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A New York snowstorm is set to play a deciding factor in whether the GOP's narrow House majority shrinks even more

New York snow
A winter snowstorm in New York could cause some voters to skip voting in a special election being held to replace Republican Rep. George Santos. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images
  • Long Island is holding a special election to replace former Rep. George Santos' House seat.

  • Polling has been tight but has shown Democratic candidate Tom Suozzi with a slight lead.

  • Several inches of predicted snowfall on Tuesday, however, could tamper turnout.

As voters in New York's 3rd Congressional District cast their votes in Tuesday's special election, heavy snowfall across the region may play a key role in downsizing the Republican Party's already narrow House majority.

The 3rd district's seat, representing part of Queens and Long Island, is currently vacant after a majority of the House voted to expel Republican former Rep. George Santos in early December 2023. Democratic former Rep. Tom Suozzi, who previously represented the district, is now competing against Republican Mazip Pilip to fill the role for the remainder of the congressional session.

In the weeks leading up to the special election, polling indicated that Suozzi appeared to possess a 4 percentage point advantage over Pilip. The inclement weather, however, could hinder Tuesday's turnout for either candidate.

In 2007, a group of researchers reported in "The Journal of Politics" that "compared to normal conditions, rain significantly reduces voter participation by a rate of just less than 1% per inch, while an inch of snowfall decreases turnout by almost 5%."

With this in mind, turnout on Tuesday may be even lower than expected. Politico reported on February 10 that Suozzi, at the time, possessed a lead in reported early votes. If the snowy, icy conditions persist, Suozzi could have an even greater advantage if voters either struggle to make it to the polls or simply don't want to step outside.

Nevertheless, there's still hope for Pilip and the Republican Party: the aforementioned research report also noted that "poor weather" tends to benefit the GOP more than Democrats.

Mike Johnson
Speaker of the House Mike JohnsonBill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

A uniquely impactful special election

With 435 members in the House of Representatives, special elections aren't rare in the chamber to replace an unfilled seat after a member retires or dies while in office.

The circumstances behind New York's 3rd Congressional District vacancy are quite different, originating from Santos becoming the sixth member ever to get booted from office and the first without initially being convicted or having been a member of the Confederacy.

Additionally, party majorities in the House are typically much greater than its current balance, where Republicans need to coerce virtually every one of its members into voting in lockstep to pass anything without help from Democrats.

A Pilip victory would give the GOP a bit more breathing room in passing legislation, and allow the party to be one vote closer to possibly impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, which narrowly failed on the House floor earlier in February.

Conversely, Suozzi picking up the seat would also present a good omen for the Democratic Party ahead of the 2024 election after it previously lost its grip on the district in the 2022 midterm elections.

Read the original article on Business Insider