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Poll shows slight dip in Marylanders’ support for legalizing pot

The majority of Maryland residents who support legalizing recreational marijuana for adults has declined slightly, according to a poll released by Goucher College Tuesday.

That same poll shows that a majority of those questioned believe Republican Gov. Larry Hogan continues to do a good job. They also said the state is on the right track and have positive feelings about the state’s economy. Nearly 90% of those polled said they support keeping abortion legal but are divided on the circumstances.

Six in 10 people said they support or strongly support legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use — a decline from the 67% reported in March.

The poll surveyed 700 adults across the state from Oct. 14-20. The poll has a margin of error plus or minus 3.7%.

Mileah Kromer, director of the poll and a political science professor at Goucher College, said softening of support is only slightly outside the margin of error.

“The message I’d walk away with is that these numbers are very, very consistent,” said Kromer. “If the high-water mark was hit in March 2021, it dipped a little bit, but we haven’t dipped below where public support has been for the last five years. It’s still good. Sixty percent is still strong support.”

A work group consisting of members of the House of Delegates is meeting this week to discuss possible legislation legalizing recreational marijuana use for adults. The most likely track is an amendment to the state constitution. Such an amendment requires voter approval.

The poll has asked about legalization of marijuana since 2014. That first year, 50% of respondents said they would support or strongly support the legalization of medical cannabis.

Over the years, the poll has shown growing public support. In September 2018, the poll began asking about recreational rather than medical use of marijuana. That year, 62% said they would support legalization.

As the national debate over abortion moves again to the Supreme Court, a majority of people asked by the Goucher Poll said they favor legalized abortion.

Nearly 90% of those asked said abortion should be legal. Among those, 44% said it should be legal in all circumstances, and an equal number said it should be legal only in certain circumstances.

Among Democrats, 91% said it should be legal, including 57% who said it should be legal under any circumstance.

Republicans and independents in the state, with 81 and 91%, respectively, said abortion should be legal. But 65% of Republicans and 50% of independents said it should be limited to certain circumstances.

The poll continues to show that Hogan, a second-term Republican, maintains support in Maryland. In fact, if Hogan were a movie character, he’d perhaps be Ferris Bueller. The fictional high school student who could do no wrong was considered “a righteous dude” across the board by his fellow students.

In Hogan’s case, the Republican maintains his 60-70% approval ratings. He’s operated well within that range since he was first sworn-in in January 2015.

Hogan’s consistently high numbers buck traditional trends for second-term governors in the state. They generally see their approval numbers decline as incumbent fatigue sets in.

“The perceptions of the state and the economy are what drive his approval ratings,” said Kromer. “If people had a negative view of the economy Hogan wouldn’t be doing so well. Those things are absolutely tied together.”

In the poll, 60% of those asked said they believe the state is moving in the right direction. Fifty-three percent said they held a mostly positive view of the state’s economy. Those who held college degrees were much more likely to express that opinion.

A deeper dive into the numbers shows that he is nearly equally popular among men and woman; conservatives, liberals and independents; Blacks and whites; and those with and without a college degree.

Even among age groups, he remains consistently popular. His lowest approval rating is 54% from Marylanders 18-34 years of age. More than 70% of older respondents said they approved of the governor’s job, according to the poll.

Hogan’s overall approval numbers in Maryland are something for President Joe Biden to aspire to.

In the poll, 53% of Marylanders said they approve of the job Biden is doing. Within that is 80% of Democrats who approve of Biden. Among Republicans, 88% disapprove.

The gap among independent voters is thinner with 51% approving of Biden’s job so far and 43% saying they disapprove.

“It’s almost the exact inverse of what Marylanders felt about President Donald Trump,” said Kromer.