NEW YORK - (AP) - Mayor Michael Bloomberg's record spending isfavored to win him a third term Tuesday, but by a far smallermargin than the nearly 20-point blowout he pulled off in 2005.
Public opinion surveys find Bloomberg with a much narrower leadover Democrat William Thompson Jr. this year than the lead he heldover his Democratic opponent in his last re-election bid, when hesteamrolled Fernando Ferrer by nearly 20 points.
The rivals surfaced early at their own Manhattan polling places.After voting at a school, Bloomberg took $1 from his wallet andmade a bake sale purchase. Thompson arrived with family members intow and gave a thumbs-up as he left the voting booth.
The billionaire mayor spent record sums from his personalfortune on both elections. He's likely to burn through more than$100 million on this one, while Thompson is expected to spendone-tenth of that. The mayor spent $85 million in 2005.
Analysts say the smaller margin expected this year is partly dueto voter resentment over the way the mayor hastily persuaded theCity Council to change term-limit law last year so that he couldrun again.
The anger has simmered but is not widely predicted to boil upenough for a Thompson upset.
A Bloomberg win "will be less than the landslide it was fouryears ago," said Maurice Carroll, Quinnipiac University pollingdirector. "The term limits thing did hurt - but the numbers stillsay 'Bloomberg easy,"' he said.
The latest poll Monday found Thompson 12 points behindBloomberg, tighter than the 18-point gap in a Quinnipiac poll aweek ago. A Marist College poll last Thursday had Bloomberg up by15 points.
Monday's Quinnipiac poll said 50 percent of the 1,360 likelyvoters surveyed support Bloomberg, while 38 percent backedThompson, the city's comptroller. About 10 percent were undecided.
The former Republican mayor, now not in any party but stillrunning on the GOP and Independence Party lines, had long insistedhe supported term limits before changing course last year.
Bloomberg spoke with restrained optimism Monday when he wasasked whether he was aiming for a landslide Tuesday or would behappy to just squeak by with a victory.
"A win is a win, but you'd always like to have more," he said."Nobody's going to remember two days later how much you won by -they're only going to remember who's going to be mayor for the nextfour years."
He began the day greeting voters on the Staten Island ferry andat the terminal, where a woman wearing a Thompson campaign stickerbrushed past him and said: "Mayor Bloomberg, you're a disgrace."
"Thank you, very nice," the mayor replied.
Bloomberg got a better reception at a Staten Island bakery and aBrooklyn cake shop - two stops on a tour of small businesses ineach of the five boroughs Monday. Passers-by stopped to take photosand chat with the mayor, telling him he was sure to win Tuesday.
Thompson, meanwhile, campaigned in Harlem and then went toChinatown with a popular fellow Democrat, John Liu, who won theprimary for Thompson's job and is expected to easily defeat hisRepublican opponent.
Thompson told voters at a senior center that Tuesday is the"day of decision" and said, "If we vote, we will bring realchange to New York City."
The latest Quinnipiac poll had a plus or minus 2.7 percentagepoint margin of error.
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