While supporters—and a compliant press—like to highlight the size of Bill de Blasio’s election victory in New York’s mayoral race in 2013 (at 73%), they often forget that turnout was a record low of 24%. De Blasio was elected with the support of about 18% of the city’s registered voters—less than 10% of the total population of the city.It’s with this kind of background that you should keep in mind when parsing pieces like this one in Politico, which tries to puzzle out “what went wrong”:
Just over a year after sailing into office with 72 percent of the vote on a message of transformational change, de Blasio found his mayoralty subsumed by a torrent of anger, unleashed by the murder of two police officers in Brooklyn Saturday by a troubled gunman who said he was killing “pigs” to avenge the deaths of two men by cops in Staten Island and Ferguson, Missouri. By Monday, de Blasio was lashing out at the press corps that covers him, trying to paper over public divisions with his own police commissioner and coping with what friends described as the emotional blow of facing public rejection by many in the nation’s biggest police force. “He’s pretty badly shaken” by the murders, one told us.That a civic tragedy would so quickly devolve into a full-blown political crisis for the new mayor was testament to the vehemence of anti-de Blasio elements in the police union – and the mayor’s mistaken belief that his 2013 victory gave him the right to shred an old Gotham political playbook that dictated a mayor show deference to the NYPD.
If de Blasio ever had a mandate, it was a mandate for caution, not a mandate for sweeping change. It was a mandate to build your support through some incremental changes so that you’ll have a more solid backing in a second term. But de Blasio and the excited progressives around him read it differently.A lot of the media wants to frame this police slaying as a story of a white minority vs. a non-white majority. Given that one of the two slain cops was hispanic and the other was Asian-American, it isn’t at all clear that the “color coalition” is as solid or as deep as progressives would like it to be. And law and order remains a serious concern in many of the city’s immigrant communities.De Blasio is probably in deeper trouble than much of the mainstream media realizes. His mandate is weaker and his coalition more fissile than progressive journalists enchanted with the new progressive/majority-minority mantra can grasp. If law and order grows as an issue in New York, de Blasio will have more to worry about than the hostility of the police union.