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Bill De Blasio, Anti-Stop and Frisk, Anti-Bloomberg Progressive Tops NYC Dem Mayoral Primary

Spitzer and Weiner fail in redemption quest. Joe Lhota tops Republicans.


Bill De Blasio, the liberal pragmatist who sprang from nowhere to storm the Democratic race for  New York mayor, was within a hair's breadth of winning his party's nomination outright on Wednesday.

Unofficial tallies put De Blasio at 40.2%, just over the 40% needed to avoid a run-off on 1 October. A decisive result would place De Blasio in the front-runner position for the November general election, where he would go up against the former chief of New York's transport agency, Joe Lhota, who won the Republican nomination.

But official results put him just under 40% and should a final count force De Blasio to go to a second round, he would go face Bill Thompson, the city's former comptroller, or chief auditor, who took second place with 26%. Christine Quinn, the city council leader and early favourite, was beaten into a distant third place.

In his election night speech, delivered close to midnight, Thompson made it clear that he would not go easily. He said that he would ensure that "every vote counted" – a strong hint that he intends to wait for an official declaration that included absentee ballots, which may not come for three weeks.

In exit polls conducted by Edison Research, De Blasio trounced his rivals among all main demographic groups. He held sway among men (44%) and women (42%), whites (46%), blacks (44%) and Hispanics (41%), all the city's main religious communities and all age groups.

The result was a resounding vindication for De Blasio's unconventional approach to the New York mayoral race in which he cut across traditional racial and ethnic lines to build what the  Guardian analyst Harry Enten called "the most diverse coalition in modern history". Key to his success, propelled from a little-known fourth place contender just a few weeks ago to his party's front-runner, was his message of a "tale of two cities" – an implicit attack on the style of leadership of the current mayor, billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

In his victory speech, delivered in his home neighbourhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn, De Blasio returned to the theme tune of his campaign, promising an alternative to the Bloomberg era. New York, he said, had become "a tale of two cities – one where the very wealthy had not only rebounded from the great recession but life couldn't get much better for them, and another New York where nearly half are living on or near the poverty line, where luxury condos replace community hospitals, where pro-active policing has slipped into racial profiling."

De Blasio, 52, the city's current public advocate, used a vociferous assault on the "stop and frisk" policy promoted by Bloomberg and his police chief, Ray Kelly, to position himself as the liberal choice and to force the previous Democratic front-runner, Christine Quinn, to defend herself against accusations she was too close to the incumbent mayor.

The devastating impact of De Blasio's strategy was underlined by exit polls: Democratic primary voters who think "stop and frisk" is excessive swung behind him by a whopping 56%, while Quinn was backd by only 7% of black voters, who are overwhelmingly on the receiving end of the aggressive policing policy.

For Quinn the night was bitter. The speaker of the city council was bidding to be New York's first woman and first gay mayor, yet she only managed to attract 15% of the vote, having tumbled from her leading position earlier in the summer.

Anthony Weiner, another toppled front-runner, also had a punishing night, though 5% of Democratic voters stuck with him despite his highly publicised recidivist problems with internet flirting. In a tear-filled concession speech, in which his wife Huma Abedin was notable by her absence, he said: "We had the best ideas. Sadly I was an imperfect messenger." He left in a flurry, and was pictured giving a one-fingered gesture of insult to reporters as he was driven away.