Cook Political Report hikes Pombo-McNerney competitiveness ranking

The Cook Political Report has upped its competitiveness ranking for the Congressional District 11 race between GOP Rep. Richard Pombo and Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney from “likely Republican” to “leans Republican.”

Here’s what Cook analysts wrote about their decision to move the ranking:

“That Pombo is vulnerable is not disputed. The most recent poll taken for the Defenders of Wildlife by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner showed Pombo trailing Democratic engineer Jerry McNerney 46 percent to 48 percent. A poll taken in May by Greenberg showed similar results. In that poll, Pombo was at 42 percent to McNerney’s 46 percent.

“The question now is what happens once this race gets engaged on the airwaves. Up until now, all communication has been on radio or in the mail. That’s why the low number of undecided voters in the latest Defenders of Wildlife poll seems hard to understand. While Pombo may carry some significant negatives, it’s hard to believe that voters in this Republican-leaning district are this eager to support a Democrat that they know very little about.

“In this expensive media market, Republicans and Pombo have the resource advantage to change the focus of the race. The DCCC had essentially written off this race when their favored candidate lost the primary to the more liberal Jerry McNerney. This means that the only help McNerney is likely to get is from the national environmental groups. Still, the NRCC has been dropping anti-McNerney mail in the district since earlier in September and it’s not clear that that has taken a toll on McNerney’s standing.”