CNN

Why the New York special election for George Santos’ seat matters

Feb 13, 2024, 8:25 AM | Updated: 8:26 am

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., leaves the Capitol after being expelled from the House of Representativ...

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., leaves the Capitol after being expelled from the House of Representatives, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Washington. The House has voted to expel Santos following a critical ethics report on his conduct that included converting campaign donations for his own use, making him just the sixth member in the chamber’s history to be ousted by his colleagues. Expulsion requires support from two-third of the House. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

Tune in to Dave & Dujanovic!

(CNN) — Democrats, when confronted with President Joe Biden’s poor polling numbers, often counter with some form of the following: “Polls are polls, but when people vote, Democrats are doing well.”

The idea being that Democrats have done well in major special and off-year elections since the 2022 midterms.

The special election in New York’s 3rd Congressional District to succeed the infamous George Santos offers perhaps the best chance to test Democrats’ theory ahead of the presidential election.

Does former Rep. Tom Suozzi win in yet another example of Democrats defying national polling trends? Or does Nassau County Legislator Mazi Pilip secure victory, showing how Republicans are winning pivotal races in places Biden comfortably won in 2020?

Yes, we’re looking at just one election on Long Island, but it’s a fascinating one.

As we enter Election Day, the race seems far too close to call. A Newsday/Siena College poll released last week put Suozzi at 48% and Pilip at 44%, a result well within the margin of error. Throw in forecasted bad weather in this Nassau County and eastern Queens district, and we really can’t be certain who will emerge victorious.

The fact that the race is tight makes sense if you look at the district’s recent voting record. I mentioned that Biden carried the seat in 2020 (by 8 points), but local Republicans have been dominating since. They did well in 2023’s local races. GOP candidates for governor and US Senate won the district by margins between 4 and 12 points in 2022, as did Santos.

This means that even a narrow Suozzi victory would be impressive for Democrats given how well Republicans have done in other elections in the area.

Indeed, outside of Long Island, Democrats did well in last year’s big elections. They won the Kentucky gubernatorial election, maintained their majority in the Virginia Senate and flipped the Virginia House. The candidate favored by Democrats won a Wisconsin Supreme Court race, which gave the more liberal justices a majority on that court.

A lot of analysts (myself included) have been skeptical about making too much of these results. Turnout in off-year elections is often low. Voters who have been showing up for these off-year races have been more Democratic-leaning than their share of all registered voters in the same states and districts     .

Of course, we’re now in a presidential election year, and there are also signs that these off-year results may have been pointing at something important. Yes, the turnout may have been more Democratic than among all registered voters. But the turnout in the presidential election may be as well.

Most national pollsters are gauging responses from registered voters. Not all registered voters will cast a ballot in the presidential election. When pollsters such as Ipsos and The New York Times have honed on either those certain to vote or those likely to vote this year, Biden has done significantly better against his likely Republican opponent, Donald Trump. Ipsos, for example, recently showed a 5-point lead for the former president among registered voters becoming a tie among those certain to vote.

A Suozzi win would further prove the point that Democrats do well when voters are treated to an actual campaign.

On the other hand, a win by Pilip would give us a different narrative. This is the only federal election since the midterms that has been remotely competitive. All the other competitive races were state elections, and voting patterns between US House and presidential elections are far more correlated than they are for state offices and presidential elections.

While it would be easy to dismiss a Pilip win by saying that Long Island has swung to the right since 2020, the rest of the country may have as well. Remember that in the last high-turnout election (the 2022 midterms), Republicans won control of the US House. They did so while winning the House popular vote by 3 points.

That Republican victory represented a 6-point swing from the 2020 House elections. Moreover, that 3-point Republican edge in 2022 looks a lot like Trump’s current advantage over Biden among registered voters nationally. In other words, it’s possible that the national environment hasn’t moved all that much from the last time Republicans secured an important win.

So a victory by Pilip would suggest that perhaps things aren’t all that different from where we were in 2022. This would mean that we have a closely divided electorate, but one with which Republicans are favored.

Either way, you can bet your last dollar that both sides will try to spin the New York special election result. What else would you expect when there’s been more than $10 million spent on ads, which I can report have been playing nonstop on local television.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

CNN

Afghan relatives offer prayers during a burial ceremony near the graves of victims who lost their l...

Niamh Kennedy and Radina Gigova, CNN

At least 300 people killed by flash floods in Afghanistan

At least 300 people have died in flash flooding that has ravaged northern Afghanistan in recent days, the Word Food Programme said Sunday.

1 month ago

The Apple Store at Towson Town Center Mall in Maryland is pictured. Apple Store workers in Towson, ...

Jordan Valinsky, CNN

Apple Store workers in Maryland vote to authorize strike

Apple Store workers in Towson, Maryland made history by voting late May 11 in favor of authorizing a strike.

1 month ago

Smoke from wildfires blankets the city as a couple has a picnic in Edmonton, Alberta, Saturday, May...

Paradise Afshar and Sara Smart, CNN

Canadians evacuate due to wildfires as air quality deteriorates

Thousands across Canada were urged to evacuate from blazing wildfires on Saturday, and the smoke emanating from them could be another danger.

1 month ago

Salvage crew members work on the deck of the cargo ship Dali on Friday, May 10....

Nicole Grether and Gloria Pazmino, CNN

Crews could use explosives to demolish part of Baltimore’s Key Bridge

Crews are expected to execute a plan to use small explosives to break apart a massive chunk of the Baltimore bridge that collapsed.

1 month ago

The sun is rising with a flare over Korla, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China, on May 10....

Brian Fung, CNN

Why tonight’s massive solar storm could disrupt communications and GPS systems

An unusual amount of solar activity due to a solar storm this week could disrupt some of the most important technologies society relies on.

1 month ago

A customer wipes sweat from their face as they work out on a treadmill inside a Planet Fitness Inc....

Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN

Planet Fitness will raise its $10 membership plan for the first time in 26 years

Planet Fitness will raise the price of its “classic” membership from $10 a month to $15 for new members beginning in the summer.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Why the New York special election for George Santos’ seat matters