Marylanders Want Legislature to Go Further on Minimum Wage; Baltimore Voters Back Proposed $15/Hour Law

| Tom Jensen

Despite Maryland being one of the first states in the nation to increase its minimum wage to over $10/hour just two years ago, voters in the state are ready for another raise. A 58% majority favors increasing the state minimum wage – which is currently set to peak at $10.10 per hour by 2018 – to either $12/hour or $15/hour. 73% of Democrats and 57% of independents support the raise, and 60% of Republicans either agree with an additional boost or are in favor of the $10/hour plan signed into law by former Democratic Governor and Presidential candidate Martin O’Malley.

Support for a second raise is most fervent among voters in Baltimore, where the City Council is expected to vote on a proposed citywide wage increase to $15/hour this month. 57% of Baltimoreans favor joining cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle in increasing the city wage floor to $15/hour, while 79% back an increase to either $12/hour or $15/hour.

When it comes to other major national issues, Maryland is consistent with its label as one of the most liberal states in the country. 75% of Marylanders support the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan for regulating emissions from power plants, including 86% of Democrats and 56% of Republicans. 55% of voters support the Affordable Care Act to just 30% who oppose, in one of the more decisive showings of support we’ve seen for President Obama’s signature domestic policy. And 88% of voters are in favor of requiring a criminal background check for everyone who wants to buy a firearm, though as our polls throughout the country have shown, this is no longer a partisan issue as members of both parties are overwhelmingly united in support of background checks. 92% of Maryland Democrats, 80% of Republicans, and 85% of independents all favor instituting background checks for gun purchases.

Locally, Maryland sports, entertainment, and cuisine are defined by its two major population centers – the Baltimore metro region and the Washington, D.C. metro region – but voters statewide seem to prefer the offerings of Charm City over those of the Nation’s Capital. The Baltimore Orioles claim a greater than two-to-one advantage in fan support over the Washington Nationals, with 46% of Marylanders claiming allegiance to the O’s to 19% saying they back the Nats. Baltimore also claims greater loyalty statewide when it comes to professional football—38% of Maryland voters say they are fans of the Baltimore Ravens, while 22% say they’re fans of the Washington Redskins. 

Baltimore sports icons also rank among the most popular public figures in the state. Legendary Orioles shortstop/third baseman and Maryland native Cal Ripken boasts a near unanimous 75/6 favorability rating statewide, making him by far the most popular person included in this survey. 18-time Olympic gold medalist, Baltimore native, and Towson High School alumnus Michael Phelps is similarly revered at a 60/15 clip.

Baltimore culinary delicacies are wildly popular statewide. Crabcakes are both the most popular food in the state with an 81/12 favorability rating, and the preferred crab dish among Marylanders. 35% say the crabcake is their favorite way to enjoy Maryland’s iconic shellfish, while 28% say they prefer to endure the laborious yet ultimately gratifying pursuit of harvesting steamed hard shell crabs. Old Bay seasoning, which originated and is still produced in the Baltimore area, holds a whopping 79/10 favorability rating.

Despite Marylanders’ preference for the Baltimore sports and food scene, the city itself gets a mixed review from state voters. 37% of Marylanders view the city of Baltimore favorably, while 42% say they have an unfavorable opinion. Maybe not so coincidentally, the HBO series The Wire, which centers on the city’s violent illegal drug trade, is popular in the state with a 35/12 favorability rating. Baltimore residents themselves, just one year removed from the devastating riots following the death of Freddie Gray, are upbeat about the city, however, with 60% saying they have a positive opinion of Baltimore to just 20% with a negative opinion.

Washington, D.C., on the other hand, carries a strong 55/31 favorability rating, and when matched up head-to-head with Baltimore, the Nation’s Capital wins out 55/30 as Marylanders’ preferred city. Marylanders are not so into D.C. that they want to move in together, though. Just 28% of Maryland voters support annexing Washington, D.C. to 44% who oppose it.

Other key findings in the survey:

– Baltimore Orioles fans are optimistic about their team’s chances in the postseason following a strong start to the season. 52% of O’s fans say the team will win either the World Series or the American League pennant this year, and another 33% say the team will make the playoffs. Just 7% say that the Orioles will miss the playoffs for a second year in a row. Manager Buck Showalter is beloved among fans, sporting a 70/5 approval rating.

– Washington Nationals fans are also feeling good about this season, despite last year’s shocking late-season collapse. 57% of Nats fans say the team will win either the World Series or the National League pennant this year, and another 30% say the team will make the playoffs. Just 4% say the team will not make the playoffs this season.

– While the debate rages on in the corners of the Internet and the afternoon time slots on ESPN, Marylanders are narrowly convinced that Super Bowl winning Quarterback Joe Flacco is indeed elite. 39% of state voters say Flacco, who tied Joe Montana’s record for 11 touchdown passes without an interception in the 2013 playoffs, is a elite Quarterback, while 31% agree with the sagacious Skip Bayless and say he is not elite.

– A majority of Marylanders (57%) are opposed to the Washington Redskins changing their name, a surprising break from the state’s liberal tilt and largely apathetic attitude toward Dan Snyder’s struggling franchise.

– Fans of the Maryland Terrapins have regrets about the school’s move to the Big Ten in 2014. A plurality—40%—still wishes the Terps could pretend like they were Duke’s main rival in the ACC, while 35% have come to terms with the fact that they will continue to be outnumbered in their own football stadium by more fervent Big Ten fanbases.

– In a debate that dates back to the Civil War, Marylanders are still divided over whether they identify as part of the North or South. The North wins – again – in a squeaker, with 46% saying they consider Maryland a Northern state to 38% who consider it a Southern state.

Last but not least, Marylanders aren’t buying the legend of Chessie the Chesapeake Bay sea monster. Just 11% believe the Loch Ness-like beast roams in the world’s largest estuary to 71% who reject that claim.

Full results here

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