The latest Bloomberg mailer is the total package of white ethnic appeal. On the cover, in ghastly 8.5 x 11 scale, is a beaming Rudy Giuliani, American flag lapel pin and all, telling folks, “Now is not the time to change direction.” Inside, we see photos of Rudy and Mayor Bloomberg wearin’ the green and clutching a cute Irish kid, the mayor strolling alongside Polish hero Lech Walesa, and hizzoner walking next to an Italian-flag-holding former Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr. And the issues highlighted actually make the mayor sound like a Republican, including “Tough Anti-Crime Measures,” “Smaller Government,” and “Fewer People on Welfare.”
For good and ill, Bloomberg’s commanding lead in the polls has pushed race to the sidelines of New York City’s 2005 campaign. When The New York Times reported this weekend that Republicans planned to send 1,000 fraud watchers to polling places, and Fernando Ferrer’s campaign asked the Justice Department to send voting rights monitors, the mayor’s campaign responded confidently that it won’t suppress minority votes because “those are votes we are likely to win.”
Maybe. But while the polls suggest Bloomberg is doing remarkably well among blacks and Latinos, they also reflect stark differences between the races. In the latest Quinnipiac Poll, Bloomberg held a slim lead among blacks (48 to 44 percent) and Ferrer maintained a slight edge among Latinos (48 to 43 percent). But there is no contest among whites: Bloomberg has almost a four-to-one advantage there. And when it comes to some of the basic questions in the race, the races are divided. Most blacks and Latinos feel the mayor’s wealth gives him an unfair advantage, but 56 percent of whites do not. And while 71 percent of blacks and 66 percent of Latinos agree with Ferrer that there are “two New Yorks,” whites are split on the issue 48-48.
Bloomberg looks close to assembling a historically diverse coalition to win a second term, a remarkable accomplishment in a city that is mostly Democratic and incredibly race-aware. But the apparent near unanimity among white people—and the Bloomberg campaign’s efforts to get out their votes—are also part of the story.