Mayor Michael Bloomberg won his controversial third term by beating Comptroller William Thompson by a much smaller than predicted margin. See the updates below for how the election night unfolded.
9:30 p.m.: The polls closed at 9 pm — now it's just a waiting game to see who who will win. We'll be watching the polls as the precincts tally votes between Mayor Bloomberg (I) and Democratic rival Bill Thompson (D). NBC News, with just 7% of precincts reporting, projects Bloomberg as the winner, with 53% of the vote to Thompson's 44%. And the NY Times, with 17% of precincts reporting, calls Bloomberg as the winner, with 49% of the vote to Thompson's 47%. Clearly, the margins will change throughout the night.
Additionally, the Times projects victory for City Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D) in the Public Advocate race and City Councilman John Liu (D) in the City Comptroller race.
We'll be also keeping out eyes on the results of races for citywide offices as well as a handful of contested Council seats, so keep checking back. For up-to-the-minute returns, take a look at the Times' nifty election maps or NY1's live election returns.
Update 10:00 p.m.: Now NBC News says the service they use for election results has, uh, taken back calling the mayoral race for Bloomberg (now they say, with 32 percent of precincts reporting, that Bloomberg has 49 percent to Thompson's 48 percent). But NBC also reports that Thompson has called Bloomberg to concede (we can't help but remember when Al Gore conceded, unconceded and lost anyway!).
Update 10:08 p.m.: Even though the NY Times and NBC New York websites have pulled out the big fonts to announce the Bloomberg victory, the incumbent currently leads Thompson by less than 1 percent (48.6 to 48.1), according to the Gray Lady's projections. Could this turn out to be more of a nail-biter than anyone expected?
Update 10:22 p.m.: The Post joins the crowd in declaring Bloomberg — who spent nearly $100 million of his own money on the most expensive mayoral campaign, ever — the victor. The tabloid goes with the lead: "Call him Mike "Three Times" Bloomberg."
This comes as NY1 reports that Bloomberg leads Thompson 49 percent to 48 percent, with 63 percent of precincts reporting. Meanwhile the Times has Bloomberg at 49.4 percent to Thompson's 47.3 percent.
Update 10:32 p.m.: NY1's latest numbers: 76 percent precincts reporting, Bloomberg leading with 50 percent, Thompson has 47 percent.
Update 10:38 p.m.: The Times has Bloomberg at 49.9 percent and Thompson at 46.7 percent with 89 percent of precincts reporting. It's a bit early for analysis, but considering that third party candidates so far have pulled in 3.4 percent of the vote — more than the gap between the Bloomberg and Thompson — it seems fair to raise the question: Which candidate is hurt more by third party candidates?
Update 10:41 p.m.: Playing it more conservatively than the Times, NBC, and the Post, NY1 moments ago called Bloomberg the winner. Their numbers have the incumbent topping Thompson 50 percent to 47 percent with 91 percent of precincts reporting.
Update 10:53 p.m.: NY Times, with 96 percent of precincts reporting, has Bloomberg with a 4 percent lead at 50.5 percent and Thompson at 46.2 percent. Pundits on NY1 are now wondering what if a Democrat had actually run a strong campaign against Bloomberg (the Village Voice's Wayne Barrett deemed Thompson's effort "lame").
Update 11:07 p.m.: The AP has also called the race for Bloomberg. As for the supposed concession (as reported by NBC News) that Thompson made to Bloomberg... nada.
Update 11:25 p.m.: With 99% of precincts reporting, NY1 says there's 51% for Bloomberg and 46% for Thompson. The Daily News deems Bloomberg the winner, but has this quote from a Bloomberg campaign staffer, "That's hardly a mandate."
And Thompson just came to the stage, apparently to make a concession. He starts, "Thank you friends. And thank you New York City.... Your support, enthusiasm and desire for change are what carried me to this point. A few minutes ago, I called Mayor Bloomberg"—crowds boo—"to congratulate him on his victory...I pledged to do whatever i can to put the differences of the campaign behind us" and help move this city forward. Thompson congratulates the new Public Advocate, Bill De Blasio, and Comptroller, John Liu, both present on the stage.
Update 11:52 p.m.: Mayor Bloomberg emerges at his victory party (after an introduction from Jimmy Fallon)—the music is U2's City of Blinding LIghts. A sea of supporters, all races and ages, stands behind him. "Thank you, gracias! What a week this has turned out to be!" He acknowledges the "hard-fought" election in a tough year. He also plays to the crowd, saying who knows, there might be a big victory celebration this week—as in a Yankees ticker tape parade—and says of Fallon's intro, "That might be the nicest thing a Red sox fan said about a Yankees fan."
Overall, Bloomberg emphasizes how voters "chose progress." He notes Thompson's "gracious" concession call— Thompson is booed by the crowd but Bloomberg tells the crowd how Thompson's a good guy and asks for a round of applause for him. He also points out that they have more similarities than differences. When Bloomberg congratulates John Liu for being elected City Comptroller and Bill DeBlasio for his Public Advocate victory, there are big cheers in the crowd.
Bloomberg lists his various accomplishments and says if people think they've seen progress in these past eight years, he says of the next four years, "You ain't see nothin' yet!" He plays up his independence—"I couldn't be prouder in being the first Independent mayor of New York City." He rattles off some Spanish, thanks his many campaign staffers and volunteers (shout-out to Bradley Tusk) and thanks the women in his life— his daughters, sister and nieces, girlfriend Diana and mother. Also, he LOVES New York, "This is the place, no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, if you work hard enough and have a little bit of luck along the way, nothing can stop you from following your greatest dreams."