New Yorkers' Rebuke of Bloomberg Sends a Message

What last night's surprisingly slim margin means for Bloomberg, and for New York

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New York City's mayoral elections delivered the expected outcome, but at shockingly slim margins. Democratic challenger Bill Thompson almost staged an upset against well-funded incumbent Mike Bloomberg. Bloomberg, who spent over $90 million of his own money on his campaign, was widely expected to demolish Thompson but squeaked to victory with a paltry 5 point margin. Thompson won 46 percent of the vote on a platform of channeling working class anger. Pundits say that while voters affirmed Bloomberg's capable management of the city, they did so begrudgingly. Here's what it all means:

  • Billionaire Mayor Must Deliver For Average New Yorkers  The New York Daily News says the election results show it's time for Bloomberg to focus on the interests of working and middle class New Yorkers. "The billionaire who disdains special interests stands beholden to average folks. He must deliver a higher quality of life and a more moderate cost of living for those who ratified his term limits extension and those who couldn't abide the change."
  • Bloomberg Must Maintain City Services  The New York Post says "Mike needs to start work today on the one issue that'll define his legacy: preserving Gotham's basic services and quality of life in the face of potentially crippling state and city budget crises."
  • Keep the Arrogance to a Minimum  David Chen and Michael Barbaro of The New York Times found the city's residents less than thrilled with Bloomberg for lobbying to change term limits so he could run for a third term. And they didn't want the mayor to think that he could buy their vote, either. 
Even those who backed the mayor seemed to do so reluctantly. Stav Brinbaum, 37, a Web producer from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, described his own vote for the mayor as 'unfortunate.' 'I feel he bought himself the election,' Mr. Brinbaum said, and 'ran a smear campaign against a nonexistent opponent.' But, he added, 'He’s doing a really good job.'
  • Nothing Post-Racial About New York Just Yet  In The New York Times, Michael Powell and Julie Bosman noted that whites and those making over $200,000 a year were most likely to support the mayor. Bloomberg, they wrote, just isn't connecting with the city's minority boroughs and poorer neighborhoods. "For all the talk of a post-racial, post-class city, Mr. Bloomberg gained a third term heavily dependent on the votes of white, middle-class and wealthy voters." 
  • Obama Dropped the Ball  Adam K. Raymond of New York Magazine says Thompson's numbers proved he might have won with a little more help from the White House. "What if President Obama had really campaigned for him? We'll never know."
  • Look For a High-Profile Democrat To Run In 2013  Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight says that while most New Yorkers "are perfectly satisfied with Bloomberg's job performance," it's likely that there will be "a high profile Democrat, perhaps someone from the Congress, running for this seat in 2013." 
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.