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Who knew? Baltimore truly tuned in to the presidential debates

October 17, 2008 |  3:02 am

On the list of noncompetitive states in this year's presidential campaign, Maryland ranks right up there. In the heavily Democratic state, a mid-September poll showed Barack Obama 23 percentage points ahead of John McCain.

The lack of a race for Maryland's 10 electoral votes, however, did not deter folks living in and around Baltimore from being the nation's most interested audience for the just-completed presidential debate series.

In the Nielsen Co.'s viewership ratings for the nation's major markets, the city and its surrounding communities ranked first twice (for Wednesday's wrap-up Obama/McCain encounter and the Oct. 2 face-off between vice presidential rivals Joe Biden and Sarah Palin) and third twice (for the other two debates featuring the tops of the tickets).

The St. Louis market gave Baltimore a run for its money in the viewership derby. A higher percentage of TVs in the St. Louis area were tuned to the first presidential debate, on Sept. 26, than anywhere else in the nation. And it ranked No. 2 for the vice presidential debate and No. 3 for Wednesday's forum.

But something diverting must have been going on in the Gateway City when McCain and Obama met for their second debate on Oct. 7 -- it placed 11th in viewership for that one.

The Times' Matea Gold has more on the debate ratings at our Show Tracker blog.

— Don Frederick

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