Obama’s overall weekly job approval is at 41 percent, but it is concentrated heavily among African American adults. To put this in perspective, in Gallup’s October 1994 polling, President Clinton’s job approval was also at 41 percent. Yet his job approval was five points higher among whites (38 percent); his job approval among blacks had sunk to a still-healthy, but not otherworldly, 63 percent. You may say, “That’s only five points’ difference,” but it’s a good bet that Weprin wishes Obama’s approval rating had been about five points higher in New York’s 9th district.

This is important because the African American vote is unevenly distributed in our country. Although blacks make up 13 percent of the population according to census figures, African American voters tend to be packed into a few districts. This “packing” has indeed increased the number of African Americans in Congress, but it has come at the expense of having more districts where African American voters have little influence — about 90 percent of the districts in the nation have African American populations of less than 30 percent, a few points more than was the case in 1970 (despite a two-point increase in the African American share of the population).

Which brings us to NY-9.