So why don’t New Yorkers want him to run? The simple answer might be: We’re offended that he doesn’t consider this a full-time job. To watch de Blasio prepping his campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire over these past few months has felt like a slight. It’s also the culmination of a long-term drift in the mayor’s attention. In his first year, Hizzoner spent an average of 19 days a month in City Hall. By 2017 and 2018, that had dropped in half. He treats riding the subway as a chore and doesn’t care for the local sports teams. He genuinely seems more interested in national issues than local ones.
Which might be fine, if it didn’t so neatly reveal de Blasio’s central fault as mayor—one that would trail him, and hamper him, as a left-wing president: He doesn’t sweat the details.
De Blasio’s is a hunch-based politics, one where instinct comes before evidence and management is an afterthought. In some ways, that instinctual tendency has been a welcome relief from the technocratic style of his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. It certainly makes him a better politician. De Blasio’s decision to end the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy, for example, was courageous—and his gambit was vindicated by crime rates that haven’t stopped falling.
Yet on other fronts, the mayor’s aversion to the messy businesses of data and management has not served him well.