- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2008

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland residents say Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, is doing a worse job than President Bush, according to a new poll released yesterday.

Marylanders gave Mr. Bush, a Republican, a 36 percent job-approval rating, just slightly more than the 33 percent they gave Mr. O’Malley, according to the Fox 5/The Washington Times/Rasmussen Reports poll.

A separate poll in Virginia shows 51 percent of residents approved of the work Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, is doing, while 46 percent approved of Mr. Bush’s work.

The polls of 500 likely voters in each state have a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

Mr. O’Malley’s approval rating slipped 1 percentage point from October, before he called lawmakers back to Annapolis to raise $1.4 billion in taxes. But respondents who said he was doing a “poor” job increased from 30 percent to 37 percent.

O’Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese declined to comment.

The polls show Maryland and Virginia voters take a conservative view on key social issues that lawmakers will address when their respective 2008 General Assembly sessions begin this week.

Two-thirds of Marylanders, 66 percent, support giving police officers the right to check the immigration status of drivers when they are pulled over for a traffic violation, but only 55 percent think illegal aliens should be deported if they’re discovered.

More than three-quarters of Marylanders, 76 percent, said illegals should be barred from obtaining driver’s licenses.

Maryland is one of eight states that provides licenses to illegals.

More than half of Marylanders — 62 percent — did not think the General Assembly’s special session in the fall was the appropriate way to close the state’s budget deficit, estimated at the time to be at least $1.5 billion.

Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch dismissed the negative response. “I think you can find a poll in every corner, and everybody’s going to have a different opinion,” said Mr. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat.

Marylanders largely support the death penalty — 51 percent to 35 percent who want to repeal it. And a greater majority, 71 percent, want the opportunity to vote on the issue.

Efforts in Maryland to repeal the death penalty have failed frequently and are unlikely to pass again this year, though Mr. O’Malley has imposed a de facto moratorium.

Virginians largely favor establishing English as the national language — 84 percent support the measure. And nearly three-quarters thinks it’s OK for employers to require workers to speak English.

Nearly 65 percent of the Virginians polled said they wanted the “abuser” fees against Virginia drivers repealed during the 60-day legislative session in Richmond that begins tomorrow.

The Virginia poll reflects the public outcry candidates faced on the campaign trail last year, which encouraged some of the state’s top elected officials, including, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a Republican, to call for a repeal of the package.

“While this was the most noble of efforts, it simply has not worked out the way it was intended, and it has become terribly unpopular in the public eye,” he said. “That is why I favor the total repeal of the abusive driver fees, as opposed to their modification.”

Delegate David B. Albo, Fairfax County Republican, supports revising the fees, but not repealing them. He said the poll failed to ask residents how they want to generate the projected $65 million a year in revenue needed for roads or whether “they think that people who drive drunk and maim people should not have to pay extra.”

“Those are the follow-up questions that no poll would ever do,” he said. “Did anybody answering this poll understand what this bill really said?”

MARYLAND AND VIRGINIA SPEAK

A new poll shows how Maryland and Virginia voters rate their governor and the president, as well as their thoughts on such issues as Maryland’s recent special legislative session and Virginia’s “abusive” driver fees.

MARYLAND

How do you rate the way George W. Bush, a Republican, is performing his role as president?

16 percent excellent

20 percent good

15 percent fair

48 percent poor

1 percent not sure

How do you rate the way Martin O’Malley is performing his role as governor?

6 percent excellent

27 percent good

27 percent fair

37 percent poor

4 percent not sure

The recent special session of the General Assembly resulted in $1.3 billion in new taxes. Was this the best way to close the state’s budget deficit?

17 percent yes

62 percent no

21 percent not sure

If a Maryland police officer pulls over someone for a traffic violation, should the officer automatically check to see if that person is in the country legally?

66 percent yes

25 percent no

9 percent not sure

If an officer finds that a person pulled over for a traffic violation is an illegal immigrant, should that person be deported?

55 percent yes

23 percent no

22 percent not sure

VIRGINIA

How do you rate the way George W. Bush is performing his role as president?

22 percent excellent

24 percent good

13 percent fair

14 percent poor

How do you rate the way that Tim Kaine, a Democrat, is performing his role as governor?

16 percent excellent

35 percent good

31 percent fair

16 percent poor

2 percent not sure

Should Virginia’s “abusive” driver fees be repealed in 2008?

64 percent yes

21 percent no

15 percent not sure

Source: Fox 5/The Washington Times/Rasmussen Reports poll

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