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New York City mayoral election, 1997

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

New York City mayoral election, 1997

← 1993 November 4, 1997 2001 →

Rudy Giuliani (cropped).jpg
Ruth Messinger 2012 (cropped).jpg
Nominee Rudy Giuliani Ruth Messinger
Party Republican Democratic
Alliance Liberal -
Popular vote 783,815 549,335
Percentage 55.2% 42.9%

NYC Mayoral Election 1997 Results by Borough.svg
Results by Borough

Mayor before election

Rudy Giuliani

Elected Mayor

Rudy Giuliani

The New York City mayoral election of 1997 occurred on Tuesday November 4, 1997, with incumbent Republican mayor Rudy Giuliani soundly defeating Manhattan Borough President and former New York City Council member Ruth Messinger, the Democratic nominee. They also faced several third party candidates.

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Giuliani's opponent in 1997 was Democratic Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger, who had beaten Al Sharpton in the September 9, 1997 Democratic primary.[1] The results of the Democratic primary had been contested in court by Sharpton, who argued that he qualified for a run-off election with Messinger,[2] Sharpton waited until October to endorse Messinger against Giuliani, and it was perceived by some as tepid.[3]

In the general election, Giuliani also had the Liberal Party of New York line on the ballot, but not the Conservative Party of New York listing, in both respects repeating a pattern that had been established in both his successful 1993 election and his unsuccessful 1989 campaign. (In particular, the Conservative Party, which had often co-lined the Republican party candidate, broke with Giuliani in 1989.[4] Conservative Party leaders were unhappy with Giuliani on ideological grounds, citing the Liberal Party's endorsement statement that Giuliani "agreed with the Liberal Party's views on affirmative action, gun control, school prayer and tuition tax credits."[5])

Giuliani ran an aggressive campaign, parlaying his image as a tough leader who had cleaned up the city. Giuliani's popularity was at its highest point to date, with a late October 1997 Quinnipiac University Polling Institute poll showing him as having a 68% approval rating; 70% of New Yorkers were satisfied with life in the city and 64% said things were better in the city compared to four years previously.[6]

Throughout the campaign he was well ahead in the polls and had a strong fund-raising advantage over Messinger. On her part, Messinger lost the support of several usually Democratic constituencies, including gay organizations and large labor unions.[7] All four daily New York newspapers—The New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, and Newsday—endorsed Giuliani over Messinger.[8] Two televised debates were held, but Messinger was unable to get traction in highlighting that Giuliani was interested in higher office and might not serve out a full second term.[9] Messinger claimed that the real mayor was not in evidence during the debates: "Let me point out that we're certainly seeing the nice Rudy Giuliani tonight."[9]

In the end, Giuliani won 55% of the vote to Messinger's 43%, and became the first Republican to win a second term as mayor since Fiorello H. LaGuardia in 1941.[1] Voter turnout was the lowest in 12 years, with only 38% of registered voters casting ballots.[10] The margin of victory was not quite as large as pre-election polls had predicted;[11] analysis of the vote showed that Giuliani made modest gains in his share of the African American vote (20% compared to 5% in 1993, while benefitting from lower turnout overall) and Hispanic vote (43% from 37%) while maintaining his solid base of white and Jewish voters from 1993.[11]

In his acceptance speech, Giuliani acknowledged the image of divisiveness he had acquired during his first term and vowed to correct it: "Whether you voted for me or against me, whether you voted or didn't vote, I'm your Mayor, this is your administration. We have to do a better job of serving all of you. We have to reach out to all of you. And if we haven't, I apologize. I'm sorry and it is my personal commitment that we will try, endlessly and tirelessly, to bring all of you into the kind of success and optimism we have in this room."[10]

Less dramatically, the losing Messinger said, "Tonight, we lost a battle but the war goes on ... Our schools still don't work ... and they are still worth fighting for. We gave it everything we had."[1]

Candidates for mayor

Unsuccessful candidates

Democratic Party

1997 Democratic Primary Total %
Ruth Messinger 165,377 40.19%
Al Sharpton 131,848 32.40%
Sal Albanese 86,485 21.02%
All others 27,749 6.74%
411,459 100%

Republican Party


1997 General Election party Manhattan The Bronx Brooklyn Queens Staten Island Total %
Rudolph Giuliani Republican-Liberal 138,718 81,897 173,343 176,751 45,120 615,829 55.2%
50.9% 43.6% 53.3% 64.6% 78.6%
Ruth Messinger Democratic 128,478 102,979 145,349 92,194 10,288 479,288 42.9%
47.1% 54.8% 44.7% 33.7% 17.9%
All others 5,534 2,901 6,259 4,586 1,961 21,241 1.9%
2.0% 1.5% 1.9% 1.7% 3.4%
272,730 187,777 324,951 273,531 57,369 1,116,358 100%


  • In the Democratic Primary, Messinger defeated Rev. Al Sharpton, avoiding a runoff election.


Voter demographics

The 1997 NYC mayoral election by demographic subgroup
Demographic subgroup Messinger Giuliani % of
total vote
Total vote 43 55 100
Liberals 55 43 33
Moderates 38 61 42
Conservatives 23 72 23
Democrats 54 45 61
Republicans 6 92 19
Independents/Other 34 65 19
Men 36 62 45
Women 45 54 55
White 21 76 53
Black 79 20 21
Hispanic 57 43 20
18–29 years old 40 59 15
30–44 years old 47 50 33
45–59 years old 42 56 26
60 and older 32 67 26
Family income
Under $15,000 56 42 16
$15,000–30,000 47 50 21
$30,000–50,000 42 57 24
$50,000–75,000 31 67 20
$75,000–100,000 33 61 9
Over $100,000 28 71 10
Union households
Union 45 52 42
Non-union 37 62 58
Protestant 55 43 13
Catholic 32 66 41
Other Christian 60 37 10
Jewish 27 72 23
Other 64 34 7
None 56 42 6

Source: CNN exit poll (1,943 surveyed)[12]


  1. ^ a b c "Giuliani Wins With Ease",, November 4, 1997.
  2. ^ RACE FOR CITY HALL: THE OVERVIEW; Messinger Aims for Giuliani, and Sharpton Heads for Court - New York Times
  3. ^ Sharpton and Messinger Seal Awkward Political Alliance - New York Times
  4. ^ Frank Lynn, "Giuliani Files 2 Challenges To Take Lauder off Ballot", The New York Times, July 21, 1989. Accessed March 30, 2007.
  5. ^ "Election 2008: Giuliani Quotes Disturb N.Y. Conservative," "National Federation of Republican Assemblies,"
  6. ^ "Giuliani Approval, Satisfaction With City Hit New Highs, Quinnipiac College Poll Finds; Mayor's Lead Over Messinger Nears 2–1", Quinnipiac University Poll, October 29, 1997. Accessed June 24, 2007.
  7. ^ The Last Of The Liberals - Time
  8. ^ "Giuliani Goes After Voters In Messinger's Stronghold", The New York Times, October 27, 1997. Accessed June 24, 2007.
  9. ^ a b Adam Nagourney, "Giuliani Shrugs Off Messinger's Attacks in Debate", The New York Times, October 30, 1997. Accessed June 24, 2007.
  10. ^ a b Adam Nagourney, "Giuliani Sweeps to Second Term as Mayor", The New York Times, November 5, 1997. Accessed June 24, 2007.
  11. ^ a b David Firestone, "Big Victory, but Gains For Mayor Are Modest", The New York Times, November 6, 1997. Accessed June 24, 2007.
  12. ^ "New York City Exit Poll Results -- Nov. 4, 1997 (Mayor's Race)". Retrieved Sep 11, 2018.
This page was last edited on 11 September 2018, at 15:44
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