Cook Report Throws Up Its Hands

The election predictor calls the Senate race a 'toss up.'

Morale will be good tonight at the Gabriel Gomez campaign; the highly respected Cook Political Report has just changed its rating on the Massachusetts US Senate race from “Lean Democrat” to “Toss Up.”

The explanation is a little less rosey. “In truth, we have had a difficult time accepting the idea that this race might get close,” writes Cook’s Jennifer Duffy, who made the call. “None of the circumstances that existed in early 2010 that paved the way for the upset that then-GOP state Sen. Scott Brown pulled over Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley are present.”

But clearly Cook had to take notice of the fact that with all the inherent advantages — and a four-to-one TV advertising advantage, according to a report it cites — Ed Markey has yet to pull away in polls with less than four weeks to go.

“We just see a polling trend that suggests it’s a single-digit race, and that’s our criteria,” Duffy tells me.

The Cook analysis itself still paints a pretty good picture for Markey, but the rating move could actually help Gomez close the gap. His campaign will undoubtedly use the news (without the more pessimistic details) to try to persuade more national Republican donors and organizations that the race is realistically winnable. If they buy it, they will put more resources behind Gomez, which just might help him get some real traction against Markey.