Rise Of The Anti-Bloomberg

by Chas Danner


A new poll shows Bill De Blasio, a former underdog in the New York mayoral race, now leading by a comfortable margin. Marc Tracy notes how de Blasio’s focus on inequality and his rejection of the Bloomberg era has resonated with the same white liberals who once supported Bloomberg en masse:

The [old] Bloomberg pitch—laissez-faire stewardship of the money-making tax base, technocratic management, and liberal social programs—made sense for its era … [but d]uring the recovery from the 2008-9 recession, the benefits have overwhelmingly accrued to the wealthiest both nationwide and, especially, in the city that is the country’s financial center. …

“It was clear from our research,” said [Anna] Greenberg, de Blasio’s pollster, “that high income voters are as uncomfortable as low income voters about the stark inequality that has emerged in New York City in the Bloomberg years.” She told me: “Even New Yorkers who are doing quite well, and approve of the mayor’s agenda on things like bike lanes and sustainability, want to see a new direction centered around economic fairness and equality.” In 2013, the pocketbook is something that unites, instead of divides, the creative class and the working class.

Tracy suggests that NYC may prove a bellwether for the nation in this regard:

“New York, by its very nature, sets the tone for a class that exists nationwide,” [Chapman University Professor of Urban Development Joel] Kotkin explained. Its economics and politics, like its culture, are a potent distillation of trends present throughout the country. Across the land, this recovery has been unequal. Earlier this year, for instance, Pew Research examined U.S. Census data to 2011 and found that the top seven percent saw their net worth rise 28 percent since the recession while the bottom 93 percent (including households worth over $800,000) saw theirs decline. Not only in New York are the rich getting richer while everyone else goes in the other direction.

Relatedly, Rich Yeselson points out how the New York Times’ rejection of de Blasio may have backfired:

The long awaited endorsement by the Gray Lady, which some analysts thought would be decisive, went to [former frontrunner Christine] Quinn. The Times editorial page haughtily smacked down de Blasio’s scruffy campaign, labeling it dependent upon “legislative long shots” and attached its High Church liberalism to Quinn. Quinn was already seen as the favorite candidate of the increasingly unpopular Bloomberg, and the quintessential establishment imprimatur of the Times trapped her in the billionaire’s embrace. Indeed, the first poll post endorsement showed de Blasio expanding his lead. Because de Blasio has branded himself as the anti-Bloomberg, he likely gained more from the Times’ selection of Quinn than she did.