Media Said NY-03 Was A Heavy Lift For Dems, Then Suddenly It Was An Easy Win

Good news for Democrats:

Former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D) has won back his old seat in the House, giving Democrats a critical pickup that will further narrow the GOP House majority….

Suozzi defeated Republican Mazi Pilip in the special election to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. George Santos….

Suozzi won the race by 8 points. Polls showed him leading by 3 or 4 points.

Politico now suggests that a Suozzi win was all but inevitable:

Democrats had a slew of advantages in the race. A recent former incumbent with extremely high name ID in the most expensive media market in the country. A massive fundraising and spending advantage. A short six-week timeline that made it difficult for Republicans to catch up. And GOP groups that largely sat out the race for the first few weeks.

But that wasn’t what the press was saying before Election Day. On February 2, Politico published a story headlined “GOP Puts Dems on Defensive Over Border Security in Bellwether Special Election”:

… between the surge of migrants to New York City — more than 170,000 since April 2022 — and the infrastructure of the hyper-organized Nassau County Republican Committee, Democrats find themselves on the defensive.

“This is our seat to win,” Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, a Nassau County Republican, said in an interview….

So far, Democrats are showing caution as Republicans are projecting confidence — especially around border politics.

“I will work to stop Joe Biden and Tom Suozzi’s sanctuary city policies and secure our border and invest in our brave ICE agents,” Pilip pledged….

Her campaign’s first three TV ads have featured juxtaposed images of Suozzi, Biden and masses of migrants on the move at the Southern border. An ad push by the House GOP super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund also capitalizes on migrant crisis backlash.

There’s good reason for that: An Emerson College/PIX11 poll found 26 percent of voters in the district listed immigration as their top concern….

Republicans have an easier task.

They must persuade voters concerned enough to head to the polls in a typically low-turnout special election that they have a better handle over the migrant crisis….

Democrats, by contrast, are on the defensive.

They must juggle acknowledging the gravity of the situation while calling out the GOP on leveraging it for political gain — and do both without undermining the president.

Under the headline “In the Land of George Santos, Machine Politics Fuels a G.O.P. Revival,” a pre-election New York Times story touted the awesomeness of the local Republican political operation:

After decades of electoral losses and corruption scandals, the organization has roared back to life in the New York City suburbs….

In just the last three years, Republicans have swept every major office in the county, filling high-profile posts and hundreds of patronage jobs with party regulars often obliged to return the favor come campaign season….

One need only drive the streets of Levittown or Glen Cove on Long Island to understand the party’s reach. On any given Saturday, some of the 2,000 local Republican committeemen — many of them taking time off from plum government jobs — have fanned out to pull out the vote door by door….

It is the kind of organized force that has made the group perhaps the most powerful remaining political machine in the country….

CNN’s pre-election headline was “New York Democrats Are Worried About Tuesday’s Special Election. They Have Good Reason to Be”:

“Long Island is running hot, and when people run hot, they run Republican,” said Alyssa Cass, a Democratic strategist. “George Santos was not an accident. His election was the direct result of years and years of careful Republican recruitment, party building and outreach in Long Island.”

… Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer lost the county while otherwise cruising to reelection in 2022. The year before, Democrat Laura Curran, the top official in Nassau County, was ousted by Republican Bruce Blakeman. GOP gains continued into 2023 – well after the Santos fiasco was in full flight – and Republicans are now close to dominant in local offices.

And a local news site called City and State New York asked, “Can Tom Suozzi Win in an Increasingly Conservative Long Island?”

Nassau County has a Republican executive, Bruce Blakeman, whose spokesperson said he plans to be heavily involved in the race. Nassau County’s other member of Congress, Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, attended Pilip’s launch event and will likely be involved in get-out-the-vote efforts ahead of his own race later this year. Popular and influential Republicans former U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato and former Rep. Pete King also came out for Pilip’s first campaign event, a show of force of the strength of the Republican brand on Long Island.

It’s a stark contrast to Suozzi’s own launch event roughly a week earlier. His rally featured no other current or former Democratic officials….

The Democratic brand on Long Island, strongly associated with perceived harmful policies coming out of Albany and Washington, D.C., is considered by some to be practically toxic.

The pre-election stories did acknowledge Suozzi’s much higher name recognition and the national Democratic Party’s strong commitment to the race, but there was a clear suggestion in those stories that the district is now solidly Republican, with a much stronger Republican political apparatus.

Yet now that the Democrats have won and beaten the polls, the victory seems to be no big deal. Funny how that works.

Published with permission from No More Mister Nice Blog

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