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.

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