The “scandal penalty” is not universal: in the two dozen elections that fit this description, the party responsible for the resignation actually preempted the previous election about a third of the time. But most of the time, voters know why special elections are held and punish the party responsible for them.

And sometimes, those who resign in disgrace see their districts flip to the other party after leaving office during their terms. This includes those who resigned after being convicted of vehicular manslaughter, posting a shirtless photo of themselves on Craigslist, and participating in a “crew” with her husband and a former campaign staffer.

This record could cause problems for Pilip and explains why Suozzi refers to her as “George Santos 2.0” in the final days of the race.

Santos won the 2022 election over Democrat Robert Zimmerman by 8 percentage points. The average penalty for scandal this century would result in a near tie between Suozzi and Pilip.

Republicans acknowledge that the Santos scandal could hurt Pilip, but say voters’ concerns about crime and immigration are having a bigger impact on the race.

“We should not have a chance in this seat after Santos in (District President Joe Biden won by 8 points), running against a former incumbent,” said Dan Conston, president of the Republican super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund. of the House of Representatives. “And we do it a lot, and it’s because of the power of our message.”

Since 2000, 24 special elections have been held following the resignation of members embroiled in a major scandal. Of those, 21 involved contested races between the two major parties with a comparable general election before the resignation.

In 13 of the 21, the party affiliated with the scandal performed worse in the special election than in the previous general election. And in most of those eight cases where the special election candidate did better than the previous incumbent, the scandal was already public in the general election, likely dragging the numbers down.

The most recent special election on the slate was in June 2022 in Nebraska, following the resignation of Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry following a criminal conviction for campaign finance violations. (Fortenberry’s conviction has since been overturned on appeal.)

Fortenberry had defeated his Democratic opponent in 2020 by 22 percentage points. But now-Rep. Mike flood (R-Neb.) only won the 2022 special election by 5 points, a 16-point drop

In recent years there have been even greater changes. In April 2018, the now Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) won a special election by 5 points to replace former Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who resigned after ethics complaints that he had asked several staffers to be surrogates to carry a pregnancy for him and his wife. But Franks had won the seat in 2016 by 37 points, a difference of 32 points.

New York is no stranger to special elections that turn wildly after a scandal. When Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned in 2011 after posting a graphic photograph on the website then known as Twitter, Republicans flipped his Queens district and Brooklyn House, and the GOP’s Bob Turner won a special election by 5 points, even after having lost to Weiner 10 months earlier by a whopping 22 points.

And Kathy Hochul, the state governor who defeated Suozzi in the 2022 gubernatorial primary that led to his departure from Congress, won a special House election in 2011 by 5 points, replacing Republican Christopher Lee, the selfie-less Republican. shirt, despite Lee’s 47 points. -point victory in the 2010 Republican elections.

The biggest change since 2000 came in the Pittsburgh suburbs in 2018, when Democrat Conor Lamb won a closely contested special election by about three-tenths of a percentage point to replace former Republican Rep. Tim Murphy, who resigned the previous year after being accused. of suggesting to his then lover that she have an abortion. This seat was not included in our analysis because it was so predominantly Republican that Democrats did not even field a candidate against Murphy in either 2014 or 2016.

There are other races on this list following headline-grabbing resignations in which the opposing party ran stronger in special elections to replace them. That includes after Republican Blake Farenthold of Texas, of “duck pajama” infamy, resigned following sexual harassment and campaign finance violations. Republican Aaron Schock of Illinois was investigated for abuse of mileage reimbursement funds and known for redecorating his office in the style of the British drama “Downton Abbey.” Democrat Eric Massa of New York admitted to touching and tickling an employee.

The Santos scandal (he is accused of a series of frauds, fabrications and campaign finance violations) is certainly as egregious as any of them. And unlike the other special elections, this one occurs because Santos was expelled from the House after refusing to resign.

Of course, the scandal does not predetermine the outcome, and there are many other factors in this race, including a snowstorm that could affect participation.

What we do know is this: there is a penalty for scandal in modern elections. We will soon know whether voters will make Pilip pay for it.

By Sam