July 19, 2005

Bloomberg looks set for another term as NY mayor

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Republican Mayor Michael
Bloomberg is so far ahead of his Democratic challengers that he
could be re-elected even if his own party members stayed home
on Election Day, a poll showed on Tuesday.

The first-term mayor leads each of the four Democrats in
the race for City Hall by as much as 15 points, and his
approval rating is as high as when he first took office, said
the survey by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Two-thirds of voters say they are satisfied with
Bloomberg's administration, the poll showed. And in a city
where Democrats outnumber Republicans five to one, Democrats
give him a 58-percent approval rating and Republicans approve
of him by 72 percent, it said.

"With the mayor's approval and the satisfaction rating this
high, any challenger would be hard-pressed to convince voters
it's time for a change," said Maurice Carroll, director of the
Polling Institute. "At this rate, New York City Republicans
could stay home on Election Day. The mayor could win this one
with Democrats and independent voters."

Although Bloomberg sowed discontent raising property taxes
early in his term, failed in a controversial bid to build a
professional football stadium in Manhattan and lost the race to
host the 2012 Olympics, he has done little to spur voters to
look elsewhere, experts say.


"He is perceived by New Yorkers as someone who has been
steady at the helm in times of global uncertainty and has been
fiscally prudent at a time when people are waiting perhaps for
the other shoe to drop in terms of the economy. It hasn't,"
said Lisa Linden, a public relations executive who formerly
handled political campaigns.

If Bloomberg wins a second four-year term on Nov. 8, the
city would have Republicans in the top job at City Hall for an
unprecedented 16 years. His predecessor, Rudolph Giuliani,
served from 1994 through 2001.

The Democrats -- former Bronx Borough President Fernando
Ferrer, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, City
Council Speaker Gifford Miller and U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner --
aren't doing much to help themselves, said Lee Miringoff of the
Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

"The mayor is a guy that people think is doing an OK job.
Barring any real sense of crisis in the city, OK wins out over
a pack of Democratic wannabes," Miringoff said. "There's no
real urge to change horses."

Meanwhile, the Democrats are struggling among themselves.
Ferrer has faced a backlash since he commented that the 1999
police shooting of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant,
was not a crime.

Fields has received negative media coverage over a campaign
photograph doctored to replace white faces with Asian faces.
Miller has made headlines over campaign-style mailings that
cost city taxpayers $1.6 million -- leading to accusations he
was using his office to promote his candidacy.

The stage is set not unlike four years ago, when infighting
among Democrats helped propel Bloomberg to his first public
office, albeit after the businessman spent some $74 million of
his own fortune on his campaign to defeat Mark J. Green by a
slim margin.

Bloomberg has already spent $23 million on this race.

But Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf warned the race is
far from over. After the Sept. 13 primary, voter support now
spread among the four Democrats could gel into support for the
primary's winner and set up a close race, he said.

"This is very much a Democratic city," he said. "Voters are
adjusting to Bloomberg, but they're still Democrats."

Ironically, Bloomberg was a lifelong Democrat until 2001.
He switched to the Republican Party at the start of his
campaign to run in the less crowded Republican field.

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,313 New York City registered voters
from July 12 to 17, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7
percentage points.