Harry Bruinius, Christian Science Monitor, November 19, 2014
It’s been a tumultuous week for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the liberal firebrand who swept into office this year with the promise to show what an über-progressive chief executive could do once in charge.
Under the glare of the nation’s largest city–and media grand central–Mayor de Blasio’s ambitions included reforming a police department known for its effective if controversially aggressive street tactics, as well as addressing the city’s growing economic divides.
But while a new poll this week shows the mayor’s still-strong overall support holding steady, it also revealed that support from whites have waned, even as support from blacks and Latinos continues to grow.
Over 70 percent of black voters approve of the job de Blasio is doing–up from 65 percent three months ago, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday. The mayor’s Latino support remained steady with a 56 percent approving of his job, one point higher than its poll in August.
De Blasio’s support among whites, however, has slipped to 34 percent, while half of those polled disapproved of his performance. In August, 41 percent of whites had approved the job the mayor was doing, and 42 percent disapproved.
“It’s a tale of two cities under New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio,” said Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, in a statement Tuesday. “Black voters think the mayor is terrific. White voters don’t approve. And the racial gap gets wider every time we ask.”
And this week, the de Blasio administration has seen this racial dynamic play out in especially acrimonious terms–even as the NYPD on Monday released crime figures that should have been a triumph for the mayor, showing that overall crime in the city has fallen to its lowest point in 20 years–and the lowest since the NYPD began using its vaunted CompStat tracking system.
Yet instead of ballyhooing these essential statistics this week, the mayor was bitterly denouncing the forced leave of absence taken by one of his closest and most trusted aides, and accusing the city’s tabloids of “character assassination” and “McCarthyism.”
Rachel Noerdlinger, the black chief of staff for the mayor’s politically-active wife, who is also black, announced she would leave the administration after her 17-year-old son was busted for trespassing in an uptown apartment building as he loitered in a lobby with friends.