In March, Monmouth University polled likely Democratic primary voters nationally about a few people who had announced their candidacies or seemed likely to do so. Among the people included in that poll was New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. He’s not yet a candidate, but news reports Friday indicated that he will announce a formal candidacy soon.
As is often the case in favorability polls of Democrats, former vice president Joe Biden had the strongest ratings, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). De Blasio was a standout, too: He had a higher unfavorability rating than any of the other possible candidates who were mentioned. And he was the only one whose net favorability (favorability minus unfavorability) was a negative number.
There was a pattern to the results. Candidates who were better known generally had better net favorability. But that relatively well-defined correlation between public familiarity and net popularity was broken by de Blasio’s clunky minus-6 net favorability.
So, that’s not good.
In March, there were two polls evaluating de Blasio’s popularity in his home state. Generally, one would expect a viable presidential candidate to have relatively decent favorability numbers on his home turf. But de Blasio’s favorability numbers were spotty in New York state, even among Democrats. Among residents of New York City, both polls had de Blasio with a net-negative favorability.
Those New York City numbers included Republicans. A separate Quinnipiac University poll focused solely on New York City had one bit of good news for the mayor: Even though New Yorkers were mixed on his job performance, at least Democrats generally approve of the job he’s doing. It’s worth pointing out, though, that a third of the city’s Democrats don’t think he’s very good at being mayor.
Perhaps it’s not a surprise, then, to learn that most New Yorkers, including most Democrats, don’t think he should run for president.
A plurality of Democrats even said that his running for president would be bad for the city.
The question that’s fair to ask here is: What’s the pitch? What does de Blasio bring to the 21-person field that is lacking?
If he is running so that New Yorkers have a candidate, they already do: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), who represents the city (and the rest of the state). If he’s running to advocate for progressive issues, so are a number of other candidates, including Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). If he wants to offer the executive experience of running a big city, well, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) used to be the mayor of Newark, which isn’t tiny. (It’s more than twice the size of South Bend, Ind., home of Mayor Pete Buttigieg.)
If he wants to emulate Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Tex.) 2016 campaign, surging from broad unpopularity to second place, we might have something to work with.