What’s the Spread in Mike v. Freddy?


The Tet offensive, United States v. Nixon, Iran-Contra, Monica Lewinski . . . such are the kinds of trials that befall chief executives who enjoy easy, overwhelming re-election. It happens on the metro beat, too, with mayors who—even if untouched by scandal—limp through the end of their time in office, like Jimmy Walker, William O’Dwyer, John Lindsay, and pre-9-11 Rudy Giuliani. Hopefully, probably, Mike Bloomberg will avoid that fate.

But wait! He hasn’t actually won a second term yet! But you wouldn’t know that from reading the papers this weekend. Everyone seems to be in agreement—as many have said since March or earlier—that the question now isn’t whether Mayor Mike will prevail but by how much. First there was the declaration on the cover of Saturday’s Post that, “It’s over.” Then The Times on Sunday crystal balled the Democrats’ hopes in 2009 and beyond. And Michael Goodwin of the Daily News decided no Dem could have beaten Bloomberg, even if Bloomberg didn’t spend $66 million (So why’d he spend $66 million, then? I mean, he’s a businessman, right?). Joe Mercurio, the veteran consultant who was with Virginia Fields for part of this campaign, sent around a message stating the record that Bloomberg might beat on Tuesday: the largest margin of victory by a Republican mayor (LaGuardia’s 1937 victory was by 454,000 votes and more than 19 percent).

Of course, Ferrer still says he can win, and theoretically he can. There’s no way the mayor will win by the 34-point spread the polls give him, and declarations like the Post‘s only complicate the Bloomberg campaign’s task of getting voters out to support a man who seems destined to win without breaking a sweat. Still, for Ferrer to prevail would take an upset of unprecedented proportions.

Given that, it’s no surprise that the candidates are treating these last 48 hours very differently. Ferrer and Bloomberg’s public schedules are released to the press on the understanding that we aren’t supposed to publish them, but speaking broadly, Bloomberg has 11 events scheduled for Monday to Ferrer’s four. The mayor is slated to start the day five minutes earlier than Freddy, and hizzoner’s final event is more than five hours later than his challenger’s. That doesn’t mean Ferrer is slacking-off around the final turn—during the lulls in the public schedule he’s likely to be hitting radio shows pretty hard—but it illustrates the very different playing field each man faces. Ferrer has to target as many voters as he can by using the airwaves and appearing at major commuter hubs, and he has to stay flexible. Bloomberg, meanwhile, can afford to take something of a victory tour, thanking volunteers, having fun, and picking a few key districts where his people think he can wring out a few more votes. And why not? He’s got the time, and (yeah) the money.