Bill Thompson Talks Polls And Afros Ahead Of NYC Primary


New York City mayoral candidate Bill Thompson doesn’t think this year’s race is going to be like the last one. 

In 2009, he was a surprisingly close runner up to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who Thompson has said was aided by a poll-driven sense of inevitability. This year, in surveys ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic primary, Thompson had polled far behind Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who pollsters have placed on the cusp of the forty percent threshold necessary to avoid a runoff iin the crucial Democratic primary.

However, Thompson said Monday night the pollsters had been underestimating him once again, and he told TPM he’s not worried that the polls could become a self-fulfilling prophecy this time around.

“It’s not the reaction I’m getting across the city. I think that the polls are indicating something. I think it’s helped him with some momentum,” Thompson said of de Blasio at a campaign event in East Harlem. “But at the same point, I don’t think it’s going to be, you know, it’s not overwhelming like it was in 2009. And people still know there’s an election out there and that their vote counts.”

Thompson’s campaign has seemingly focused on key blocs in Upper Manhattan, the Bronx, and Central Brooklyn. When TPM asked whether de Blasio’s lead in the polls showed this strategy may have been somewhat flawed, Thompson rejected the notion he hasn’t run a broad campaign.

Bill Thompson's afro

“I think I’ve continued to run a campaign that’s reached out all across the city, so I don’t think it has been segmented in any way,” said Thompson. “I think it has reached out to people all across the city of New York.”

Another often-cited factor behind de Blasio’s surging poll numbers has been an advertisement featuring his son, Dante de Blasio, who has a now-famous afro hairdo. In his high school days, Thompson also sported an afro, so TPM asked whether he wished he still had the hairstyle.

“I think in looking at my hair right now, if I could have that afro, I’d be happy to,” Thompson said. “I don’t think it’s exactly going to work. I dont think it’s a question of would I like to keep it. It’s a question of, I think nature has said that I’m not going to be able to keep it.”

Yearbook photo from via The Observer