McNerney a ‘moderate’ in national ranking



Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is the most moderate member of the California delegation in the House of Representatives, according to the National Journal’s 2009 vote ratings.

McNerney’s composite conservative score is 46.8, which means he is more conservative than 46.8 percent of his House colleagues nationwide. The closest conservative scores among other Democrats from California were for reps. Dennis Cardoza, D-Atwood, and Jim Costa, D-Fresno, 44.7 and 46.2 percent respectively.

The National Journal is a well-respected, nonpartisan Washington, D-C.-based organization that publishes, among other things, the annual Almanac of American Politics.

The journal staff based the scores on member’s votes on 92 economic, social and foreign policy issues in 2009. Click here to visit the Journal’s inter-active web site and find all the scores and a list of specific votes used in the analysis.

For comparison purposes, GOP Rep. Tom McClintock, R- is the most conservative California congressman and ranks ninth in the House with a score of 92.8 percent.  On the other side of the aisle, reps. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood, and Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, are tied for the spot as No. 1 liberal in the House.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not rated as the speaker rarely votes.

McNerney has grown more conservative since his first year in office in 2007, when his voting record was 70 percent more liberal than his House colleagues. In 2008, that percentage dropped to 55 percent. It fell slightly in 2009, to 53.2 percent more liberal or, put another way, his conservative composite score was 46.8.

Centrism is an uneasy place to stand on the political spectrum. Both liberals and conservatives often view moderates with disdain.

McNerney is seeking re-election to a third term in one of the few competitive districts in the state. It is less competitive than it used to be; Republicans hold only small lead, less than one-quarter of one percent, down from a 6 percentage point advantage when McNerney beat then-Republican incumbent Richard Pombo in 2006.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Being “moderate” is McNerney’s insurance policy in the 11th CD. As of today, he is likely to win another term.

  • John W.

    He’ll get my vote, but anything’s possible in the current overall political environment.

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    Just for the record, lvorderbrueggen and RR, Uninvited Columnist, I moderately give my full name with no claims to fame on my responses to these blogs. Barry Goldwater lost big time by saying a few things about moderation and extremeism that are still applicable today.

  • I don’t dispute most of the following: “The National Journal is a well-respected, nonpartisan Washington, D-C.-based [sic] organization that publishes, among other things, the annual Almanac of American Politics.” The National Journal actually is a magazine as well, but that’s besides the point.

    The “rankings” should be taken with a grain of salt. Though I don’t doubt Congressman McNerney has taken some more “moderate” positions since winning a second term (accurately reflecting the views of the 11th district), the “rankings” have some selection biases built in to what votes are classified as “conservative” versus “liberal”.

    For example, up until Obama took office in 2009, McNerney doubtlessly voted with Democratic party leadership quite a bit, mostly as a way to force former President George W. Bush to either exercise his veto power or, in some cases, when the G.O.P. minority was not totally the “Party of No”, override a veto. With a Democratic president, such votes become more moderate and mainstream and, therefore, one’s “partisan ranking” changes.

  • John W.

    The rankings aren’t a perfect measure, but they belie the notion that McNerney is some sort of “San Francisco liberal,’ out of touch with his district and taking orders from Pelosi. By D.C. standards, I see McNerney as a no-nonsense workhorse, not a showhorse, which is a huge improvement over the horse’s a** we had before.