Only about a fifth of likely Baltimore voters think the city is moving in the right direction, while 65 percent believe the opposite, according to a new poll from WYPR, the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore.
That may explain why two of the top three mayor’s race candidates, Mary Miller and Brandon Scott, are polling so well, said Roger Hartley, the dean of the University of Baltimore’s College of Public Affairs.
The numbers add to “the mantra that voters are looking for a fresh new face,” Hartley said. “With someone like Miller surging or someone like Brandon Scott, who's still doing well and has increased his support, they are those fresh new faces.”
The poll was conducted by OpinionWorks, which is based in Annapolis. Pollsters spoke to 400 likely primary voters over the phone from May 11 to May 18, after sending some of them a postcard alerting them about the poll. The poll respondents reflect the city’s electorate, meaning they’re mostly black, female and over the age of 50. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Voters were asked, “In general, would you say things in the City of Baltimore are heading in the right direction or off on the wrong track?”
Right direction - 17%
Wrong track - 65%
Not sure/Refused to say - 18%
WYPR, the Sun and UB commissioned a similar poll that was published in early March; then, 73 percent of respondents said the city was on the wrong track.
Steve Raabe, the head of OpinionWorks, said he wouldn’t categorize the decrease as progress but as optimism as the June 2 citywide primary election nears.
“Oftentimes, right direction and wrong track numbers can improve a little bit because people are projecting onto their favorite candidate the hope that things are going to get better,” Raabe said. “And there might be a little bit of that going on here.”
Overall, Raabe said, the numbers are stark.
The voters who do think the city is heading in the right direction tend to favor incumbent Mayor Jack Young, who is running for the seat he inherited last spring. The Democrat is trailing in the race, polling at 5 percent.
“He clearly is viewed as the status quo candidate,” Raabe said.