More than half of Marylanders say they personally know someone who has been addicted to opioids, according to a Goucher College poll released Wednesday that also found strong support for imposing term limits on state lawmakers and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The finding that 52 percent have direct ties to opioid abuse illustrates the growing scope of a crisis that was declared a state of emergency last year by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and was a major focus of the 2017 legislative session. A Washington Post- University of Maryland poll in late 2015 found that nearly 30 percent of Marylanders had a close friend or relative who was addicted.
The Goucher Poll found that all segments of the population are affected by opioid use and that a majority of Marylanders think that the issue is a major problem and that users need drug treatment to overcome their addictions.
“It doesn’t have to do with race, gender or even geography,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College. “People get that this is a serious public health concern. And it cuts across party lines. Democrats and Republicans say it’s a major problem, they’ve all been affected by it, which says to me that there could be a bipartisan solution or a bipartisan way to address it.”
Fifty-eight percent of white respondents say they know someone who has been addicted, while 45 percent of black respondents are connected to someone with an opioid addiction.
The percentages of men and women who know an addict are nearly the same, at 53 percent and 51 percent, respectively. But the poll shows that the crisis has affected more Republicans than Democrats. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans say they know someone who is addicted, while 50 percent of independents and 47 percent of Democrats say they are connected to someone addicted to opioids.
The poll, taken Feb. 12 to Feb. 17, asked 800 Marylanders about their positions on several issues being considered by the General Assembly, including funding for education and public transportation, and a measure that would ban tackle football for children younger than 14.
Goucher released a different portion of the poll Tuesday that focused on Hogan’s performance. It found that Hogan is maintaining high approval ratings as he seeks reelection, vying to become Maryland’s first Republican governor to win a second term in 60 years.
Sixty-one percent of respondents say they like the job Hogan is doing, which is nearly the same as Goucher’s findings in September. But the poll also found that Marylanders are divided over whether they would vote for Hogan for reelection. Forty-seven percent say they are leaning toward or would definitely vote for him, while 43 percent say they are leaning toward or would definitely vote for another candidate.
More than half the respondents say the state is spending too little on public transportation. Even more, 71 percent, say more needs to be spent on education.
Both issues show a partisan divide. Fifty-one percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Democrats say the state spends too little on education. And 30 percent of Republicans say the state is not spending enough on public transit, compared with 63 percent of Democrats.
Marylanders are nearly split over a proposal being considered in the General Assembly that would ban tackle football for children under 14. Forty-five percent say they support a ban, while 49 percent say they are against prohibiting kids from playing tackle football. The legislation was introduced this year by Del. Terri L. Hill (D-Howard), a physician who has raised concerns about concussions in young children. It would apply only to publicly operated fields.
The poll finds that most Marylanders approve of the performance of the General Assembly, but even more would support term limits for state lawmakers. Last month, Hogan proposed legislation that would limit state lawmakers to two terms in office. The bill is expected to die in committee.
“It’s no different from what we see nationwide,” Kromer said, noting that most Americans support imposing term limits on Congress. “It’s one of those ideas that are difficult to legislate.”
Another popular idea, especially among Democrats, that is being considered by the legislature — but is not expected to pass — is an effort to raise Maryland’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Three out of four respondents in the poll say they support the pay increase. The percentage jumps to 84 percent among Democrats.
“It’s one of those things where although the public support is there, it takes a lot to get it over the finish line,” Kromer said.
The Goucher Poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.