Obama job approval tends to lag in districts and states with seriously contested 2010 races 

In the Weekly Standard Jonathan Last has an excellent numbers piece with important implications for the upcoming congressional elections. Last points out that even as Barack Obama’s job approval has fallen, farther and more rapidly than most people anticipated, from its Inauguration week high, his job approval in the Gallup poll among black Americans has gone up—to over 90% recently—and that it has never fallen back below its Inauguration week 86%. The trend among black voters has been similar in Rasmussen polls.

But, as Last points out, black voters are not evenly spread around the nation’s 435 congressional districts. Only 132 districts have populations that are 12% black or more, the national average. In 303 districts the black percentage is below the national average. The median black percentage in a congressional district is 6.4%; 177 districts have black percentages of 5% or lower. The upshot:

If you’re looking for data that suggest a larger wave in November than you might otherwise expect, here it is. Obama’s national job approval numbers are low, but not yet seen as catastrophic. Yet in a great many districts—and particularly swing districts—they may actually be closer to President Bush’s 2006 number than otherwise appears. Bush still had 40 percent approval in November 2006.

The same argument applies, to a lesser extent, in Senate contests. Here is the percentage identifying themselves as black alone by race in the 2000 Census for states in which there are likely to be seriously contested Senate races.

Democratic-held seats: Arkansas (16%), California (7%), Colorado (4%), Delaware (19%), Illinois (15%), Indiana (8%), Nevada (7%), New York (16%), North Dakota (1%), Pennsylvania (10%), Washington (3%), Wisconsin (6%).

Republican held seats: Florida (14%), Kentucky (7%), Missouri (11%), New Hampshire (1%), Ohio (11%).

The black percentage is 16% or more in only three of the 12 states with Democratic-held seats and in none of the five states with Republican-held seats. It is 8% or less in seven of the 12 states with Democratic-held seats and in two of the five Republican-held seats.

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