Upper East Side Snubs de Blasio

The most impressive aspect of Bill de Blasio’s victory in yesterday’s Democratic primary for the post of New York’s mayor is its breadth.  He ran first in all the boroughs, carried parts of the city ‘s most African American neighborhoods in Harlem and Brooklyn, despite the presence of a prominent African American candidate in the race (William Thompson, who may yet squeak into a run-off depending on the count of the outstanding ballots), and romped through such white liberal strongholds as Greenwich Village, the Upper West Side, and Park Slope.

The New York Times website has a precinct-by-precinct map of how the candidates did. What’s particularly striking is that de Blasio ran either first or second in what was effectively a five-candidate field in every one of the city’s neighborhoods—with one exception. The exception was Manhattan’s Upper East Side, or more precisely, the precincts that encompassed Fifth, Madison, and Park Avenues and their side streets between 59th Street and, roughly, 90th Street. In other words, the precincts that are home to the nation’s—and many of the world’s—wealthiest people, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg. There was a time was when the congressional district centered on these streets was called the Silk Stocking District. And in these precincts of the old Silk Stocking District, de Blasio ran third.

New York, de Blasio said repeatedly, had become a tale of two cities. He cleaned up in the city of the 99 percent. In the city of the top 1 percent, however, he neither won nor placed, and in some precincts, barely showed.

That 1 percent, though, carries more electoral weight than de Blasio’s victory yesterday may suggest. It’s likely that Joseph Lhota, who won yesterday’s Republican primary and vows to continue Bloomberg’s policy, will raise enough money from that 1 percent to wage a scathing general election campaign against de Blasio, invoking the specter of fiscal ruin and a rise in crime if de Blasio becomes mayor. It’s not likely that Lhota will prevail, but if he doesn’t, it won’t be for lack of funding from the one part of the city where de Blasio ran third.