Nobody Impressed by Bloomberg’s Wildly Expensive Five-Point Victory

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Maybe we owe Bill Thompson an apology. When his campaign released an internal poll a few days before the election showing him within just a few points of Mayor Bloomberg, we were dismissive, in light of every other poll showing Hizzoner leading comfortably by double digits. But last night's election was closer than anyone had expected, and Bloomberg ended up winning a third term by a mere 5 percentage points. When your campaign is backed by a record-breaking $100 million, that's just not the kind of victory that inspires much awe. (Though perhaps his "overkill" spending down the stretch has now been validated.) So today, the papers and pundits are wondering what Bloomberg's meager victory means for him going forward — and whether Thompson could have won with just a little bit of help from his friends.

• Michael Powell and Julie Bosmon believe the small margin of victory "could have profound implications for the tenor of a third Bloomberg term, not least that it is likely to hinder the mayor’s well-honed ability to cow Democrats and liberal interest groups." It'll also force Bloomberg "to confront the question of whether his five-point margin offers a different mandate: to change his governing style." [NYT]

• Sara Kugler writes that Bloomberg has been left "bruised by a surprisingly close re-election battle that exposed lingering anger over his reversal on term limits and his prodigious campaign spending." [AP via Google]

• The New York Post editorial board says voters sent Bloomberg a message: "Don't rest on your laurels." And he better not, because "everything Mike's sought in the past eight years pales in comparison to the state's budget tsunami. Current projections put the state deficit at $10 billion over the next 18 months — and $15 billion the year after that." [NYP]

• David Saltonstall and Celeste Katz wonder what would have happened if Barack Obama, Christine Quinn, Al Sharpton, and any other number of Democrats actually made a real attempt to help Thompson. [NYDN]

• Ben Smith calls Bloomberg's victory a "moral defeat for the billionaire incumbent and a profound embarrassment for a Democratic establishment — from the White House on down — that abandoned his rival, City Comptroller Bill Thompson, as a hopeless loser." [Politico]

• Steve Kornacki calls it most surprising near-upset since Christie Todd Whitman almost defeated Bill Bradley for the Senate in 1990. Whitman's political career took off afterward. Maybe the same won't happen with Bill Thompson, but he has at least earned "a little bit of respect." [NYO]

• Juan Gonzalez says that Bloomberg won't fool anyone by claiming that this was the "final proof that New Yorkers endorse his naked power grab last year to overturn term limits." Bloomberg's "third term will be far tougher than the mayor and his aides ever imagined." [NYDN]

• Robert Frank wonders if Bloomberg (and Corzine) lost votes "because of their personal wealth." [Wealth Report/WSJ]

• Adam Lisberg calculates the preliminary cost per vote for each candidate: "$157.27 per vote for Bloomberg, $13.12 per vote for Thompson." [Brawl for the Hall/NYDN]

• David Seifman and Sally Goldenberg quote one consultant who says of Bloomberg's record spending on his slim victory, "It probably means those are the most expensive 5 points in American history." [NYP]