Michael Bloomberg only won the 2001 mayoral race by 35,000 votes. His margin of victory in Staten Island? 61,000 votes. The city’s whitest and most Catholic borough by a mile, Staten Island has long been a reliable source of votes for Republican mayoral candidates — it hasn’t gone to a Democrat since Ed Koch in 1985.
So it’s not surprising that, like a character on Lost, Joe Lhota has been kind of obsessed with The Island. Since Primary Day, he’s made a total of nine separate visits to Staten Island, compared to just two for Bill de Blasio. And in debates, while Bill de Blasio has repeatedly scolded Lhota for attending not just a tea-party meeting, but a Staten Island (bonus stigma) tea-party meeting , Lhota has boasted of keeping tolls down for Staten Island commuters and claimed that the best non-family-related day of his life — of his life! — was closing the Fresh Kills landfill.
And yet, despite it all — the borough’s electoral history, the relative effort expended by Lhota and De Blasio — Lhota currently trails De Blasio among Staten Islanders, 44 to 38, according to a new amNewYork-News 12 poll. It’s a small sample size, there are a lot of undecided voters, the election is still eleven days away, yadda, yadda. Nevertheless, that one data point should tell you everything you need to know about where this race is headed.