Political sports: Ravens top Redskins

If the Ravens and Redskins met in the Superbowl, more than half of Maryland's likely voters would cheer for the team in purple, a Baltimore Sun poll has found.

Of 798 respondents who also answered weightier questions about the governor's race and their financial worries, 51 percent said they'd root for the Ravens while 31 percent would back the Redskins in a theoretical Superbowl matchup.

A closer look at the numbers reveals that fans of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. prefer the Ravens to Redskins by a wider margin than supporters of Gov. Martin O'Malley. (Ehrlich voters: 55 percent to 30 percent, O'Malley voters: 50 to 32.)

Redskins fans appear more enthusiastic about O'Malley than Ravens fans. (Redskins fans: 53 percent to 37 percent for Ehrlich, Ravens fans: 51 to 40)

Politicians in the making? Six O'Malley voters volunteered that they would "root for both teams," while only one Ehrlich voter gave such a fence-sitting answer.

Both candidates have closer ties to the Ravens. Ehrlich, who played ball at Princeton, grew up in and represented Baltimore County as a delegate and a member of Congress. O'Malley was mayor of Baltimore when the team won the 2001 Superbowl, though he grew up in Montgomery County, Redskins territory. 

The Ravens dominate in nearly every category of poll respondent -- black, white, male, female, Democrats, Republicans.

Baltimore's team also seems to have locked down its region in a way the Washington team has not. In metro Baltimore, 75 percent of poll-takers said they'd cheer for the Ravens. But in metro Washington, the Redskins can count on the support of only 56 percent of voters.

Maryland's two pro football teams have become somewhat of a hot-button this election year.

At debate this month in Washington, a moderator asked Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. what they would do to keep the Redskins in Prince George's County in the event of a threatened defection to the District, which the team has said it has no plans to do. 

Ehrlich replied that Redskins owner Dan Snyder is a fan and campaign contributor. "Obviously, having two franchises in Maryland is fantastic," he said, but went on to say there are big traffic problems with the Landover stadium.  "We'll see where the franchise wants to go, where the owner wants to go, and what the taxpayers have to say about it, as well."

(O'Malley camp quickly issued a release with the screaming headline: EHRLICH WOULD ALLOW TOP DONOR SNYDER TO MOVE REDSKINS BACK TO DC.)

In response to the debate question, O'Malley said he wasn't sure of the right answer. "But we would like to keep the Redskins stadium, and the Redskins playing in Prince George's County," he said.

Another debate question sough gubernatorial advice on how to the Orioles could improve. O'Malley offered, "Practice, practice, practice." Ehrlich thought they needed "a power-hitting first baseman."

The Sun's pollster didn't ask any questions about that team.

(Sun photos: Ehrlich in August at Ravens training camp in Westminster. O'Malley in January 2007 talking to Ray Lewis.)

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