Steve M Cohen

Bill de Blasio and His Mandate

A Republican political veteran recently chided me for not knowing the results of the recent New York City election. He was responding to my passing mention that Bill de Blasio had won. According to this sage of the right, I was wrong; de Blasio came in third.

I was obviously perplexed by this statement. He then explained that Scott Stringer received 827,562 votes; Letitia James drew 814,878 and de Blasio’s total was 795,679.  So, accordingly, de Blasio had come in third.

That reasoning is obviously too cute.

It is absurd to suggest that the election results prove that Stringer and James are more popular than or had more support than de Blasio. Unlike Stringer and James, de Blasio was up against a well-funded opponent who ran a major media campaign and was backed by some powerful supporters. Neither Stringer nor James faced significant opposition in the general election. Moreover, it’s not accurate to say that de Blasio’s victory was anything but impressive. He was elected by a 3-to-1 margin—the largest margin of victory for any non-incumbent mayoral candidate in New York City history. There was no ambiguity about the preference of those who went to the polls, and there can be no question that de Blasio won by a landslide.

Yet still there is something interesting, even insightful, about the observation that Stringer and James outpolled de Blasio. And it raises some interesting questions about the nature of the much touted de Blasio mandate.

Here’s why.

Only 25 percent of registered voters came out to the polls—presumably the very core of the Democratic base plus new voters attracted by the de Blasio campaign. In real numbers, approximately 800,000 people voted for de Blasio.

I’m lousy at math. But what I think that means is that in a city of 8.3 million, where there are about 4.6 million registered voters, fewer than one in five registered voters made the effort to actually support our new mayor by going to the polls and pulling a lever for him. While there is no reason to believe that support for de Blasio is anything but strong—after all, it was a landslide—the nature of his victory hints at the possibility that his mandate is something less than robust and may be a little bit precarious.

I have no doubt that hardcore self-described progressive New York City Democrats as well as de Blasio loyalists will take issue with this view of the election. Voter apathy, a sense of inevitability, a primary that mandated the outcome of the general election, the weather, the cycles of the moon, a general malaise…no doubt all these things contributed (and always contribute) to low voter turnout. But it’s hard to simply ignore the fact thatonly one in five registered voters supported the new mayor by actually going to the polls. And it is equally important to remember that most voters believe our last mayor was successful and improved the city during his tenure.

This is not to say any of this suggests that de Blasio is not popular. Nor would I argue that the people of the city do not generally and sincerely support his vision, as of this moment. In fact, the first poll out of the gate, released on Jan. 16 by Quinnipiac University, shows that after two weeks on the job the mayor has an approval rating of 53–13, with 34 percent undecided. Without a doubt most New Yorkers are inclined to like the new mayor.

With that said, at least at this point, it would be misguided to believe that there is ineffable and unwavering support for this mayor. De Blasio has a solid core of supporters and is viewed favorably by most New Yorkers. And it is obvious that several of his proposals have been well received. But while it is clear that the city has embraced universal pre-K, it remains to be seen how universal the support of the mayor is, and whether he will be truly embraced by the city. Indeed, the task going forward have less to do with relying on a statistical mandate and more to do with building a governing coalition.

Steven M. Cohen served as secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He is currently a partner with the law firm Zuckerman Spaeder and the executive vice president and chief administrative officer of MacAndrews & Forbes.

NEXT STORY: A Choice, Not An Echo

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.