Towering progressive Bill de Blasio almost certainly won New York City’s Democratic primary on Tuesday evening. He trounced previous front-runner Chris Quinn on an unapologetically liberal, anti-Bloomberg platform, following a competent campaign and decades of service in New York City politics. But in reality — the reality defined by Manhattan media, at least — de Blasio won because his son, 16-year-old Dante de Blasio, filmed that touching 15-second political ad you probably saw on YouTube.
Time: “The Ad That Won the New York Mayor’s Race”
The New York Times: “[De Blasio’s] biggest buy and most talked-about commercial, of course, was the tribute from his son, Dante, known for his towering Afro.”
The Wall Street Journal: “Dante — and his definitive Afro hairstyle — shot to fame after featuring in a campaign advertisement for his father.”
The Daily Beast: “Dante de Blasio Might Just Have Gotten His Dad Elected Mayor”
USA Today: “Dante, with his big smile and even bigger hair, starred in a campaign commercial that helped push de Blasio and the candidate's message of ending economic inequality for New Yorkers to the top of the Democratic field.”
Bloomberg News (quoting a pollster): “Clearly [the airing of the ad was] when things changed for [de Blasio] in a dramatic way.”
Is any of this true? Sort of, maybe, but it’s not as dramatic as these reports suggest. According to aggregated polling data among New Yorkers asked to identify which candidate they would vote for if the Democratic primary were held that day, de Blasio’s upward trend, which had been fairly steady the month prior, bent slightly less upward after the ad appeared on YouTube and flooded New York’s television markets:
Around the same time, growing support for Thompson quickly reversed (before growing, once more, at the beginning of September), while support for Weiner completely cratered. Support for Quinn — once thought to be de Blasio’s chief competitor — was already declining. In other words: the ad didn’t hurt!
So who is Dante de Blasio? Mostly a normal high school junior. He attends Brooklyn Technical High School in Fort Greene, turned 16 on September 4, and consumes extremely standard teenage things: Parks and Recreation, The Onion, Kurt Vonnegut. One Brooklyn Tech classmate described him as “really smart.” He has an older sister, Chiara. Like most other teenagers, he’s not terribly interesting.
His hair, however—his hair is fascinating. He wears it in an afro, which political reporters have made a sport of describing: “stupendous”; “striking”; “fabulous”; “enormous”; “gigantic”; “amazing”; and on and on. (The point being: his hair is big.) Dante told DNAInfo that he started wearing one in the 3rd grade, when he became aware of the Sixties “black is beautiful” movement: “At the time I really just liked the style. I was just bringing back the style that meant a lot.” He added: “Honestly, it’s my hair and I’m glad to show it off.” He’s such a teenager it hurts.
But no: Dante de Blasio did not single-handedly hand his father’s victory to him. It makes a nice story, though.
[Image via YouTube]