Once again (see comment about CA above), a party's excess PVI in a district is (PVI-15) where a party has a PVI of more than +15 in a district.
Illinois' Dem Congressional districts have excess PVI of +84, which is DOUBLE the total GOP PVI of +42. Obviously a lot of the excess PVI is up around Chicago, and the GOP-leaning districts are downstate, but in theory, you could use the excess Dem PVI to turn all those GOP-leaning districts into D+4 districts, without putting any Dems at risk of losing their seats.
Speaking as an insider (not that any of this is secret), the Census isn't doing anything this time that could be used to correct an undercount in this manner, and already has its hands full with problems such as those with the handheld devices it was going to use in the nonresponse followup part of the Census.
At this point, it's totally unrealistic to expect any significant operational changes or add-ons to the 2010 Census. (Including that otherwise sensible idea about having the Census register voters. Sorry.) They'll have their hands full just doing what they're supposed to do as of now.
This Wikipedia page gives the (pre-election) PVIs of all the Congressional districts, so it's a useful tool, and should be even more so once it's updated.
California's an instructive example of what could be done. Districts with a PVI of +10 or more are pretty safe, and once you get past +15, you're all but immune from challenges.
So let's define the 'excess PVI' of a district as (PVI-15) if it's got a PVI > 15, and zero otherwise. That's a crude measure of how many votes of one side or the other are being wasted on ultra-safe districts.
We can break that into excess Dem PVI and excess GOP PVI in the manner you'd expect: if it's >D+15, it's excess Dem, and if it's >R+15, it's excess GOP.
In California, the sum of the excess Dem PVI is +170. The sum of the excess GOP PVI is +1. We're wasting a lot of PVI, and they're not.
What makes it even more crazy is that the sum of all the GOP PVI in California - excess or not! - is only +163. In other words, there's enough excess Dem PVI in California to redistrict so that there are NO GOP-leaning districts in the state, without putting a single Dem at greater risk of losing.
We could keep every Dem in a district with PVI < D+15 in a district with the same PVI, and turn every R-leaning district into a neutral district by reducing the PVI on ultra-safe Dem districts down to D+15.
I haven't been paying attention to the House side this year, unlike the last 2 cycles. But I think you've got the right idea, and I'm ready and willing to make some online contributions if some good recommendations come down.
Campaigning, as Bush might say, is hard work, and even a much younger person might get a bit worn out over time.
But by all accounts, the Presidency isn't much easier. Whether it's the toll of the Presidential campaign that has made him less lucid, or other health factors that have done so (and I agree that he IS distinctly less clear and lucid than he was two years ago), then he's just not healthy enough to be President.
And putting a ditzy, sexy babe in the Oval Office might be a funny movie premise, but it would be pretty awful in real life.
"The Sunday before the election the dam burst," Zogby said of the 1980 tilt. "That's when voters determined they were comfortable with Reagan."
And that showed up in the polls, too - as far as anyone knew on Nov. 1, 1980, the election was going to come down to turnout.
Maybe there's another dam waiting to be burst that would turn this election into a popular-vote landslide, but Obama's already got the sort of edge in the polls that Reagan didn't have until a day or two before the 1980 election.
I was rating the various pollsters for awhile during primary season. One of the surprises was just how badly M-D sucked. (I don't have my notes handy, but it wasn't just SC.)
I'd be suspicious of this one anyway, since this is the first poll of NM in eons that's shown Obama behind in that state. But that, combined with the unusual closeness of AZ, plus my lingering doubts about them from primary season, add up to: wait for confirmation.
One thing to remember is that even Barry Goldwater managed to win AZ as his home state, when he was losing the entire rest of the country outside of the Deep South. It's hard to see McCain doing worse in AZ in 2008 than Barry did in 1964.
You've heard about the guy proposing that everyone at the Dem Convention next week be given nine keyrings with keys on them, supposedly the keys to McCain's houses. Not a half bad idea, actually.
Another one: assuming it's possible to buy a shitload of Monopoly houses (think of the fat guy buying marbles at the end of Animal House), we scatter tons of them on the ground wherever McCain is due to show up, starting with the approaches to the GOP Convention next week in Minneapolis.