Tom Suozzi and Mazi Melesa Pilip, the two candidates vying in a Long Island special election to fill ex-Rep. George Santos’ seat, are vowing to pull out all the stops to win despite an impending major snowstorm that could have a dramatic impact on Tuesday’s hotly contested race.
With an estimated 8 inches of snow expected to fall in the New York City area, Democrat Suozzi and his opponent Pilip, who’s running on the Republican line, are hoping to make sure their supporters brave the bad weather to vote in person on Election Day. The race has been characterized as having serious implications for Congress and a preview of what will drive voters to the polls in November.
“We have very good early return results in the early voting and the absentee ballots, and it looks like the weather gets better later in the day,” Suozzi told reporters at a campaign stop at a bakery in Glen Cove.
Despite the predicted worst snowstorm in two years, Republicans may benefit from the vaunted Nassau County Republican Party organization, which has been known to drive higher turnout among its loyal supporters for years in good weather and bad.
“Nassau Republicans are energized and eager to support Mazi in this special election,” said Brian Devine, a spokesman for Pilip. “We are confident that regardless of the forecasted weather, our people will flock to the polls and send Mazi to Washington, D.C.”
Neither campaign shared details about their get out the vote plans, but insisted they would be ready. Nassau Republicans in particularly have mounted an aggressive door-to-door campaign to encourage votes for Pilip, while Suozzi has leaned heavily on volunteers from local unions.
Suozzi and the Democrats have enjoyed a major advantage in TV ad spending but it remains to be seen if that translates into voters battling the snow to cast ballots for him.
Election officials say polls will be open as usual from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the 3rd Congressional District that spans the North Shore and a slice of northeast Queens.
Forecasters say the snow will start overnight and already be falling in earnest by dawn Tuesday when voting gets underway and will continue through the afternoon before the storm moves away later in the day.
Some analysts say the storm could give Suozzi an edge because more Democrats than Republicans banked their votes by already voting by mail or casting ballots during the nine days of in-person early voting.
Republicans, on the other hand, typically prefer to vote in person on Election Day, especially since the 2020 presidential election when former President Trump decried mail-in voting as a liberal scam and blamed his loss to President Biden in part on Democrats voting by mail during the COVID pandemic.
The snowstorm could weaken the Republican edge on Election Day if people are too busy trying to cope with shoveling their homes and cars out to go to the polls.
Public schools will be closed in New York City, potentially making it more difficult for parents to vote.
Estimates say Democrats had a 11% edge over Republicans among the nearly 50,000 voters who cast votes during the nine days of early voting, compared with a 7.8% edge in the 2020 race that Santos won in an upset.
Team Blue has a 29% edge among the 12,694 votes cast by absentee ballot, also slightly better than in 2022.
GOP-friendly analysts warn those figures don’t necessarily mean voters backed Suozzi. They also point out that Santos won by 7.5% despite not-dissimilar early vote numbers.
Independents make up nearly 30% of voters in the district, meaning they will likely determine the winner of Tuesday’s vote.