New York City mayor

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was re-elected, evidently by a 59-to-36 percent margin. (I can't find detailed election figures on the Web; the New York Times used to run them on the Thursday after the election but evidently doesn't deem them Web-worthy now.) This is an even bigger win than Rudolph Giuliani's re-election in 1997.

National significance? Democrats are correct in pointing out that Bloomberg was a Democrat, a pretty liberal Democrat, until he changed parties to run for mayor in 2001, and that he has governed in some respects like a liberal Democrat—he raised property taxes, for example. But on the one central issue in New York, he has been on the same side as Giuliani and on the opposite side of many vocal New York City Democrats and the liberal opinion-setters on the New York Times editorial page. That issue is crime control. Giuliani was attacked for years as a racist, even called Hitler, for his crime control policies. Bloomberg has followed a similar course, and the attacks have died down, in volume at least. One reason is that Bloomberg is less confrontational than Giuliani.

The other reason is that politicians have figured out that it would be lunatic to oppose those policies, because they worked. They reduced crime in New York City by more than half and were the inspiration for similar policies followed in cities across the nation, with similar results. They are one of the great—and unanticipated—policy successes of the 1990s. Bloomberg's opponent, Fernando Ferrer, seemed, despite some mixed signals, to be among the critics of the Giuliani policy. What's surprising is that he got as much as 39 percent of the vote.