- The Washington Times - Friday, January 11, 2002

BALTIMORE (AP) President Bush has received the highest approval rating among Maryland voters for any president in modern history, according to a poll conducted for the Baltimore Sun.
Mr. Bush's approval rating was 83 percent in the overwhelmingly Democratic state, according to the Maryland Poll, conducted by Bethesda-based Potomac Inc. President Clinton's rating was almost 20 points lower in Maryland at the height of his popularity as president.
The telephone survey of 800 registered voters was conducted Jan. 2 to 4, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
A year ago, only 45 percent of state voters predicted Mr. Bush would do a good job as president. But they now express overwhelming support for his response to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and very few said they believed civil liberties are eroding as a result.
The poll showed 76 percent of the state's voters agree with all the steps the Mr. Bush has taken in the war on terrorism, while only 15 percent said they were worried about civil liberties.
The most dramatic turnaround for Mr. Bush was his popularity among blacks. Sixty-six percent said they approve of the job he is doing, compared to 17 percent a year ago.
The survey also found some concern about the state's economy, but overall optimism it will rebound.
Sixty percent of those who responded said Maryland's economy is about the same as it was four years ago, while 25 percent said it is getting worse and 10 percent said it is getting better.
Six percent of those polled representing 11 percent of the employed respondents said they were afraid of losing their jobs.
But 83 percent said their personal finances were better or the same as they were four years ago, roughly the same response as last year.
Thirty-nine percent said the faltering economy is their biggest concern since September 11, and 22 percent said they fear a public-health crisis such as anthrax contamination. Twenty-one percent said they are concerned about another terrorist attack.
Voters in three of the state's wealthiest counties Anne Arundel, Howard and Montgomery are most likely to report that their lives have not returned to normal since September 11. Those counties, particularly Montgomery, are close to the anthrax attacks that affected the Capitol and the Brentwood postal facility in Northeast.
The biggest specific change in their lives, voters said, was in charitable giving, with 69 percent statewide reporting they had donated to the Red Cross or other relief funds.
Twenty-three percent said they are spending less money; 14 percent are avoiding crowded places; 12 percent canceled travel plans; and 7 percent stopped opening their mail.

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