You know the mouth-breathing Deliverance characters who consider their fellow Americans “sheeple” because they like Obama, don’t churn their own butter and will not die for the gold standard? Sometimes we feel like those guys. A new poll shows that while 60 percent of New Yorkers approve of Mayor Bloomberg’s job performance, he has only a 48 percent approval rating and 55 percent think someone else should be elected mayor.
Being haters, we explain it thus: when people are asked to judge Bloomberg, it’s like when they’re invited to give their boss a “performance review”: they don’t really believe it has any effect on their boss’ career, but they worry that giving him a negative assessment might have a negative effect on theirs. So they go along the received wisdom that, despite our city’s imminent collapse, Bloomberg’s doing a good job, and when asked what exactly he’s done that’s so great, they stammer confusedly and spread their votes among several categories (e.g., “Controls spending/handling of finances 6%, Handles government like a business 4%, Anti-smoking law 2%…”), as if most of them thought a long while about it and, tiring of the effort, chose the first thing they remembered was associated with Bloomberg (leading vote-getters after “Don’t Know” and “No Answer”: Crime/safety and Education, 8% each).
These responses clearly show that New Yorkers are frightened of losing their jobs, and while Bloomberg is not their immediate superior, he has beaten into them the notion that only his superior Wall Street experience stands between them and total disaster, and so in their learned helplessness they profess that he is Doing a Good Job. Nonetheless when given an out — asked if “it’s time to give a new person a chance,” which isn’t exactly like criticism of Bloomberg because it isn’t actually negative, so they’ll be able to defend themselves if he finds out and gets mad — most of them say they wish to be rid of him.
Update. On the other hand, Azi Paybarah makes a very good point about this “Poll That Means Less If Bloomberg Is Running Against an Actual Person.”