A day after Mayor Bill de Blasio saw his approval rating drop to 50 percent in a recent poll, de Blasio proclaimed that Election Day is the only poll that counts—on the grounds that polls erroneously led people to believe President Donald Trump would not win the presidential election.
In the latest Quinnipiac University poll, about half of voters surveyed indicated they were pleased with his handling of his job as mayor, compared to 42 percent who disapprove. This marked a 10-point drop from their May 17 poll in which 60 percent of voters approved and 34 percent expressed dissatisfaction.
The finding came amid de Blasio and Cuomo’s feud over who should fund the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s subway turnaround plan — the MTA is a state-run agency, thus under Cuomo’s authority — and de Blasio requesting more than $2 million in taxpayer-financed matching funds for the Democratic primary.
De Blasio told reporters that “polls come, polls go” and that he is “never surprised the way they go up or down.” He referred to the fact that Trump won the presidential election despite polls indicating that his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would triumph.
“It’s not just the famous hackneyed phrase, ‘The only poll that matters is on Election Day”—that is literally a true statement,” he said at an unrelated school safety update press conference this morning. “By the way, I think November 8, 2016 was really the ultimate version of that, to be honest. I really, really don’t like what happened but I think for all of us who have watched politics for a long time, that’s the truth. We don’t know anything until the people vote.”
Since Trump won the election, de Blasio has often made fighting Trump’s agenda—which has included executive orders barring entry to people from Muslim-majority countries, withholding funds for so-called “sanctuary cities” for undocumented immigrants and a more aggressive national stop-and-frisk policy—a focal point of his campaign.
Recently, he sent out a fundraising email titled, “[Fight Back] Trump is in NY today, taking aim at the Mayor,” in response to Trump saying in a speech on Long Island where he said that an unnamed “pathetic mayor” that “doesn’t know what’s going on” who has prevented police officers from doing their jobs.
The mayor insisted that he does not get caught up in “week to week or month to month variations,” noting that he will be running on his first-term record, which he said includes a drop in overall crime, an increase in high school graduation rates and a 93 percent decrease in the use of the stop-and-frisk policing method—though some activists argue the controversial policing method is still being used. He also pointed to free access to legal services for tenants facing eviction, rent freezes and his affordable housing plan. This, he said “are the things people wanna see from the city of New York.”
“I think the bottom line is that people in this city are gonna judge based on record and today is an example,” de Blasio continued. “Crime is going down in the city. Crime is going down on schools.”
Despite the approval rating drop, the poll found that he still beats Malliotakis, with 57 percent of voters saying that they would vote for him, compared to 22 percent for Malliotakis—if they were the only two candidates in the race.
The mayor took a jab at Malliotakis, asserting that she’s “out of touch with the values of New Yorkers” because her views and positions are not in sync with the average New Yorker.
Malliotakis is opposed to the city’s plan to close Rikers Island and relocating the jail system to neighborhoods in each of the five boroughs, also pointing to the issue of overcrowding in jails which she said is due to inmates not making bail. She also recently slammed his supervised release program that she said is enabling people “who are a threat to public safety walk the streets.”
“People all over this city want to see fewer people incarcerated with the right rules in place to make sure that public safety is preserved,” he added. “They certainly want to see Rikers Island close. She seems to be going in the wrong direction there both in terms of substance but also in terms of the values of New Yorkers. So I don’t think consistently saying things that people find to be the wrong position is gonna get her very far.”
In a statement, Malliotakis said that New Yorkers are “sick and tired” of subway delays, “aggressive panhandling,” public urination, failing schools and a homeless crisis “that continues to spiral out of control.” She claimed that his campaign goals of “eliminating his tale of two cities” and making the city affordable “have gone unfulfilled.”
“It’s Bill ‘I don’t care’ de Blasio who is out of touch; his poll numbers are plummeting because New Yorkers realize he is the problem, not the solution,” she said.
A campaign spokesman for Malliotakis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Still, de Blasio insisted that he “never believes” himself to be beyond reproach and that he often examines how he can ameliorate his approach to governing the city.
“I am constantly asking myself what can I do better and like every other human being, I’m sure I’ve made plenty of mistakes but that’s not how I look at polling as I mentioned earlier,” de Blasio said. “You’ll recall the year 2013 where if I had gone by the polling, I wouldn’t even have bothered to get out of bed in the morning for most of that year.”
He admitted he has regrets but would not specify them, though he said he pushes himself “to do better all the time.”
“I feel confident that the things that we’re doing that affect people’s lives are what matter,” he said. “I’m sure I make all sorts of mistakes but when it comes to the basics that people care about, I feel great about the record.”
This story has been updated to include a comment from Assemblywoman Malliotakis.