NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio enters the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential field

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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