Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced his run for the White House (Photo: Kevin Case, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

New York City May­or Bill de Bla­sio just released a video declar­ing his inten­tion to wrest con­trol of the White House away from Don­ald Trump.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
May­or Bill de Bla­sio has announced his run for the White House (Pho­to: Kevin Case, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Look­ing at the video, it is easy to see why the may­or thinks he has a good shot at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nomination.

In the video, de Bla­sio high­lights his most pop­u­lar poli­cies (uni­ver­sal pre-kinder­garten for New York­ers and intro­duc­ing a $15 min­i­mum wage) and points out that his admin­is­tra­tion has tan­gled with Trump and beat­en him.

As he puts it: “I’ve beat­en him before and I’ll do it again.”

In a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty that has moved to the left in response to Trump’s poli­cies, hav­ing a record of pro­gres­sive pol­i­cy­mak­ing and (even more impor­tant­ly) beat­ing the White House in court over Trump’s key issue – immi­gra­tion – might seem like a recipe for attract­ing droves of moti­vat­ed voters.

But there are already dozens of oth­er Democ­rats — gov­er­nors, for­mer gov­er­nors, Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors, a for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent — seek­ing the party’s 2020 pres­i­den­tial nomination.

Although the may­or has imple­ment­ed some poli­cies that are pop­u­lar in New York City, his over­all record as a leader is mixed. Despite cam­paign­ing on the issue of home­less­ness, the num­ber of home­less peo­ple in New York has increased since he became may­or. Mean­while, New York City’s hous­ing depart­ment was so incom­pe­tent that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment had to take over much of it.

A homeless teen in New York
De Blasio’s admin­is­tra­tion has failed to keep cam­paign promis­es to help the home­less in New York City (Pho­to: Robert Sci­fo, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Many New York­ers see the may­or as uncon­nect­ed and dis­in­ter­est­ed in the needs of their city, and his actions often rein­force that perception.

He fre­quent­ly arrives late to impor­tant events, engages in pet­ty per­son­al vendet­tas with the state gov­er­nor and the media, and has left four­teen exec­u­tive-lev­el posi­tions in the city bureau­cra­cy unfilled for over a year.

He is so unpop­u­lar that Observ­er (a New York-based news site) head­line spec­u­lat­ed that his pres­i­den­tial run was mere­ly an excuse to get away from his con­stituents. Three quar­ters of New York­ers told a poll­ster that they didn’t want de Bla­sio to run. When MSNBC asked sub­way com­muters about his cam­paign launch, answers includ­ed, “he needs help, seri­ous­ly,” and “are you kidding?”

Out­side his city, de Blasio’s cause is not far­ing much bet­ter. In New York State, the May­or came dead last in a poll of Demo­c­ra­t­ic candidates.

He is also get­ting nowhere in the cru­cial ear­ly states of Iowa and New Hamp­shire. He cur­rent­ly polls between 0% and 1% among Democ­rats nation­al­ly. He would need the stars to align in his favor to even con­tend for the nomination.

How­ev­er, he is far from the only can­di­date that can be said about.

A recent poll by Morn­ing Con­sult showed that there are four­teen can­di­dates cur­rent­ly run­ning who polled at 1% or less among Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers, and that poll didn’t include all the can­di­dates cur­rent­ly running!

The pri­ma­ry start­ed out as the most diverse field of can­di­dates ever, but since the start of Feb­ru­ary the field has almost dou­bled in size, and it’s not so diverse any­more. Two of the can­di­dates – Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden – are the cur­rent fron­trun­ners and have plen­ty of name recog­ni­tion. How­ev­er, most of the new entries are described by Vox as an “epi­dem­ic of ran­dom white men,” none of whom have made sig­nif­i­cant inroads in polling.

The recent influx of straight white guys into the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry has exposed a seri­ous prob­lem in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and with our mass media in par­tic­u­lar. While can­di­dates of col­or, women and America’s first open­ly gay per­son to run for the pres­i­den­cy have been strug­gling for months to cast them­selves as legit­i­mate, white men exhib­it “a cer­tain type of priv­i­lege in… think­ing they can just drop into the race at the last minute,” to quote FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Sil­ver.

This priv­i­lege has been proven by stud­ies – men are far less cau­tious about run­ning for office than women, while women weigh the risks more and wait until they have more experience.

Bill de Bla­sio might be the epit­o­me of this phe­nom­e­non. He believes he has a shot at the nom­i­na­tion when there is no evi­dence to sug­gest he can mount a cred­i­ble can­di­da­cy in a crowd­ed field, and he believes he can run the entire coun­try when many peo­ple think he could be doing a much bet­ter job run­ning New York City.

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