A year into his first term, there were some scary numbers for the mayor – just 31 percent of New Yorkers approved of his job, with a large racial split dividing those who liked him from those who didn't.
Luckily for Bill de Blasio, I'm writing about Michael Bloomberg – whose second year in office proved to be his political nadir. After ramming through a property tax hike, passing a smoking ban, and waging a fight to close several fire companies, Bloomberg saw his approval numbers plunge to just 24 percent in June of 2003.
Things obviously got better for the first-term Bloomberg, who won two more elections and never looked back from a very rough time. As things started to improve for him politically in 2004, The New York Times' Winnie Hu noted that there was a racial gap in Bloomberg's approval numbers with 56 percent of whites giving Bloomberg a thumbs up but only 38 percent of blacks approved.
That's why taking another look at the current mayor's poll numbers is so interesting. He's in remarkably better shape than Bloomberg was after Year One – with a 52 percent approval figure. But he's experiencing the reverse problem of his predecessor. While a whopping 70 percent of blacks approve of de Blasio, the number bottoms out at just 32 percent for whites.
If anything, these numbers show that it's extremely hard in New York to please all of the people all of the time when you're mayor. Black and Latino voters – who are solidly in de Blasio's corner – are the bedrock of any Democratic primary, meaning it would only be a well-financed independent or Republican candidate who could threaten him in a general election.
But three years is an eternity from now. De Blasio has plenty of time to work on building his numbers outside of his African-American and Latino base. But where he stands after Year One is a problem that no white mayor has had since John Lindsay – and a reflection of a new political reality in the city as a new year looms.