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Mayor Brandon Scott faces tough reelection odds with approval waning, Goucher Poll finds

Polls show how voters see state's progress
Polls show how voters see state's progress 01:00

BALTIMORE --  Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott has a tough path to reelection as he faces low approval ratings and a strong rival next year, according to the latest Goucher College Poll.

The poll, released Tuesday morning in partnership with WJZ media partner The Baltimore Banner, surveyed 711 Baltimore City registered voters from Sept. 19 to 23. The poll has a 3.7 percentage point margin of error.

The voters were asked about their opinions of city leaders, issues facing the city and how the city is doing. 

"The persistent problem of crime and frustrations toward city schools and services have certainly soured attitudes toward elected officials-with the notable exception of City State's Attorney Ivan Bates, who earns solid job approval numbers-and the direction of the city," said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College, which conducts the poll. 

"But despite the problems facing Baltimore City, voters maintain a sense of optimism that things can get better," Kromer continued.

Pollsters found 37 percent of voters approve of Scott, while 57 percent disapprove and 5 percent don't know. 

Asked if the Democratic primary election for Baltimore City mayor were held today, 27 percent of registered Democratic voters said they would vote to reelect Scott, but 39 percent would vote for disgraced former Mayor Sheila Dixon, who announced her third bid for mayor last month. 

Twenty-three percent of Democrat voters said they would prefer "some other candidate" for mayor, while eight percent are undecided.

In January 2010, Dixon was forced to leave office after a misdemeanor conviction for using gift cards intended for the needy.

When she announced her intent to run Thursday, she pled for forgiveness and said her administration would thrive in transparency and accountability.

Dixon almost got a second chance in the 2020 election - but she came up short by a little more than 2 percentage points to Mayor Scott.  

The poll found that Democrat voters viewed Dixon as more competent in key issues like managing city agencies, working with private industry to improve the economy, reducing crime, improving public education and attracting City residents. 

The results for those key issues are below: 

The Goucher College Poll   

Outlook on the City 

Those polled said crime and public safety (90%), litter and illegal dumping (76%), and a lack of affordable housing (74%) are the most pressing issues the city faces. 

Voters opinions of city leaders and entities were generally dim with one notable exception, newly elected State's Attorney Ivan Bates, who took office in January.   

"Incumbency comes with immense power but also accountability," Kromer said. "Given the frustrations over crime and city services expressed by voters, it's not surprising that both Mayor Brandon Scott and City Council President Nick Mosby are facing tough reelection contests from viable challengers."

Bates leads in approval by far with 57 percent of voters approving of the job he's doing, while 21 percent disapprove, and 20 percent don't know, the survey found. 

City Council President Nick Mosby has the lowest approval rating at 26 percent, with 60 percent dissaproval and 13 percent not knowing, the poll found. 

Thirty-four percent approve of now-confirmed Police Commissioner Richard Worley, while 31 percent approve of the Baltimore Police Department. 

City Schools CEO Sonja Santileses faces a 26 percent approval rating and 51 percent disapproval. 

Goucher Poll

Mosby's challenger Zeke Cohen, who represents Baltimore's 1st District, is viewed more favorably. Asked if the Democratic primary was held today, 30 percent of Democrat voters said they would vote for Cohen, compared to 17 percent for Mosby. 

Thirty-four percent said they would prefer "some other candidate" for council president, while 18 percent are undecided.  

"With so many voters saying they want to see other candidates in the race, the key electoral dynamics to watch over the next few months are whether other high-quality candidates get into those respective races—and, of course, whether the incumbents can improve their standing with the public," Kromer said. 

Read the full Goucher College Poll results here.

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