Release: October 22, 2001
for the Study of Local Issues
Arundel Community College
Contact: Dan Nataf (410) 777-2733
Terrorism Most Important Problem for County Residents
According to a survey conducted October 15-18 by the Center for the Study of Local Issues (CSLI) at Anne Arundel Community College, citizens are concerned about their personal security and the possibility of future terrorist attacks more than any other problem. According to the Center’s director, Dan Nataf, “the County’s residents are clearly concerned with the danger posed by terrorism, although they have not lost sight of the other issues also facing the County.”
While terrorism was the most important problem, cited by 18 percent of the respondents, it was closely followed by growth and development (14%), education (13%), crime (10%) and transportation (8%). (See Tables 1 and 2). (Note that Table 2 combines growth and transportation for reporting and comparison purposes).
Percentage Citing Item as County’s “Most Important Problem”
Table 2: “Most Important
Problem facing Residents” Fall 1995 to Fall 2001
Along with terrorism, the survey covered a range of other issues including the County’s tax/revenue cap, economic conditions, the backlog in school renovation and repair, redistricting, and some state issues including the law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Several questions in the survey touched on terrorism. The public was strongly inclined to think that “government should do much more than it already does to improve planning for emergencies such as a terrorist attack” (71% supported this position, 18% opposed, 11% were unsure).
One quarter of the respondents felt that “a terrorist attack on a location within Anne Arundel County over the next year” was “very likely” with the plurality (43%) saying that it was “somewhat likely.” Only 29 percent thought it was “not very likely.”
Residents did not seem particularly optimistic regarding
the ability of local government to handle a terrorist threat, with only 13
percent saying that “local authorities” were “very prepared” compared to
the 30 percent who thought them to be “not very prepared” (47% said
“somewhat prepared). Director
Nataf remarked, “this might be as much due to ignorance about the steps that
have been taken by local officials as anything else.
These results might be taken to mean that the County could better
communicate to the public to reassure citizens that appropriate measures have
A series of questions asked respondents to reveal “whether the events of September 11 have had a specific impact on your situation or plans.” Relatively few individuals admitted to canceling or changing their travel plans or avoiding the use of collective transportation such as buses or trains (all under 11%, see Table 3). Few also said that they had experienced a job loss related to the terrorist attack (5%). A small number mentioned that they had “avoided going out to restaurants” (6%), delayed or cancelled a major purchase (11%) or considered moving to another part of the country or to another country (10%).
A much larger number reported having experienced “economic losses other than job loss” (26%). Nearly one-fifth (19%) of those sampled admitted to “personally knowing someone who was injured or lost due to the terrorist attacks.” An even larger number (48%) said that they “personally knew someone who has been called to do military service as part of the US response to terrorism.”
Table 3: Terrorism’s Impact on Individuals Plans or Situation
Nataf emphasized, “this County is strongly tied to
national defense, with the Naval Academy, Fort Meade and the National Security
Agency all within its borders. These
survey findings suggest that there are a lot of families with members in the
reserves or national guard. Clearly,
many County residents have good reason to be focused on US efforts combating
Regarding how well President Bush’s strategy for combating terrorism is working, most respondents were mildly optimistic, with 56 percent saying that it was “working well” and another 31 percent saying “working somewhat.” Only five percent said it was “not working at all” although another seven percent were unsure.
There was little change from previous surveys in the percentage of residents agreeing that the revenue cap has “hurt the ability of the County to provide services to its citizens.” Since October 1998, the percentage perceiving any linkage between the revenue cap and shortfalls in County services has remained below 30 percent, falling to 25 percent in the current poll. (See table 4).
Nataf said “despite the possibility that residents might feel regarding the extra effort County government is required to make to ensure public safety in the aftermath of the terrorist strikes, there was no evidence that such a concern made its way into changing attitudes about the cap.”
Table 4: Percentage Agreeing that Revenue Cap has Hurt Ability of County to Provide Services: Spring 1996 to Fall 2001
In fact when a follow-up question mentioned to residents that “the County Executive and Council decided not to raise the property tax rate despite the fact that an increase in rates was permitted by the revenue cap” nearly three-quarters (73%) agreed with this decision while only 17 percent disagreed. Nataf mentioned that “these findings reinforce that the public welcomes any respite from taxes – there is no obvious political downside and probably a considerable upside to ‘not raising taxes.’”
Economic Conditions and Issues
Residents remained surprisingly upbeat about the local economy. Over three-quarters said that economic conditions in Anne Arundel County were excellent (14%) or good (64%). Only a small fraction said the local economy was only fair (17%) or poor (1%). Respondents were not quite as enthusiastic about the County’s efforts “to bring in new high tech companies over the last few year,” with only five percent saying “excellent” and 39 percent saying “good.” A sizable minority said “only fair” or poor” (32%), with a significant percentage unsure (23%).
However, an impressive number of County residents (40%)
claimed that they had “heard of a new high tech business park being built near
BWI called the National Business Park, suggesting that recent County successes
in attracting such companies by encouraging the building of such facilities had
not gone unnoticed. A statistical
analysis showed that those who had heard of the National Business Park were much
more likely to say that the County’s efforts at attracting high tech companies
was “excellent” or “good” compared to those who had not heard of the
Park (53% vs. 41%). Nataf affirmed
these findings show “the importance of the County effectively communicating
its accomplishments to County residents.”
Backlog in School Renovation and Repair
A majority (55%) of the public admitted that it did not know that “a few years ago, the backlog in school renovation and repair was estimated to be nearly $400 million.” A smaller percentage yet (30%) said that it knew that the County had invested about $100 million over the last three years to overcome this backlog. However, the vast majority (71%) approved of County spending on the backlog.
Despite this heightened spending, the survey’s respondents were by no means unanimous that the conditions of schools had improved. When asked, “how would you describe the condition of schools in your area,” only 30 percent said “improved,” while 27 percent said “same” and 16 percent offered “worse.” A large group (27%) had no opinion. Nataf suggested that “perhaps there is a connection between the level of spending, which has dealt with one-quarter of the backlog, and the percentage of schools that have improved, which is about the same.”
Another section of the survey dealt with Congressional and state legislative redistricting. The question had two part, the first of which read: “Anne Arundel County is represented by four members of the House of Representatives. Some people favor this arrangement, but others have suggested changes. Please tell me which of the following you prefer?” Respondents predominantly said (56%) “retain the current arrangement with four representatives.” Only seven percent agreed with “having one representative for most or all of the County.” Impressively, nearly one-quarter (23%) agreed with the proposal that there should be “one representative for the northern part of the County and another for the southern part.”
According to Nataf, some of the interviewers remarked that respondents said that “having four doors to knock on if there is some problem seems a lot better than having only one.” This perception that “more is better” might explain preference for multiple representatives.
When asked about whether respondents would prefer the current arrangement regarding state legislative districts, which generally have three House of Delegates members, over an alternative of smaller districts with only a single representative, again the “more is better” theory seemed to prevail, with 57 percent favoring the former and only 21 percent the latter (23% favored some other approach or had no opinion).
Maryland State Issues
Two Maryland state issues were addressed on the survey. The first inquired whether government should “put sharp restrictions on crabbing to help rebuild the stock of crabs.” A large majority agreed with this proposal (71%) with only a small minority opposing (18%, 11% had no opinion).
The other issue asked: “Do you support or oppose the law passed during the last session of the Maryland General Assembly prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation?”
Over two-thirds of those asked supported this measure (68%) with only a small minority against (19%, 11% had no opinion).
By contrast to previous surveys, there was no real change in Internet access this fall. The overall percentage saying they had “an Internet account that you use from your home” remained at 70 percent. The percentages saying they used a cable modem only went up from 13 to 14 percent; the percentage with digital subscriber lines (DSL) stayed constant at four percent. Nataf suggested that “the market for Internet services seems to have stabilized, with the overall market likely to have reached a threshold beyond which further increases in access will be slower.”
The survey polled a random sample of 354 county residents who were at least 18 years old. The statistical margin of error for the overall sample about five percent. Households were chosen from a database of households with listed telephone numbers in Anne Arundel County.
For information about this survey or CSLI, call Dan Nataf at 410-777-2733, or visit the CSLI web site at www.aacc.cc.md.us/csli where this press release is posted under “surveys.”
FALL 2001 QUESTIONNAIRE (with Percentages)
1.0 What do you think is the most important problem facing the residents of Anne Arundel County at the present time? (N=353)
2.0 Overall, would
you say that the County is headed in the right direction or in the wrong
(2) Wrong direction 15%
(0) Unsure or don’t know 19%
people believe that the County’s ability to provide certain services has
declined due to the County’s cap on revenue from property taxes. Others think
it hasn’t affected services.
Do you think the revenue cap has hurt the ability of the County to provide services to its citizens? (N=352)
(1) Yes 25% (2) No 57% (0) Don’t Know, No Answer 18%
2.2 The County Executive and Council decided not to raise the property tax rate despite the fact that an increase in rates was permitted by the revenue cap. Do you agree or disagree with this decision?
Agree 73% (2) Disagree
(0) Don’t Know, No
3.0 Thinking about our County's economy, how would you rate economic conditions in Anne Arundel County today -- excellent, good, only fair, or poor? (N=351)
(1) Excellent 14% (2) Good 64% (3) Only Fair 17% (4) Poor 1%
` (0) Don’t Know, No Answer 5%
3.1 How would you describe the County’s efforts to bring in new high tech companies over the last few years, excellent, good, only fair, or poor? (N=350)
(1) Excellent 5% (2) Good 39% (3) Only Fair 25% (4) Poor 7%
` (0) Don’t Know, No Answer 23%
Have you heard of a new high tech business park being built near BWI
called the National Business Park? (N=350)
(1) Yes 40% (2) No 55% (0) Don’t Know, No Answer 5%
A few years ago, the backlog in school renovation and repair was
estimated to be nearly $400 million. Over
the last three years, about $100 million has been invested into the schools by
3.3 The Governor has created an advisory committee designed to provide Marylanders with an opportunity to provide input into the redistricting process. It will be making recommendations about both Congressional and Maryland State legislative districts.
First, I would like to ask you about Congressional districts: Right now, Anne Arundel County is represented by four members of the House of Representatives. Some people favor this arrangement, but others have suggested changes. Please tell me which of the following you prefer? (N=347)
(1) Retaining the current arrangement with four representatives 56%
Having one representative for most or all of the County 7%
Have one representative for the “northern” part of the County and
another for the “southern” part 23%
Some other option 4%
No opinion, won’t say 10%
3.4 Some people believe that the legislative districts for Maryland’s General Assembly, which generally each have three representatives to the House of Delegates, should be changed, while others believe the current system works well. Which of the following do you prefer? (N=347)
the current arrangement 57%
Create smaller districts with only one House of Delegates representative per district 21%
other approach 5%
opinion, won’t say 18%
4.0 I am going to read you a list of
proposals regarding possible priorities for state or local government.
For each, please tell me whether you tend to support, oppose or have no
opinion about each proposal.
The next few questions deal with the impact of the terrorist attacks on September 11th to our county and its residents.
5.0 In your opinion, how likely is a terrorist attack on a location within Anne Arundel County over the next year, very likely, somewhat likely or not very likely? (N=341)
(1) Very likely
Somewhat likely 43%
6.0 How prepared do you believe local authorities to be in the event of a terrorist attack in Anne Arundel County, very prepared, somewhat prepared, not very prepared? (N=341)
(1) Very prepared
(2) Somewhat prepared 47%
7.0 The next items ask whether the events of September 11 have had a specific impact on your situation or plans:
8.0 Do you think that your situation and plans have been “getting back to normal” lately, or have any changes introduced after September 11 stayed a major part of your life? (N=340)
Back to normal 65%
(2) Stayed part of life 29%
(3) Unsure 4%
(0) No answer
9.0 Do you think that the strategy of combating terrorism followed by President Bush is working well, working somewhat, or not working at all? (N=339)
(1) Working well
(2) Working somewhat 31%
(3) Not working at all 5%
(4) Unsure 7% (0) No
are almost done. The last few
questions will help us to better understand your responses.
10.0 If you currently have an Internet account that you use from your home, what type of connection do you have? (N=337)
Don’t have an Internet connection at home
(2) Regular dial-up 50%
(3) DSL 4%
(4) Cable modem 14%
(5) Satellite 1%
(6) Other 2%
With which political party are you registered?
(1) Democratic 41% (4) None 10%
(2) Republican 35% (5) Other 1%
(3) Independent 11% (0) No Answer 3%
11.1 Did you vote in the 2000 Presidential election? (1) Yes 78% (2) No 22% (0) N.A. 1%
12. Which of the following best describes your political beliefs: Liberal, Moderate or Conservative?
(1) Liberal 16%
(2) Moderate 50%
(3) Conservative 27%
(0) Other, No Answer 7%
13.0 I am going to read some categories of age classifications. Please stop me when I reach the category in which your age falls. (N=337)
(1) 18 to 29 13%
(2) 30 to 44 30%
(3) 45 to 59 32%
(4) 60 or more 23%
(0) No Answer 1%
I am going to read some categories relating to education.
Please stop me when I reach the category in which the highest level of
your formal education falls. (N=336)
(1) less than a high school degree 5%
(2) a high school degree 18%
(3) some college or a two-year degree 31%
(4) completed college with a bachelor’s degree 26%
(5) post graduate work 19%
(0) No Answer 1%
I am going to read some categories relating to income.
Please stop me when I reach the category in which your household income
(1) Less than $30,000 10%
to $50,000 22%
to $75,000 20%
(0) No Answer 11%
race, how would you describe yourself? (N=334)
(5) Other racial background 4%
(0) No Answer 6%
17.0 Regarding Religion, how would you describe yourself? (N=330)
(1) Agnostic or Atheist 9%
(2) Protestant 41%
(3) Catholic 38%
(4) Jewish 2%
(5) Other 10%
18.0 What is your current marital status? (N=334)
How long have you lived in Anne Arundel County: median 20 years
20.0 Which of the following best describes your home: A
detached single family home, a townhouse, a condo, or an apartment? (N=331)
20.1 Do you own your home or is it rented? (1) Owned 82% (2) Rented
(0) No answer 3%
21.0 How many children living at home currently attend public or private school?
22.0 Gender of
respondent to whom you were speaking: (N=345)
(1) Male 42% (2) Female 58%