New York 3rd District special election: Suozzi projected to defeat Pilip for seat vacated by Santos

Democrats cut into Republicans’ already narrow House majority.

Democrat Tom Suozzi has won the special election in New York’s 3rd District, defeating Republican Mazi Pilip to flip a House seat from red to blue. (The seat was formerly held by Republican Rep. George Santos, who was expelled from Congress in December after a series of scandals.) As a result, Republicans’ already narrow House majority has been reduced to 219-213.

Throughout the night, 538 reporters, analysts and contributors have been live-blogging the results in real time and breaking down what (if anything) they mean for November. Read our full analysis below.

That’s a wrap!

As of 11:45 p.m., 97 percent of the expected vote is reporting in New York’s 3rd District, and Suozzi is leading Pilip 54 percent to 46 percent. Although that margin will probably narrow by a couple of points when all is said and done, it’s clear that Suozzi has scored a big win for Democrats that will have big implications both on Long Island and in Washington, D.C.

Rather than stay up for every last ballot to be counted (often a fool’s errand in New York), we’re calling it a night here on the ol’ live blog. Thanks so much for joining us, and we hope to see you back here for the South Carolina Republican primary on Saturday (😱), Feb. 24!

—Nathaniel Rakich, 538

Final thought: Biden's hopes rest on winning over those who don't like him but don't like Trump either

While Suozzi looks to be en route to a 6-to-7 point victory, it's pretty clear he won among an electorate that had an unfavorable view of Biden: 57 percent of likely voters had an unfavorable view of the president in a Siena College/Newsday survey of the special election, but Suozzi led by 4 points, not too different from his actual win. And revealingly, nearly one-fourth of Suozzi's supporters had an unfavorable view of Biden. Now, Suozzi has a long-established political profile on Long Island that likely won over some voters displeased with Biden. But at the same time, this suggests that Biden — despite his 38 percent approval rating — might still be able to win over some of the voters who are frustrated with the status quo, especially in a "choice" election between him and Trump.

I say this because we saw something like this in the 2022 midterm elections, when the exit poll found that Democrats narrowly won among those who somewhat disapproved of Biden's job performance. This was a notable shift from the 2010 and 2014 midterms, when those who somewhat disapproved of Barack Obama backed Republicans by some distance. Right now, Biden is running about even or even slightly behind Trump in the polls, so a major question will be whether some voters who are unhappy with Biden but voted for Democrats in recent elections might still go for him by the time we get to November.

—Geoffrey Skelley, 538

Final thought: Will moderation help Democrats outside New York?

In terms of what factors might actually externalize out of NY-03 tonight, I'd pick the durable appeal of the ideological moderate as a likely one. This is not the place to rehash the social science evidence for the benefits of ideological moderation in general elections, but note that Suozzi ran to the right of most Democrats on issues such as immigration and crime. These are issues that are particularly important to New Yorkers right now, but also relevant in other swing districts.

Abstracting from that, one piece of "News Analysis" (scare quotes intentional) is that much of the coverage of Joe Biden's potentially weakness versus Donald Trump in November has revolved around the president's weakness with lefty young voters over the situation in Israel-Gaza since October. And while that may end up proving consequential, an easier prediction is that Biden will suffer more if he is seen as a liberal ideologue.

—G. Elliott Morris, 538

Final thought: The country remains divided

Despite what looks to be a relatively comfortable win for Democrats tonight, our entire conversation tonight only emphasizes how closely the country is divided on partisan lines.

As Nathaniel said, Republicans have a razor thin majority in the House, and Democrats will be fighting to keep their majority in the Senate this fall. It's early, but we expect the presidential election to be close. Whatever happens in any individual race, politics in the country remains deeply divided. We'll keep seeing more evidence of that the closer we get to November.

—Monica Potts, 538

We do have precinct results! Sorta.

I spoke too soon about not having precinct results in the 3rd District. Ben Rosenblatt, a Democratic data guru in New York politics, is hosting a precinct map of the results on his website — though there's a question about whether Nassau County will make precinct-level data available at all. Still, the map of Queens is pretty!

—Nathaniel Rakich, 538