Marylanders Mull Over the 2016 Primary Election

ST. MARY'S CITY, Md. (December 1, 2015)—In Maryland, Donald Trump at 27% and former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 24% lead Republican Presidential candidates vying to run against Hillary Clinton next November, according to a recent survey. Ted Cruz ranks third at 17% followed by Marco Rubio at 12%. Jeb Bush lags far behind at 5%.

The Maryland Public Opinion Survey, conducted by St. Mary’s College of Maryland politics expert Susan Grogan and students in her “American Politics” class, collected Maryland registered voters’ views on Maryland’s upcoming April 2016 Primary Election and other important issues.

According to favorability ratings, none of the 2016 candidates particularly stand out well. While Donald Trump leads Republicans if the election were held today, voters overall have the most “extremely unfavorable” (54%) impression of him with 67% being unfavorable generally toward Trump. He is followed closely by near equal disfavor toward Maryland’s former governor Martin O’Malley (66%), Jeb Bush (65%) and Rand Paul (62%).

Bernie Sanders is the only candidate for whom voters have a more favorable (52%) than unfavorable (39%) impression. However, only 19% of Democrats would vote for Sanders if the Primary was held today while 48% would vote for Hillary Clinton, whose overall favorability is second best at 48% favorable – 52% unfavorable. Carson compares closely with 46% favorable – 49% unfavorable. Only 40% favor Rubio and 35% Fiorina with Cruz favored like Trump by only 30%.

Other key findings include:

Many Democrats are undecided (14%) or would not vote for any of the Democratic candidates (12%). Overall voter dissatisfaction is expressed by 71% of respondents saying the U.S. is “headed in the wrong direction” versus 20% saying the U.S. is “on the right track.” Respondents overwhelmingly disprove (91%) of the performance of Congress. The other two branches of federal government fare much better with 46% approving of the way President Obama does his job and 49% approving of the effectiveness of the Supreme Court.

A number of questions were asked about the role of money in elections. The results suggest drastic campaign finance reform is needed. Most (43%) of our participants feel “candidates who raise the most money” most often win. When it comes to taxes, respondents are “bothered a lot” more about the complexity of the tax code (68%) and that corporations (68%) and the wealthy (62%) do not pay their fair share than they are about how much tax they personally pay (34%). Respondents are most concerned about ISIS and terrorism (42%) and national defense (32%) when asked about foreign policy.

The survey also asked a broad range of questions on Maryland and on debates, polls, and the media. Most suggest the state budget surplus should be spent on education. Most (90%) also think debates help them decide who to vote for and that PBS (35%) is by far the best of nine networks hosting Presidential debates this election cycle.

To view the complete survey results and analysis, visit

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