A Tumultuous Race Continues

Primary day has come and gone, yet it will be days, if not weeks, before the results in the race for the Democratic nomination for the New York City Mayoral election will be finalized.

Less than two months ago Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was trailing badly, and few thought he had a viable chance. But as the campaigns of his opponents faltered, de Blasio, aided by a gifted campaign team, managed to grab the lead and hold on to it.

With outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg thought to be popular by voters, many of the other candidates were reluctant to openly criticize His Honor. De Blasio showed no such compunctions.

Exit polls showed that 70 percent of primary voters surveyed said it was a bad idea to allow Bloomberg to run for a third term of office in 2009, and voters were divided on the way he handled his 12 years in office — 48 percent approved, 49 percent disapproved.

What was striking is that although Bloomberg earned high marks from the most liberal Democratic voters — 58 percent of very liberal voters approved of his work as mayor — de Blasio, who campaigned on a message of change, drew strong backing among these very voters.

On Tuesday he emerged far ahead of all the other candidates, and the only questions left to be resolved is whether he will face a runoff election.

Among the lessons that can already be learned is just how fickle pre-election opinion polls are, and how each vote really does make a difference. It appears likely that a relatively small number of ballots will make the difference between a grueling runoff election or a straight road to November.