Thursday, May 31, 2012

CA-33: An NPP with a Shot?

The Commission made a number of odd choices, with some benefitting Republicans and other benefitting Democrats. CA-33 is the district where Democrats got the biggest gift. Ten years ago Democrats tacked on Palos Verdes peninsula into an Orange County district. Yes, it was somehow possible to do that. The Peninsula is the most Republican area in the county south of Santa Clarita. The Commission wouldn't do something like that, would they?

It turns out they could. They restored the Peninsula to the district but removed Torrance. If you know the area then you know that Torrance is the business and shopping center of the South Bay. They've carved the heart out of the district. What do they do? They connected the district with Santa Monica by using a small strip of land, Dockweiler Beach, where no one lives. I can come up with no explanation other than they wanted to draw a district for Henry Waxman.

Meg Whitman lost the district by 14 points. While that sounds like a lot, Whitman lost CA-47 by 10 points and CA-41 by 12. Both are considered competitive this year. Of course they are both open seats and Waxman is a heavyweight incumbent. Half the district is brand new to Waxman and the Republicans in that half of the district despises him. I don't use that word lightly. Republicans dislike Henry Waxman more than any Democratic congressman in the LA area. But there aren't enough Republicans for that to matter.

Here's the twist of Top Two. There's only one Republican in the race, lightweight Chris David. I've met Chris. He seems like a good guy and I think he's pretty smart. His last FEC report showed he's raised $8,848 for the entire cycle. That's a ridiculously small number. Of course, I've postulated that it doesn't matter. Republicans will see "Republican" on the ballot and vote for him. Usually, yes.

There are two alternatives to David for Republicans, Libertarian Steve Collett and independent Bill Bloomfield. Could Republicans be enticed to go with Bloomfield or Collett. Bloomfield has put $1.1 million of his own money into the race and Collett has funded his campaign with $211k of his bank account. If there's one district where Republicans don't vote Republican, this'll be it.

If Bloomfield makes Top Two, his status as "No Party Preference" could give him a shot. Check in after Tuesday if he does.

California Assembly and Senate Races

As with all the races this year, the California Assembly races are interesting because there are new districts, the top two, and term limits creating open districts. Right now I see the legislature as 48 Democrats and 25 Republicans. The GOP would need to take only 2 of the remaining competitive seats to avoid the Democrats getting the 2/3 they'd need to pass tax increases. While the Democrats are underdogs to take 2/3 of the assembly.

Due to the California Supreme Court's inexplicable decision to use maps that state law says they can't use, the Democrats look poised to take 2/3 in the senate. Democrats will win at least 24 of the seats easily, while Republicans only have 11 safe seats. Jerry Brown won 4 of the remaining 5 districts, albeit by mostly small margins. Incumbent Democrat Fran Pavley is running in the state senate district that Meg Whitman won.

There's not a lot of competition in the competitive seats but check out these:

SD-5: Democrat Cathleen Galgiani will face off against either Republican Leroy Ornellas or Republican Bill Berryhill. Berryhill is favored Tuesday, but both he and Ornellas should be good candidates.

SD-19: This district has Republican Mike Stoker advancing against either of the Democrats, Hannah-Beth Jackson or Jason Hodge. Jackson is popular with the Democratic party, but Hodge is a good candidate.

SD-31: Republican Jeff Miller will face off against either of the Democrats, Richard Roth or Steve Clute. Roth is the favorite, but a Clute win won't change the district's prospects in November.

AD-60: Democrat Jose Perez will advance along with one of the Republicans, Stan Skipworth, Greg Kraft, or Eric Linder. Skipworth is the favorite, but I think Linder will surprise.

AD-66: Democrat Al Muratsuchi will face one of the Republicans, Craig Huey or Nathan Mintz. First, I'd like to disclose that I volunteered on Huey's congressional race last year and that I know people working on his campaign. Huey comes into the race with high name recognition and a nice war chest. Mintz is only 27 and is the founder of the South Bay Tea Party. He ran for a similar, although more Democratic seat, in 2010 and lost. I couldn't find any mention of the Tea Party on Mintz's website. It might be there, but I'd figure that it'd be easy to find. Two people I know mentioned to me that Mintz had turned off people in the Tea Party and while they supported him in 2010, they were behind Huey in 2012.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

CA-47: A gift to Republicans?

No one expected Republicans to have a chance in a district that covered Fairfield, Vacaville, and Davis. Yet the commission tacked on rural Republicans in CA-3.

CA-47 is a similar gift. No one expected Republicans to have a shot in a Long Beach district. In a Republican gerrymander, they'd take parts of Orange County their districts didn't need and put them with parts of L.A. County. The Republicans would've included the Gateway cities, areas that are Democratic but get some Republican votes. Long Beach is more Democratic, but not nearly as Democratic as Compton.

The district has enough Republicans where a Republican could win, as Steve Cooley did by 5.5 points in 2010. John McCain didn't win the district. The source of this is Redistricting Partners and they miscalculated. If you enter the district into Dave's Redistricting App you'll get a 58%-39% Obama win. Cooley was the only one to win the district in 2010, so while it's an opportunity for the GOP, any candidate will be an underdog. It might not be that much of a gift.

The race has 4 Republicans and 4 Democrats, but no Democrat is expected to take much of Alan Lowenthal's vote. He'll sail to November. The real race is between Gary DeLong and Steve Kuykendall. DeLong got the state party endorsement but despite a close vote he didn't earn it from the county. He has been recognized by the NRCC, but that status is overblown in a primary. Any candidate who raises enough money is included in the Young Guns. They aren't supporting him in the primary.

DeLong is using that monetary achievement to his advantage and is reaching area Republicans. He argues that Republicans need someone who can fundraise, because it'll take a lot of money to win it and you can't count on the NRCC. Kuykendall has been very active in the district, but his fundraising numbers have lagged far behind DeLong's. Kuykendall is hoping that name recognition from his 1999-2001 stint in congress will make up for the money deficit. A poll from last October supported this, but it was taken over 7 months before election day and was commissioned by Democrat Lowenthal. Candidates put out internal polls because they want to send a message, not because they want to enlighten people or be accurate. In this case Lownethal was trying to keep former state senator Joe Dunn out of the race. Dunn never entered the race.

On June 5 it should come down to Kuykendall and DeLong for 2nd place and DeLong looks to have an edge.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

California Absentee Bodes Ill for Democrats

In most congressional district, turn out on June 5 doesn't matter. Due to the limited number of quality candidates, a Republican and a Democrat are assured of advancing. There are a few where that could be an issue. I'm not saying it will be, but it could. Absentee numbers are updated through yesterday. Turn out doesn't always follow absentee, but it may indicate where it's going.

CA-2: I wish I had a clever name for the munchie seat, but I'll just go with that one for now. There are a slew of quality Democrats and only two Republicans. The question here is whether two Democrats advance or a Republican and a Democrat do. The 55%D/25%R turn-out leaves the top two up in the air. The Democratic problem is that they have four quality candidates fighting for votes. It's likely that two candidates won't clear 20%. Some independent voters will vote Republican, so we can safely assume the Republican share will be over 25%, if not 30%. If party endorsed candidate Dan Roberts takes the lion's share, he finishes top two. If he and Mike Halliwell split the vote, two Democrats could advance.

CA-26: Democrats have a 5.5% registration edge. The district is expected to be much closer to a toss-up. Absentees have gone the other way. So far 45% of the vote is from Republicans and 40% from Democrats. We don't know where Linda Parks' vote will come from. I suspect she'll get her base of Republicans and she may steal Democrats. Independents are thought to be her bread and butter. They're not voting in high numbers. That could be good for Democrat Julia Brownley but she can't know for sure. She'd like to see a higher Democratic vote share.

CA-30: Will Howard Berman and Brad Sherman advance? So far the electorate is 31% Republican. If these Republicans vote for one Republican, then both Sherman and Berman won't advance. I can't see them both getting above 31%, especially with another Democrat and a Green in the race. Berman is assumed to be trailing, so either he needs Mark Reed and Susan Shelley to split the vote or take a good share of Republicans. Maybe.

CA-52: Republicans have a 41%-35% advantage in absentee returns, a better advantage than registration would suggest. It's highly unlikely that two Republicans could sneak in, but these numbers aren't helpful.

CA-31: Insert Justin Kim's name here

For entertainment purposes, no race tops the CA-2 race, where each candidate is trying to be more in favor of illegal drugs. CA-31, however, is working hard. Congressman Gary Miller is the incumbent here, event though he doesn't actually currently represent any of the constituents. It's not like Miller is traveling far. He currently represents Chino, Diamond Bar, and parts of northern Orange County. His district is 7-10 miles south. In most states the two areas would be in the same district, but not in densely populated Southern California. All that's to say that Gary Miller lives just outside the district, just as Democrat Blong Xiong does in CA-21.

Miller mistakenly posted the outtakes from a video session. Before he could take it down, Democrat Pete Aguilar seized it and edited it with his own commentary. There really isn't anything negative on the video. So the Miller campaign has decided to embrace it. Kinda takes the wind out of their sails.

This is one of three districts, along with CA-26 and CA-52, where there might be more than one candidate on each side getting some serious votes. State senator Bob Dutton represents this area. Attorney Justin Kim has emerged as a possible threat to Aguilar. Both are underdogs. I have a gut feeling, however, that this isn't going to be as simple as the favorites both advancing. Maybe it'll be Kim. Maybe it'll be Dutton.

Yes, I'm having some fun with the title of the post, but I got my highest 2012 one day view total the last time his name was in the title.

Monday, May 21, 2012

CA-2: The Pot Race

Coastal Northern California is the home to a lot of counter-culture/hippie/pot smoking lefties. Apparently it is now the seat where you have to out toke the next guy. They're all expressing a desire for legalization of marijuana, and even the Republicans don't strongly oppose it. Now one candidate says he'll smoke a joint on Capitol Hill. Obviously he made this announcement to get press, as Andy Caffrey wouldn't get otherwise. He isn't making top two. In two weeks he'll just be another pot smoking hippie.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pelosi: House majority race 'dead even'

This is the most laughable assertion. As discussed earlier this month, if both sides will win the seats they have likely or better, the divide will be Republicans 211 Democrats 170. The Democrats will have to win 89% of the remaining races.

Those races aren't all 50%-50%. More favor the Republicans, as many are Republican incumbent seat. But even if we assume these races are 50/50 the odds of the Democrats winning 89% of the competitive seats is over 5,000 to 1. That's, in essence, 0% not 50%.

Circumstances could change to favor the Democrats in the House, although I don't see how since 2nd term Presidents have very short coat tails. Pelosi, of course, isn't talking about circumstances changing to favor the Democrats. She's talking about today.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

CA-51: There's Something to Watch

CA-51 should be slightly more interesting on June 5. Only slightly. This is a new heavily Democratic Hispanic district that stretches from Imperial County into South San Diego county. Any district that we know which party will win in November doesn’t warrant a lot of attention.

The district does have two strong Hispanic Democrats, ex-state assemblyman Juan Vargas and ex-state senator Denise Ducheny. Ducheny is considered the more progressive choice. The district is 50% Democratic and 22% Republican. In 2010 Democratic candidates beat Republican candidates 63%-37%. If there were a Republican candidate that stood out, he or she would be certain to finish top two. There are three Republicans in the race, who’ve reported $354 raised between the three of them. Xanthi Gionis has the state party endorsement but if that’s the only thing that separates her from Michael Crimmins and Bernard Portley. If they split the vote, Vargas and Ducheny will both finish top two. If not, then the real race to see who’ll be the next rep is June 5.

CA-7, 9, and 10: Ho Hum

These districts are similar. Each has an incumbent. It’s Republicans Dan Lungren and Jeff Denham in CA-7 and 10 and Democrat Jerry McNerney in CA-9. In each the incumbent has no intraparty challenge and will get the most votes in the primary. Each district has a challenger who is highly regarded by his party and not a politician. None should have trouble advancing.

In CA-7 Dan Lungren is once again being challenged by Indian-American Democrat Ami Bera. Bera gave Lungren a decent run in 2010 and is well positioned to do so in 2012. The other candidates in the race perennial Libertarian candidate Doug Tuma and NPP Curt Taras have raised $200. Combined. Both will finish in the low single digits.

In CA-9 Jerry McNerney is being challenged by Indian-American Republican Ricky Gill. Gill does have a Republican challenger, businessman John McDonald. McDonald has raised a meager amount of money and Gill has the state party’s endorsement. McDonald finishing top two would be a major upset.

In CA-10 Jeff Denham is being challenged by astronaut Jose Hernandez, who strangely isn’t Indian-American. There is another Democrat in the race, Mike Barkley, as well as NPP candidates Chad Condit and Troy McComak. None of them has raised any money and Hernandez has the state party endorsement as well as national party support. The media has focused some attention on Condit, whose chief assets appear to be his decision not to run with either party and that he is the son of a disgraced congressman whose own party drew a congressional district for him to lose. Condit has raised virtually no money and hasn’t given anyone a reason to vote for him. I could see him getting in the high single digits, but he’ll finish nowhere near Hernandez or Denham. All three of these districts figure to be very competitive in November but they should be ho-hum June 5. It isn’t even worth it watching the returns.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How many seats will Democrats pick up in California?

You're reading it everywhere. The San Jose Mercury News reports Democrats could win 6 seats in California. KPCC has an expert predicting that it could be 5-6 seats. This is pretty much the media meme. But what are the odds? I have my evaluation, but I'll save it, since it could have a bias.

I'm going to take a look at three highly respected forecasters, Charlie Cook, Larry Sabato, and Stu Rothenberg. They've rated each race. I put a numerical percentage to each. A district that's "Likely Democratic" will go to the Democrats 80% of the time. A district that's "Lean Democratic" will do so 60% of the time. One that's a toss-up will go to each party half the time. You can repeat on the GOP side.

Once we know each party's chances of winning a seat, we can put them into a probability matrix. We get this chart:
As you can see the possibility of the Democrats gaining six seats barely registers. They are 43 to 1 to gain 5 seats. Even gaining 4 seats has less than a 10% chance of happening. In fact, the three forecasters average out to a 44.9% probability that the Democrats will take 2 or more seats. The chance of them taking less is 55.1%. That's not to say that the Republicans are likely to gain seats. It's less than 20%. The most likely outcome is Democrats gaining one seat.

As the data in the bottom of the chart shows,if Democrats win all the Democratic leaning and toss-up seats they top out at D+4. That's a nice gain. But that's only if Democrats win every toss-up district. Toss-ups are classified as such because the forecaster thinks the district could go either way. That's the opinion the forecasters are given. Each party will win an equal amount. If the Democrats were to win all of them, then the districts weren't toss-ups after all. At the very least they should lean to the Democrats. If the Democrats are going to be likely to win 3 or more seats the forecasters would move the forecasts toward them. That's not happening.

It's a long shot that the Democrats will pick up more than 3 seats in California this year. Long shots sometimes come in, but the odds are better that Republicans pick up at least one seat. If the Democrats can get a long shot, then the GOP can do the same. The results this year should be something around Democrats picking up one seat. That's better than now, but not the bonanza they need to win back the House.

Monday, May 14, 2012

California Primary Turn-out

General elections results have mirrored primary results in Washington state in the their two top 2 elections. I made the conclusion that California would be similar.

That may be wrong.

The vote
In the last three elections, 2006, 2008, and 2010, California Republican congressional primaries had higher turn-out than would be expected. If we take the Republican primary votes and the Democratic primary votes in competitive districts, we’d end up with a primary result of:

R - 57.6%
D – 42.1%
O – 0.3%

Yet when the same districts voted in the general election it was like this:

R – 51.8%
D – 45.4%
O – 2.8%

The 3rd party surge isn’t surprising. Independent voters rarely vote in primaries, especially if the primaries are closed for anyone outside the party. So the Republican vote goes down by 5.8%, while the Democratic vote goes up 3.3%. We should expect more independents to vote in this primary since their votes will count. That may change things, but it doesn’t change that the spread between Republicans and Democrats goes from 15.5% to 6.4%.

The California Secretary of State’s office keeps track of primary turn-out by party. Here it is for the last three elections:

D – 42.6%
R – 38.6%

That’s only a 4.0% difference. They don’t keep track of turn-out in November, but exit polls give us this:

D – 42.0%
R – 32.0%

While the numbers aren’t from the same source, the difference between party turn-out in June and November goes from D+4% to D+10. That’d explain Democrats better performance above.

I can’t pin on why this happened, as it happened in a good Democratic year and a good Republican year. It also happened when there were competitive statewide Republican races and when there weren’t any. I don’t have a why explanation, as it doesn’t happen throughout the country.

Will it happen again?
Since there are no situations that make it happen or not happen, there’s nothing to point to in 2012 that will let us know either way. Top Two is a different situation, one where we believe independents will show up in greater numbers. Democrats could show up for Top Two, but there’s nothing to tell us that the difference won’t be as close.

How will we know?
Since general election exit polls have mirrored registration in the past, we should consider that when the participation numbers are published. I don’t know when that’ll be. In the past any election where a Republican got 46%-54% was likely to competitive in November. If turn-out is similar, Republicans will only be competitive in districts where they get at least 50% of the two party vote.

CA-46: Last cycle's target

There's a congressional district out there that Republicans went hard after last cycle and it's moved 4 Brown-Whitman points more Republican. That sounds like an opportunity, doesn't it? The Brown-Whitman numbers are similar to those in CA-16, CA-31, CA-41, and CA-47, all districts Republicans think they could win.

Yet the GOP doesn't have CA-46 on the radar. Why? The opportunity Republicans felt they had last time fell flat. The Republican candidate lost by 14 points. The incumbent, Loretta Sanchez, runs good campaigns and she wins them. She'll survive anything. The GOP saw this and the candidates here are lackluster. Businessman Jerry Hayden is endorsed by the state party and has raised $55k through March 31. That's not much, but it's more than the "name on the ballot" guys. Here, those are fellow Republicans Pat Garcia and John Cullum.

Not only aren't the RNC and CAGOP interested in the race, but Orange County organizations like the Lincoln Club aren't either. They went hard after Sanchez the last time.

Loretta Sanchez doesn't coast and is one of the few California Democratic congressmen who've been in a fight. So it's hard to see this one developing into anything. That said, it's worth watching the June 5 just to be sure.

Friday, May 11, 2012

CA-31: Good for Dutton and Aguilar

Incumbent Republican congressman Gary Miller and Democratic Redlands mayor Pete Aguilar have been regarded as the favorites since the beginning. Republican state senator Bob Dutton and Democrat Justin Kim have just had to work harder. Both attended a recent Tea Party forum. There might not be many votes for Kim at such an event, but he got kudos for going and fighting for every vote.

Part of the uphill struggle is that Aguilar is now being backed by a SuperPac and finagled an endorsement from California senator Dianne Feinstein. Today the dominant paper in the area weighed in, giving their endorsement to Dutton, certainly a boost for his insurgent campaign. Because of Top Two they took the unusual step of endorsing a second candidate and gave that to Aguilar.

Clearly, Aguilar is the establishment pick. Kim is further in the hole due to nothing he or Aguilar have done. Still, no one knows what to expect from Top Two. Two candidates are likely to get 25-30% of the votes each and that's not a huge share. So this race is far from over.

CA-16: A Ball Dropped?

While Democrats had a disappointing recruitment in CA-21, the GOP had similar results just north of there in the new CA-16. This district mixed parts of the districts currently occupied by Democrats Dennis Cardoza, Jim Costa, as well as Republicans Jeff Denham and Devin Nunes. It's a district that leans Democratic, but Republican congressional candidates got 49.1% of the vote here in 2010.

Costa quickly chose this district, even though fellow Democrat Dennis Cardoza has more of it right now. Cardoza retired rather than face off against Costa.

Republicans tried to recruit former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson, but Patterson passed on the district. Fresno City Council Member Clint Olivier also passed on it. The Republican candidates are Brian Whelan, Johnny Tacherra, and Mark Garcia. Otherwise known as who, who, and who. While Whelan has made some progress fundraising none of them are on anyone's radar. The GOP is a real long shot in this district. No one is expecting much.

CA-21: A Rising Star

Republicans believe they have a rising star in David Valadao. He won a long shot assembly seat in a very Democratic district in 2010. Most of the district is in this congressional district. He was just named as part of the GOP Young Guns program.

Democrats thought they had a similar recruit in state senator Michael Rubio. When Rubio backed out, they tried to convince former state senator Dean Florez and former Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamonte. Neither committed. They finally settled on Fresno city councilman Blong Xiong, a Laos born Hmong. As expected Xiong has traveled the country to raise money from Hmong communities.

Unfortunately, the Hmong community and everyone else he represents on the Fresno city council is outside the congressional district. So is the city of Fresno. So none of his supporters can vote for him and he has to get votes in rural areas of Kings, Kern, Tulare and Fresno counties that are unfamiliar with him and possibly haven't any Hmong. This is an area where Hispanic/Portuguese candidates do well. Incumbent Democrat Jim Costa and Valadao are Portuguese.

Fellow Democrat John Hernandez, CEO of the Central Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, is also from Fresno. He's raised little money, but he's still earned the endorsement of

It's tough for me to see Democrats winning here. They don't have strong candidates and they haven't done very well in the rural Central Valley in the past. The ratings experts originally had this as a toss-up district, but Cook, Rothenberg, and Sabato.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Swalwell gets another endorsement

How can a 40 year incumbent Democrat who rarely strays from party line fail to get endorsement after endorsement in the San Francisco Bay area?

It's always nice to get a shout out

I have to say that when you do a blog and share your work on another site, you don't expect a lot. This isn't my living. This is something I started doing 3 years ago. I'm happy to have my work recognized by another analyst. I get the feeling that few people are analyzing congressional elections quite the way I am.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Arena: Will Democrats be able to retake the House in November?

That's arena's question for today. I find the answers amusing. To someone like Frederica Wilson the answer is obvious. Of course the Democrats will. Why would people vote Republican?

Let me say this. The Democrats have virtually no shot of winning the House. They have less than 1%. Let's look at the experts and how many seats they currently see as Likely/Safe Republican

Cook: 211
Rothenberg: 211
Sabato: 211

How is that for a consensus? If Republicans win their likely/safe seats, the Democrats have to almost sweep all the seats remaining. That's illogical. If they were going to win that many seats, more of them would be lean/likely Democratic. Here are the seats that lean each party:

Cook: 230R/181D
Rothenberg: 237R/185D
Sabato: 233R/188D

This isn't a knock on the Democrats. It's a compliment to Republicans. The states are so gerrymandered, it'll take a big wave for Democrats to win the House. If the Democrats had been gerrymandering they'd have a good shot.

I think the Democrats would need a D+8-10 to take it, if not more. In 2006 they had a D+10 or more, usually D+13-15. In 2004, it was D+6-9 early in the year but ended D+2-3. This cycle has been a toss-up with no poll being bigger than D+4. I can't imagine a scenario, even an Obama landslide, that's going to result in Democrats taking the House.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

CA-15: Chronicle endorses Swalwell

Things just keep getting worse for Pete, now don't they? The San Francisco Chronicle, the beacon of liberalism in America's most liberal city, has endorsed 31 year-old Eric Swalwell over Congressman Pete Stark. Swalwell is someone who was unknown that long ago. He has all the momentum on his side.

Pete Stark is a raving madman

Okay, that's not exactly news. We've seen it for years. Now he's accusing someone on the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board of donating to his Democratic opponent, Eric Swalwell. He accused the Chronicle's conservative columnist! Of course he had no proof. Being Pete Stark means you never have to worry about stupid things like that.

Normally he wouldn't have a lot to worry about. He could win a Democratic primary and knock off any Republican opponent. Now he's in a situation where his November race is almost certainly going to be against a fellow Democrat. CA-15 is 48.32% Democratic and 23.55% Republican. While that's not enough Republicans to help a Republican win, it is enough to significantly impact the race. Swalwell needs to win a good share of Democrats who feel that Stark is too old and an embarrassment and then snag most of the Republicans and independents. He won't even need to move right to sell Republicans. He just needs a mailer, "I'm not Pete Stark. Vote for me." That's a great pitch.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

DCCC plays funny with redistricting numbers

The Democrats are out with a memo that somehow Republicans didn’t win redistricting.
1) The overall playing field has remained the same 
Before the redistricting process, there were 60 seats nationwide that were controlled by Republicans that President Obama won in 2008, 14 of which were also won by Senator Kerry. Today, there are 64 new or Republican-held seats won by Obama in 2008, 18 of which were also won by Senator Kerry.
This is an interesting manipulation. There were, in fact, 62 Obama and 14 Kerry seats held by Republicans before redistricting and now there are 57 and 13. So how do they get 64 and 18? There are 7 new seats which Obama won. Eight of the eliminated seats belonged to Democrats. So it’s tough to call them all Republican held.

Both parties won as many seats as they lost in reapportionment. 
Of the 12 seats reapportioned in redistricting, seven (7) became more Democratic, four (4) became more Republican, and one (1) is now a toss-up. The seats lost had virtually the same make up, seven (7) were Democratic, three (3) were Republican, and two (2) were toss-ups. By any standard, reapportionment was a wash.
Democrats held 8 seats that were eliminated and Republicans held 4. I can only guess that they’re calling the two seats where a Democrat is running against a Republican, OH-16 and IA-3, as toss-ups.

I’m not sure how they’re putting apples to apples here. You could take four of the more Democratic seats eliminated and replace them with the four most Republican seats to get the best outlook. Among the new seats, there are 5 safe Republican seats, 2 safe Democratic seats, and 5 seats in play that lean Democratic. At worst, the GOP is +1 here.

3) Some of the seats that the GOP claims to have "made safer" or "taken out of play" were never "in play" in the first place. 
Much of the commentary about redistricting has centered on incumbents, but it’s important to put any such analysis in full context. For example, the Cook Political Report has a list of 19 Republicans it calls “big gainers” because their districts’ gained five (5) or more points through redistricting. But of those 19 “big gainers”, seven (7) already had a presidential voting index (PVI) advantage of five (5) points or more before redistricting. These seats were never in play to begin with.
This is true, but hardly something to celebrate. All 12 of those seats are out of play or the Democrats have a small chance of winning. In addition, there were two seats, AZ-4 and CO-4, which were R+5 but Democrats would’ve had a shot in. The McCain numbers inflated Republicans in AZ-4 and the Democrats held CO-4 before last cycle. If taking 14 vulnerable Republican seats off the table isn’t a great accomplishment, consider that there are another 8 that moved 4 points more McCain that are likely off the table too.

4) Republicans fail to factor in formerly GOP seats that became dramatically more Democratic, or new seats that favor Democrats.
There were undoubtedly some of those too. Republicans moved 22 of their competitive seats 4+ points more Republican, while another 16 Republican seats moved towards the Democrats. On the other hand, 9 Democrats were helped by 4+ and 16 were hurt. So the GOP netted 6 seats, while Democrats were a -7.

There are now 24 Republicans whose seats got more Democratic during redistricting – offsetting any Republican gains from "shoring up" their vulnerable incumbents. This includes seats like Elton Gallegly (CA-26), Gary Miller (CA-31), Judy Biggert (IL-11), Joe Walsh (IL-08), Roscoe Bartlett (MD-06), Chris Gibson (NY-19), Mike Coffman (CO-06), Robert Gibbs (OH-07), Steve King (IA-04), John Kline (MN-02), and others.
This is were the argument falls apart. There were 161 districts which were R+6 or better. Now there are 175. So that’s 14 districts off the table. There were 222 Republican leaning districts. There are now 236.

On the other side, the number of D+6 or better districts dropped 150 to 147. The number of Democratic leaning districts went from 204 to 192.

So before if everything broke evenly, you would’ve had a Republican advantage of 227 to 208. Now you’ll have a GOP edge of 240 to 195. The GOP will finish the 2012 election with 12 to 14 seats more than they would've had if there was no redistricting. So if people say now that the Democrats should gain 10-15 seats in the fall, you could add 12-14 to that to get what they should've won. Yup. Without redistricting Democrats would've had a decent chance of taking the majority. With it, their chances are slim.