Concern about crime in county declines, survey finds More say transportation, growth are prime issue

November 03, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Crime continues to head the list of concerns for Anne Arundel County residents, but it's not as pressing an issue as it was six months ago.

A public opinion poll released Thursday by the Center for the Study of Local Issues at Anne Arundel Community College showed that 22 percent of 450 respondents cited crime as the most serious issue they face.

That figure represented a drop from April, when 31 percent of those surveyed selected crime.

Twenty-six percent of the respondents said they are concerned about growth and transportation, up from 18 percent last spring, said Daniel Nataf, director of the center.

"Every day, you're affected by traffic jams," he said. "But you might be affected by crime maybe once every 10 years, and that might be something like 'Someone stole my pumpkin off my porch.' "

The survey, taken Oct. 21-24, also showed that 62 percent of the respondents -- the same proportion as in April's poll -- favor a cut in the state income tax. Of those in support of a tax cut, 69 percent said they would oppose an increase in the state sales tax to make up for lost revenue, while 60 percent rejected the idea of expanding gambling.

"The attitude is that we have a bloated state government and that somewhere, we can cut some expenditures and give it back to the people," Nataf said. "The question of whether this is a realistic expectation depends on how much we're willing to sacrifice."

And in the final days before the presidential election, President Clinton has added to his lead over Republican challenger Bob Dole among residents, from four percentage points in April to 10.

About 50 percent of those surveyed favored Clinton, while 40 percent supported Dole. The rest favored Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot. The margin for error is 5 percent.

Nataf attributes the shift to the defection of moderate Republicans and the decision of independents to support Clinton. The president's recent stand on crime and welfare has affected Dole's base of support, Nataf said.

"He's not able to touch on the issues of concern to that group and bring them home to him," Nataf said of Dole. "He's losing more Republicans than [former President George] Bush did four years ago."

A surprising finding was that 52 percent of those polled said they agreed with "the changes the Republicans in Congress are seeking for the country." That figure, combined with a 53 percent majority claiming they would vote for the Republican candidate in their congressional district, suggests that the public is inclined to live with a Democratic president and a Republican-controlled Congress, Nataf said.

"It's something about Clinton," he said. "They like the divided government now, and they're trying to keep it."

The survey also found that an identical number of residents -- 29 percent for each category -- cited the county's convenient location and its access to waterways as its most valuable asset. Ten percent cited the mixture of rural and suburban areas, while 5 percent mentioned "peace and quiet" and parks as the county's most desirable attributes.

Pub Date: 11/03/96

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