But as former House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously said, “all politics is local.” So let’s dig a little deeper. The clear leader at this point, Eric Adams, is a former police officer and current Brooklyn Borough President, who promised to be tough on crime, rejecting calls to “defund the police.”
That’s much higher than when de Blasio took office — though well below the city’s murder peak in the early 1990s during the administration of Mayor David Dinkins.
Since then, 600,000 more New Yorkers have joined the Democratic Party And while turnout is up, still only roughly a quarter of Democrats participated in this week’s primary, with Adams currently having, in incomplete returns, fewer total votes than de Blasio did in his primary eight years ago.
Thankfully, this year, New York City embarked on an experiment with Ranked Choice Voting — a system used in cities like London — where voters ranked their top five choices. All we know now is who won the first round — and over the next few days or perhaps even weeks, thanks to the sclerotic Board of Elections, we’ll see who gets pushed past 50% as a result of the second choices of voters who backed losing candidates.
This at least ensures a more representative outcome. It’s a step in the right direction. But it’s not enough. In the general election, the odds are against Republican Curtis Sliwa because Democrats have such an overwhelming advantage in the city. It’s likely we’ll see a far smaller number of voters choosing the next mayor of America’s largest city than when we had a competitive open general election in 2001.
Ranked-choice voting could then allow the top three candidates to compete in a general election run-off, ensuring a real choice for all voters to focus on for the next five months, instead of having a mayor-elect selected by a quarter of the voters in one political party in a city of 8 million people.
All this is a reminder that democracy is always a work in process, and we should not be afraid to experiment with ways to ensure that more voters can meaningfully participate in the process — because representative electorates lead to representative results.