While our previous analysis of the Baltimore Banner’s Baltimore Now poll showed a city united by complaints, the June survey of Maryland voters by Goucher College Poll in partnership with The Baltimore Banner and WYPR shows a state divided by party.
Of the 29 politician, issue, or quality of life questions the poll surveyed, registered Republicans and Democrats only agreed on seven of them (25%). The largest differences were on explicitly political questions — Democrats held far more favorable views of former president Barack Obama, the Democratic Party, and current president Joe Biden than Republicans, while the GOP respondents liked former president Donald Trump and the Republican Party far more than Democrats did.
The chart above organizes questions by partisan support, where questions farther to the left have a larger margin of Democratic support, while questions to the right have a larger margin of Republican support.
While not explicitly political questions, asking whether January 6th was an insurrection and whether Joe Biden won the 2020 election fair and square resulted in the third-largest disagreements between respondents of each party, with each side preferring its political cause by a margin of more than 50 percentage points.
In general, though, the poll found Republicans were less likely to share concerns about issues Democrats were concerned about, a potential obstacle for a progressive legislative agenda. While Democrats were significantly more concerned with a laundry list of policy issues — the environment, gun control, abortion, COVID, housing, and public transportation, in order of decreasing partisanship — these policies received little Republican support (with the exception of housing, which 40% of Maryland Republicans said was a major concern).
On the other hand, for the few issues that Republicans cared more about than Democrats — the price of gas, inflation, and crime — nearly 70% of Maryland Democrats also thought they were major problems. This rightward tilt is visible in the chart above, where the tall blue bars on the left of the graphic stand alone, while red and blue bars crowd the center-right of the chart.
There are, however, a few places where Democrats and Republicans agreed. First, more than 60% of both Democrats and Republicans approved of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. About the same amount of both groups also thought the state of K-12 schools was a major concern. And more than 75% of both parties believed that democracy and the rule of law in America were threatened.
On threat to democracy, same answer but different reasons
This question of why 75% of respondents of any political party thought democracy was threatened shows the importance of carefully examining data, and why top-line figures aren’t always enough. It’s possible, knowing only that both parties agree on the threat to democracy, that a common cause could be found. That doesn’t seem to be the case, however.
For example, 81% of Democrats believed the events of January 6, 2021 were an insurrection, whether they said democracy was threatened or not. Among Republicans, 60% believed January 6 was wrong but not an insurrection, regardless of how concerned they said they were for democracy.
On the other hand, 58% of Republicans who thought democracy in America was threatened believed that Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory was fraudulent. While a smaller percentage of Republicans actively subscribed to that story, that doesn’t mean that the other 42% believed Joe Biden won fair and square. 9.5% didn’t know whether Joe Biden won fairly, 5% had some other opinion, and 2.7% refused to answer the question. Viewed that way, 72% of concerned Republicans weren’t convinced that the 2020 election was won fairly.
Interestingly, the degree to which Republicans both believed January 6 was a legitimate protest and believed that Joe Biden won the 2020 election due to fraud increased as they said they were more concerned about democracy. Only 20% of the most concerned Republicans were sure Joe Biden won the 2020 election fairly, compared to 44% of Republicans who thought American democracy was secure. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this group gave former president Donald Trump a 97.1% favorability rating and 77% of the group wanted to see him continue to lead the Republican Party.
It also seems that as Democrats became more likely to believe American democracy was secure, they became less likely to think that the events of January 6 constituted an insurrection. However, we can’t be sure about this because of statistical uncertainty in the poll. If this turns out to be true, then in every category, except Democrats’ views on the 2020 election, the degree to which respondents from a political party agreed with their party’s “existential threat” increased as their view of democracy’s security in America worsened.
What are Marylanders’ views on abortion?
In the aftermath of the Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court decision that eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion, abortion rights are now at the front of political agendas. Maryland, as one of the 13 states with strong protections for abortion, will play a key role for those in other states looking to end a pregnancy. But what do Marylanders’ think about abortion rights?
While our poll was conducted before the Dobbs ruling was released, the leaked draft of the opinion was publicly available by the time we surveyed respondents. These responses should be viewed as a snapshot of opinion at a time where the federal guarantee for access to abortion was extremely threatened, but not yet gone.
The plurality of Maryland residents believed that abortion should be legal under certain circumstances. This high-level opinion, however, obscures what different groups of Marylanders thought.
Opinions differed by ideology and gender, but in possibly surprising ways. Progressive women showed the most overwhelming support for abortion being legal under all circumstances, with 79% in favor and a proportion statistically indistinguishable from zero saying abortion should always be illegal. However, the group with the second-largest support for abortion’s universal legality wasn’t moderate women, but progressive men (71% in favor).
Moderate women (and moderate men) were completely split between those who think abortion should be legal always — 42% for women and 43% for men — and those who think abortion should only be legal under certain circumstances — 44% for women and 47% for men. Gallup polling has previously shown that men and women have only limited differences in their abortion views, but the Goucher College Poll suggests the difference between them is due to ideology.
While the overwhelming majority of Marylanders believe abortion should at least be legal sometimes, about one-fifth of conservatives of all genders believed that abortion should always be illegal (21% of conservative men and 23% of conservative women).