Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Suozzi Has Slight Lead over Pilip in the Special Election to Replace "George Santos"

Today's the day, as a new Siena College poll has Tom Suozzi (D) at 48% and Mazi Pilip (R, although a registered Democrat), at 44%. The other voters haven't made up their minds yet. This is consistent with the other polls of the race, which had Suozzi up 3, 4, 3, and 3 points. Given that the margin of error for these polls is generally around 4 points, it could go either way, although the district has a mild Democratic lean. The candidates were selected by the local parties, in accordance with New York law. There were no primaries. Having the Republicans pick a registered Democrat is, uh, unusual, but she has won local elections as a Republican.

One factor that could play a role is the state's governor, Kathy Hochul (D-NY). Suozzi ran against her in the gubernatorial primary in 2022. She most definitely did not appreciate that. They are not good buddies. Nevertheless, Hochul understands where things are and how important this special election is for the national Democrats, so this is no time for the bearing of grudges. Consequently, she is now supporting and actively campaigning for him. One issue of great concern to her is immigration, what with red state governors shipping busload after busload of undocumented immigrants to New York. She is a strong supporter of the defunct Senate border bill and so is Suozzi. In contrast, Pilip opposes the bill. Given the tiny margins in the House, the winner of the special election could cast the deciding vote on the next border bill to come up (if one does).

The race is important for reasons other than a potential deciding vote in House balloting. NY-03 is on Long Island and is a typical suburban district. The candidates are campaigning on issues that they think will play well in suburbia. The election is a real-life test in a bellwether district. Operatives in both parties are more than a tad interested in which issues were important and which were not and will undoubtedly be conducting exit polls to find out. As expected, abortion is a big deal in the district, but Pilip understands that if she said: "No abortions, ever, anywhere" she would lose by 20 points, so she is trying to hedge her bets by saying she is personally against abortion but doesn't want a national ban. Will anyone believe she would buck her party if Republicans were to bring up such a ban?

Also in play is the "George Santos" factor. He hoodwinked many voters in 2022. They are probably none too happy about that. He was a strange candidate, but a Black Jew from Ethiopia who served in the Israeli army is not exactly your generic suburban Republican, either.

In any case, Democrats really, really want this win. Beyond the extra vote against whatever Mike Johnson cooks up, the fact is that the blue team is running a veteran politician with wide name recognition, in a blue-ish district, against someone who most New Yorkers had never heard of a month ago. Oh, and the Democrats have spent millions more than the Republicans have. It would be quite embarrassing if Pilip pulled this one out.

Oddly enough, the results of the special election won't be of any use for the coming November, at least when it comes to the makeup of New York's House delegation. The Democratically controlled state legislature is champing at the bit to re-gerrymander the state now that liberal Democrats have a majority on the New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court. As a consequence, the map for November is likely to be quite different than the current one. That said, the results of the special election could affect the gerrymander. If Suozzi barely wins or if he loses, the legislators are going to make the district bluer by adding neighboring Democratic precincts and expelling red precincts. On the other hand, if Suozzi wins big, they might even remove some Democrats if they are needed to shore up some adjacent district. (V)

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