Mayoral Election Race 2005.

Here is my analysis of how I think Mayor Mike Bloomberg won the 2005 mayoral race:

In 2005, incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg had reached election time for a second term as mayor of New York City and ran as a Republican as he did before.  His opponent was Fernando Ferrer, who ran as a Democrat.  The race was carried out like any other with campaign advertisements smearing one another, a television debate, and other strategies for victory.  If Fernando Ferrer won, he would be one of the first Hispanic mayors in New York history (nyc.gov).  However, this was not the case, due to the fact that his opponent was Michael Bloomberg.  Bloomberg is a billionaire with his own media enterprise, including Bloomberg Radio. In the end, Mayor Bloomberg won with 59% of the vote (wcbstv.com).  How did Mayor Bloomberg win this election and what factors led to his victory?  Also, why was this election so important?

The most notable factor in this election was the fact that Mayor Bloomberg was a billionaire, due to the fact that he runs an enormous media enterprise.  In other words, he had more than enough hard money than Fernando Ferrer to build his campaign.  Fernando Ferrer had to rely on small contributions for his campaign.  Why would this be important?  More money in a campaign means better access to resources such as the media.  However, having money was not the important factor to Bloomberg’s campaign strategy.  It was how he used it that counted.  At the beginning of his campaign, he released advertisements aimed against his opponent (citymayors.com).  Bloomberg knew that media attention was not enough and made generous donations to various organizations, especially the public school system (nyc.gov).  He knew that if he was fighting for more money to public schools, a huge donation would show the public he was “putting his money where his mouth was.”  He also must have known that this was one of the most important issues to voters, because according to the Pace University Poll, 25% of voters considered schools and education the most important issue on voting for the mayor (appserv.pace.edu).

While the mayor’s money was an important factor in his campaign, it would not have been important if he was not able to bring attention to his campaign.  This second important factor was the media.  Now, this was a unique aspect of the race.  Usually, media is one of the most difficult resources of a campaign to attain.  Just to be able to get a thirty second sound byte can run a candidate millions of dollars.  For Mayor Bloomberg, however, gaining media as a resource was no problem, because he owns his own media enterprise.  He has his own show on Bloomberg radio and could use the radio station to advertise for his own campaign.  In reality, the media was the beginning step in the mayor’s campaign story, because he first ran advertisements against his opponent Fernando Ferrer (citymayors.com).  Then there was a middle, which consisted of press releases through the Mayor’s office to give him a kinder and a more “New Yorker” image (nyc.gov).  The media was also important when it came to the climax of the race through the televised debate (gothamgazette.com).

Also, there is the fact that he is an incumbent and that he is used to having lots of media attention.  One example of this is that in addition to advertisements, Mayor Bloomberg’s office also puts out press releases of him doing charitable works. The press releases were the middle part of the Mayor’s campaign story. The press release on the Discussion Board shows Mayor Bloomberg taking part in a community activity on the Harlem piers (nyc.gov).  This kind of press coverage showed that Mayor Bloomberg knows how to reach out to New Yorkers and to be a part of their community.  This factor also played an important part in the climax of this campaign, which was the televised debate between Fernando Ferrer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  According to the transcript on gothamgazette.com, Mayor Bloomberg made Fernando Ferrer look like a weak complainer and himself as a strong leader just by the way he answered the questions (gothamgazette.com).  This debate is a haunting reminder of the Bush and Kerry presidential debate.  During the debate, Kerry was wishy- washy with his answers, but Bush was the only one to give a straight answer.  Just like Kerry, Ferrer was trying to give an answer that New Yorkers wanted to hear, but Mayor Bloomberg told Ferrer that was not enough and that a true leader does not worry about complaining, but actually does something to solve the problem.

One of the most important factors in this election was the voters.  New York is a very diverse city; a literal melting pot.  According to a New York Times article by Sam Roberts named, The 2005 Elections: The Voters; Mayor Crossed Ethnic Barriers for Big Victory, Mayor Bloomberg was able to rally huge support from African American and Latino voters, who normally vote Democratic (Roberts, 1).  According to the Pace University Poll, 71% of the voters were registered Democrats (appserv.pace.edu).  However, according to cbstv.com and the Pace University Poll, about 77% of African Americans were satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the mayor’s job in his previous term and 58% of Latinos also answered the same way (appserv.pace.edu).  One reason could be due to the fact that he not only espouses Republican ideas, but also Liberal ones as well (citymayors.com). For example, Mayor Bloomberg promotes the idea of same sex marriage; an idea very unpopular with Republicans (citymayors.com). According to Split, most voters have started to vote Republican on most cultural issues such as abortion would not be a correct claim, because most voters do not associate with conservative ideologies (Brewer& Stonecash, 164).  However, Split manages to show that cultural issues are very important to American voters. In Bloomberg’s case, most voters were not conservative, but approved of his job on certain cultural issues such as education. Also, Bloomberg had an impressive win with voters on all class levels with 56% of low income voters, 54% of the middle class, and 55% of the upper class (wcbstv.com).  Finally, most of the voters were 65+, which could show that Mayor Bloomberg appealed to mostly older voters (appserv.pace.edu).  However, the least amount of the voters were 18-24, which was during the time that most college students during this time were being encouraged to vote by going to college campuses and encouraging students to vote (appserv.pace.edu).  This strategy to mobilize younger voters, according to the poll data, did not work. What is interesting about this race is that Mayor Bloomberg not only ran as a Republican, but also an Independent (citymayors.com).  He even gave a generous donation to the Independence Party (citymayors.com).  This was a great strategy on the Mayor’s part because not only can he mobilize support from Republicans and Liberals, but also third party members.  In fact, the Independence Party had mobilized their voters the week before the elections by calling their party members, telling them to vote for Mayor Bloomberg.

Another factor with voters is that most of them seemed to believe that Mayor Bloomberg’s experience as a business leader makes him an excellent choice for mayor (citymayors.com).  When speaking with a voter from Long Island, she said she would vote for Mayor Bloomberg, because he seemed to be much more of a leader than Fernando Ferrer.  This was reflected in the Pace University Polls, which showed that the most percentage of voters (23%) found strong leadership to be the most important quality in a candidate (appserv.pace.edu). In her eyes, or more correctly the media’s eyes, Fernando Ferrer was a “doormat”, who would let people walk all over him.  This argument against Ferrer had been used in Bloomberg’s advertisements, but he made it more apparent in their television debate.  In response to a critique made by Ferrer about the status of living being expensive in New York, Mayor Bloomberg said “It is easy to be a critic.  It is very hard to lead.”(gothamgazette.com, 1).

Finally, with all these factors, one question still remains; why was this election so important?  First of all, this election was evident that the candidate the candidate’s money is not important, but his personality and leadership skills.  Many New Yorkers felt that Fernando Ferrer was not as good as a leader as Mayor Bloomberg.  This was contributed to the repeated combination of smearing Ferrer through campaign advertisements and improving his own image through press releases.  This election also showed us that having all of these resources is not enough, but it is how one uses them that counts.  Mayor Bloomberg knew how to use the media to his advantage and was able to gain a favorable image with the public.  He also knew that he had several weaknesses in his campaign as an incumbent.  He knew that many New Yorkers had not agreed with some of his decisions in the past, such as rebuilding Yankee Stadium (citymayors.com).  However, through his press releases, he was able to let New Yorkers look past his shortcomings and to show them that he is the man fit for the job of mayor.  This election also corroborates with Split, which says that cultural issues are very important to voters today, especially with education like New York.  What is sad about this race is that the election poll data showed a huge amount of apathy on the part of younger voters.

Throughout much of recent election history in the United States, one would think that candidates with the most money are the ones with the most access to campaign resources.  This is not to say, however, that having the most money will assure absolute victory in an election, but it does put the odds in favor of the richest candidate.  Mayor Bloomberg was a very rich candidate with access to many resources.  However, having these resources are not as important as how you use them.  Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign started out by smearing his opponent through advertisements and then continued with press releases of himself doing charitable works to improve his image.  The climax of the mayor’s campaign was his debate with Fernando Ferrer, which gave him a chance to come face to face with his opponent.  Even with Ferrer’s criticizing remarks, the mayor was able to prove himself a stronger leader by showing he was a man of action, just like Bush in his debate with John Kerry.  All in all, it comes down to this; voters love strong leaders.  As seen in this election race, the voters needed a strong leader, not someone whom they perceived as a complainer.  As said in Split, voters also tend to be leaning towards more liberal views on cultural issues (Brewer& Stonecash, 164).  Bloomberg’s campaign through his vast resources, especially the media played on this demand from voters.  Mayor Bloomberg proved once again that he can reach out to New Yorkers and that he is a “real New Yorker.”

 

Works Cited.

Appserv.pace.edu/emplibrary/Exit%20Poll%20Survey%20Topline%20Report%20Final%20 Draft2.pdf

 

http://www.citymayors.com/mayors/new_york_mayor.html

 

Exit Poll:  How Bloomberg Won the Mayoral Race.  http://wcbstv.com/topstories/local_story_313094830.html

 

www.nyc.gov

Transcript of Final 2005General Election Mayoral Debate.  November 1, 2005.  http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/fea/2005/101/202/1644

Roberts, Sam.  “Voters; Mayor Crossed Ethnic Barriers for Big Victory.”  New York Times. Topics.nytimes.com/…/subjects/e/election_results/index.html?query=BLACKS&field=des&match=exact-66k.

Brewer, Mark D. & Stonecash, Jeffrey M.  Split: Class and Cultural Divides in American Politics. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.  2007.

 

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