Blooming good news for mayor
Polls & spirits on rise
Mayor Bloomberg was much more relaxed than normal last week when he was asked about the latest public poll surveying his reelection chances.
"Obviously when polls go up you have a bigger smile on your face [than] when they go down," he told reporters who asked about a Marist College Institute survey showing him with a sudden, commanding lead over most of the Democrats.
It was the best news in awhile for Bloomberg, whose poll numbers had been suffering from the albatross around his neck - the West Side stadium.
But in the last four weeks, the crescendo of stadium news has died down while the mayor's poll numbers have moved up, bringing him a quiet satisfaction.
"It's a superb poll for the mayor," said Doug Muzzio, a professor at Baruch College's Center for Innovation and Leadership in Government.
"This is a snapshot at this point and it's likely to fluctuate," Muzzio said. "But he's turned a bend and he hasn't even started spending [much] money."
Bloomberg's rivals - led by Democrat Fernando Ferrer - have been unable to gain any real traction.
"What's changed is Freddy," a Bloomberg insider said. But the source also credited the diminished stadium coverage, and suggested that the mayor simply is doing better.
Ferrer's troubles grew in March after he said the police shooting of Amadou Diallo wasn't a crime and that there were attempts to "overindict" in the case. Ferrer's rivals also pounced on him after he made an unpopular proposal to tax stock transfers.
The headlines, several observers said, appear to have refocused voters' attention on the candidates - and fostered a notion that perhaps the incumbent is the best candidate.
Lee Miringoff, a Marist College pollster, described it as voters being pushed to "reevaluate the field."
In the Marist survey released last Wednesday, Bloomberg's numbers are up from a poll taken a month before.
The change is most pronounced among black voters, who fled from Ferrer in droves as the Diallo flap played out over several weeks.
In March, in a head-to-head contest with Ferrer, Bloomberg had just 24% of black voters polled, compared with 66% for Ferrer. Now Ferrer leads 45% to 44%.
Latino voters, Ferrer's core base of support, also left him in the latest poll. Bloomberg, who has courted Hispanics since his 2001 campaign, was trailing 63% to 31% in March.
Last week, Bloomberg narrowed the gap to 49% to 43%.
Ferrer's defectors seemed to be going to Bloomberg and Manhattan Borough President Virginia Fields, a Democrat and the only black candidate in the race.
Experts suggested Bloomberg's rising margin over his rivals could have its drawbacks.
"While on the one hand, it's obviously better to be ahead than behind, there are some negatives, in that, when the inevitable drop happens, people will think it's more important than it is," said political consultant Jerry Skurnick.
"I would think if I were the Bloomberg people, I'd be perfectly happy to be running even with the Democrats until Election Day."
Besides, Skurnick added, it's awfully early in the race for anyone to do victory dances.
"Will [these numbers] last? I don't know," he said. "Who knows if [Diallo and the stadium] are going to be important issues in November?"
©Copyright WestSideStadium.org, 2004