Seven weeks into the new administration, 62% of Marylanders approve of how President Joe Biden is handling his job as president, while 31% disapprove, according to a new poll from Goucher College in Towson.

Support of recreational marijuana is on the rise, and Marylanders are more optimistic about the direction the state is heading in, the poll also finds. COVID-19 is the overwhelming concern of respondents.

In assessing views on Biden’s performance, pollsters found a sharp divide among party lines. Among Democrats, 86% approved of the job Biden is doing, while only 17% of Republicans expressed approval of the president.

During a similar point in former President Donald Trump’s term, Trump received a 29% approval rating in Maryland.

Two months after an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Marylanders are profoundly disturbed about the state of democracy.

Overall, fewer than one in three Marylanders — 31% — say they are satisfied with the current condition of American democracy. Broken down by party, 40% of Democrats say they are satisfied, compared with 16% of Republicans, and 30 percent of people who are unaffiliated or independent.

About two-thirds — 64% — said they are unsatisfied, including 59% of Democrats, 80% of Republicans, and 61% of unaffiliated and independent people.

Two-thirds of Marylanders support the legalization of the use of recreational cannabis, a figure higher than in the past.

Maryland has allowed medical marijuana for several years, and the General Assembly again is considering the legalization of recreational cannabis, as at least 14 states and the District of Columbia have done. Among Democrats, 77% say they support recreational pot, as do 50% of Republicans and 60% of independents.

“We’ve consistently found that a majority of Marylanders support the legalization of recreational cannabis, but this is the first time Republican support has reached 50 percent,” Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher, said in a statement.

When Goucher surveyed Marylanders two years ago about their opinion of legalizing recreational use of cannabis, 57% of people supported it and 37% opposed it.

Gov. Larry Hogan’s approval rating remains high, but is slightly lower than when Goucher surveyed Marylanders in October 2020.

The poll released Tuesday showed that 65% of Marylanders approve of the job Hogan is doing as governor, 25% disapprove, and 9% said they don’t know.

In October, 71% percent of people approved of how Hogan is doing. This time last year, Hogan’s approval rating was 62%.

Pollsters found that 48% of Marylanders approve of the job that the state legislature is doing, 30% disapprove and 19% said they don’t know.

Overall, 62% of Marylanders said Maryland is heading in the right direction, while 31% said the state is on the wrong track.

That’s up significantly from a year ago, when fewer than half of people surveyed said Maryland was heading in the right direction.

When asked to identify the most important issue that Maryland is facing today, 48% of Marylanders said COVID-19, 15% said economic issues and 7% said education.

The Goucher Poll was conducted by the college’s Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center. The center surveyed 725 Marylanders by phone from Feb. 23-28, and the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

For responses that include registered voters and party breakdown, the sample size was lower, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at marcus@baltimorefishbowl.com...