By a 6-1 ratio, voters in Rep. George Santos’ congressional district want him to resign since his lies about his education, family history and work profile have been revealed, according to a new Newsday/Siena College poll.
By a nearly 5-1 ratio, constituents say the Republican congressman cannot be an effective representative. Two of every three people who voted for him say they wouldn’t have if they knew then what they know now.
Further, in a district where prominent Republicans get good ratings and prominent Democrats don’t, an astounding 83% of his constituents view Santos unfavorably compared with 7% favorably.
That’s a rating Siena pollster Don Levy said compares to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's after the invasion of Ukraine.
WHAT TO KNOW
- Seventy-eight percent of residents of Rep. George Santos’ congressional district want him to resign since his lies about his education and work profile have been revealed, according to a Newsday/Siena College poll.
- Two of every three people who voted for him say they wouldn’t have if they knew then what they know now, the poll found.
- Eighty-three percent of his constituents view Santos unfavorably compared with 7% favorably.
Those are some of the highlights of a survey Siena conducted on behalf of Newsday of residents of the 3rd Congressional District, which covers a large swath of Nassau County and parts of northeast Queens County.
Santos, who was largely unknown at the time, defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman, 55% to 45%, to win the seat last fall, a victory largely attributed to the coattails of Lee Zeldin, the GOP gubernatorial candidate who carried 57% of the district.
Since then, large swaths of Santos’ resume have been shown to be fabricated, as first reported by the New York Times. Multiple federal, state, local and congressional probes are underway.
In the meantime, the new poll shows constituents have turned on Santos.
“The district has buyer’s remorse — big time. Big time,” Levy, director of the Siena Research Institute, told Newsday.
“How unique is it for someone to go from completely unknown to well known and so strongly disliked?” said Levy, noting that 81% of residents say they are closely following the news about Santos closely, a “dramatically high” number.
“It’s exceptional to see that level of recognition and that level of distaste,” Levy said. “That, to me, is striking.”
Among the findings:
- 78% of registered voters say Santos should resign; 13% said he should stay in office. Even among Republicans, 71% said he should resign while just 18% said stay.
- 75% said he cannot be an effective representative; 16% said he could.
- 71% said he shouldn’t have been seated on congressional committees; 17% said he should.
- 63% of those who said they voted for Santos say they wouldn’t have if they knew then what they know now; 31% said they would still vote for him.
- The survey indicates residents aren’t blaming Republicans, just Santos: 55% said Santos doesn’t reflect the values of the GOP, 32% said he does.
The Siena poll was conducted Jan. 23-26, among 653 registered voters in the 3rd Congressional District and weighted to reflect geographic and party patterns. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Some residents who voted for Santos told Newsday they did so merely because they backed Zeldin, backed the entire GOP ticket or wanted Republicans to control Congress.
Jillian O’Connor, 42, a Mineola Republican, said she “felt completely misled.” She wants him to resign.
“The arrogance and just the lack of judgment and pushing to see how far he could go makes me feel that, as a Republican, voting for him was a joke,” O’Connor said. “It seems like he was putting on a show, setting an example of what you can do if you cheat and lie from the beginning.”
Asked if Santos reflected the party’s values, O’Connor said: “He will pretend to reflect any values he thinks will work for him.”
She said she has gotten into arguments with fellow Republicans about wanting Santos resign, but she believes he is “insulting” the party.
“We should be better than this,” O’Connor said.
“I am embarrassed to say I should have concentrated more on the local elections. I just voted across party lines,” said Evangeline Kohn, 68, a Bayville Republican. “I say this in an embarrassed way: I don’t really know what he stood for.”
But she stopped short of calling for his resignation.
“At this point, just let him finish out his term. No one’s ever going to vote for him again,” Kohn said.
Independents and Democrats interviewed by Newsday were even harsher.
“I can’t stand looking at his face when he’s on TV,” said Nicole Bruno, 56, a Manhasset resident not enrolled in a major party. “I don’t think he stands for anything but himself. Whatever can get him elected is what he is going to say, obviously. I don’t even think he believes why he’s there — I think he just wants the notoriety.”
She said she is following the story with disgust. “Everyday, I read everything about him and I watch every news story about him and I think he’s a clown,” said Bruno, who didn’t vote for Santos and wants him to resign. “I know all politicians lie and embellish, but he’s lied about every single thing.”
Allen Michaels, 31, a Great Neck resident not enrolled in a major party, said that any other person caught lying in a job application would be fired — an analogy used by several respondents who talked to Newsday. He said Santos should resign.
“Here is a clear case of a guy who is not there to represent the people, if he lied so much just to get elected,” Michaels said. “I don’t remember anything he said that was true.”
If Santos resigns, a new election would be held for the office with parties getting to nominate new candidates. Michaels said it’s “very sad” that some want Santos to stay in office just because they back the party.
“They don’t care the guy has no integrity, has no morals,” Michaels said.
Lorraine Bernstein, a 75-year-old Bayside Democrat who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, said the “whole situation is very difficult and very sad.”
She said Santos hurts the Republican Party, should resign and cannot be effective “and it’s his own fault because I don’t think people are going to work with him.”
Santos lied about attending college at all, working for big-name Wall Street companies, being a volleyball star, being Jewish, having grandparents who escaped the Holocaust and losing his mother to the 9/11 attacks.
He’s under scrutiny for statements he had to file during the campaign, attesting that his income leapt from $55,000 to $750,000 in one year and claiming, initially, that he personally lent his campaign $705,000. It’s sparked accusations that Santos may have illegally funneled money to his campaign.
The U.S. Justice Department, the Federal Election Commission, the U.S. House Ethics Committee, the state attorney general and Nassau County district attorney are actively reviewing the issue or have been asked to review. Further, Santos possibly is facing revived charges in Brazil, where he once lived, over the use of a stolen checkbook to purchase goods.
Santos has resisted widespread calls for his resignation. He said he merely embellished his resume and broadly maintained his innocence regarding other allegations, saying: “I’m not a fraud.”
Among the related questions Siena surveyed, 93% said if a politician is exposed for lying, he or she should admit wrongdoing. Just 4% said the politician should say the “lie was really no big thing.”
Yet, they are pessimistic about what actually happens in such situations: 84% said public figures today are more likely to “minimize and blame others” when caught lying. Just 12% said public figures are likely to take responsibility.
Perhaps as a related result, 77% said they agreed with the statement that Santos’ behavior and refusal to resign shows “our political system is broken.” Just 12% said the Santos issue was a one-of-a-kind event that says little about the state of politics.
“Obviously, it’s an indictment of how public figures and politicians are handling this,” Levy said, later adding: “Is it embarrassing? Is it disheartening? Is it disillusioning? It’s somewhat all of those.”