month. Young, white respondents had the second highest monthly usage with 37% saying they partake once a month.

Yet, even this comparison occludes interesting differences in young users’ behavior. The large top-level difference is driven by more common casual usage among Black young adults.

Young white and Black Marylanders are just as likely to use cannabis every day or once a month, with about 10% of both groups in each category. White respondents (10%) are even more likely to use a couple times a week than young Black respondents (2%). However, young Black Marylanders are much more likely to consume once or twice a week than young white respondents, making overall marijuana usage among Black young adults higher.

In general, older respondents use marijuana less frequently. More than 80% of white respondents for all age groups older than 45 never use. Similarly, 82% of Black respondents age 45 to 54; 81% of age 55 to 64; and 74% older than age 65 never use.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Across all age groups, Black respondents use more frequently than white respondents. This gap is smallest among middle-aged Marylanders, where usage rates are almost identical, driven largely by fewer Black respondents using cannabis. Depending on who’s doing the analysis, racial differences in marijuana usage are either meaningful or nearly nonexistent. In Maryland, however, our survey seems to show greater usage in Black communities.

Baseball!

Lastly, we look at which parts of Maryland prefer which baseball teams. Unfortunately, because most of our survey respondents live near the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore metropolitan areas, we don’t have reliable estimates of baseball team preference on the Eastern Shore or in Appalachian Maryland.

A plurality of just two counties in Maryland preferred the Washington Nationals to the Baltimore Orioles — Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Both border Washington, D.C. Every other county in the state from which we have enough data to say has a larger percentage of Orioles fans than Nationals fans.

Yet, looking a little deeper, even the margin of support for the Nationals in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties reveals love of the Orioles. Just 32% of residents in those counties prefer the Nationals. Compare this to their neighboring northern counties, Howard and Anne Arundel, where 49% of Howard residents and 55% of Anne Arundel residents are Orioles fans.

Once we get close to the Orioles’ home plate of Baltimore City, unsurprisingly, residents are primarily Orioles fans. But, Baltimore City doesn’t have the largest percentage of Orioles’ fans. Just north, Baltimore County and Harford County are slightly more loyal to the team, with two-thirds of Baltimore County’s residents and nearly three-quarters of Harford’s residents supporting the Orioles.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Interestingly, of all counties in Maryland with enough data, just one wasn’t a fan of any baseball team in particular: St. Mary’s County.

nick.thieme@thebaltimorebanner.com

Nick Thieme designs statistical experiments and analyzes data to discover and improve stories about inequality, human rights, health care, and climate change. He has worked as a data reporter and statistician for a variety of public and private organizations, with writing appearing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Slate Magazine, and elsewhere. 

More From The Banner