When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared his presidential candidacy in May, he was derided by many in the media. Yet he was a politician who could point out that his constituents liked him even if the media didn’t.
Four months later, de Blasio’s presidential campaign is going nowhere. Worse, New York City voters seem to be punishing him for a campaign they didn’t want him to run.
De Blasio’s popularity among New York City voters is the worst it’s ever been. Siena College polled New York state voters and provided a substantial crosstab of New York City voters.
According to this poll, just 33% of New York City voters say they have a favorable rating of de Blasio. His unfavorable rating has climbed to 58%. This makes for a net favorability rating of -25 points. He earned 0% of the vote among Democratic voters in a potential presidential primary.
Crosstabs, of course, have margins of error, but the trendline here is unmistakable. De Blasio’s net favorability rating had never dropped below -12 points before May 2019 in any Quinnipiac University or Siena polling crosstab of New York City voters. In an average of 17 polls taken since he was first elected, de Blasio averaged a +8 point net favorability rating. He would sometimes get into the mid to high +20s or above.
Since de Blasio started running for president, his net favorability has been below -12 points in all three Siena polls conducted. He’s gone from -13 points in June to -19 points in late July/early August to -25 points today.
It shouldn’t be surprising that de Blasio’s losing steam with his constituents. The vast majority, 76%, told Quinnipiac pollsters in the early spring that they didn’t want him to run for president. In doing so, de Blasio was away from the city for numerous events; most notably, he was in Iowa during a power outage.
Presidential campaigns don’t necessarily make a candidate less popular at home. After he lost the 2000 GOP primary, former Arizona Sen. John McCain won three Senate elections – two of which happened after he won the 2008 Republican presidential nomination and lost the race to Barack Obama. And former Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry won another Senate term in 2008 after losing his presidential bid to George W. Bush in 2004.
Campaigns in which candidates press on, despite seemingly having no chance, can be another matter. Former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd was once quite popular in his home state. Quinnipiac regularly pegged his approval rating in the high 50s to mid 60s.
Then Dodd decided to run for president and move his family to Iowa in 2007, even though he rarely broke low single digits in caucuses and primary polling. His approval dropped to 51% in the first poll taken after his bid ended and kept on dropping following a Senate investigation on mortgages he received. He was cleared in that investigation, but the totality of it all finished off Dodd. He ended up not running for another Senate term.
Other candidates in the 2020 field seem to be realizing that sometimes it’s best to go home when you have little chance of winning. California Rep. Eric Swalwell and Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton called it quits to run for another House term in 2020. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand left the race, too. Like de Blasio, she’s recording record high unfavorable ratings in New York.
The bottom line is this: Voters seem more than willing to allow their politicians to leave their day jobs to run for higher office. But as the de Blasio saga illustrates, voters don’t want their politicians going on vanity missions. They want them concentrating on the job they were elected to do.