Most Americans think George Santos should resign his seat in Congress

May 15, 2023, 4:28 PM GMT+0

Congressman George Santos, the Republican representative for New York’s third congressional district, has been a polarizing figure since taking office in January as doubts emerged about his claims about his past.

January YouGov polling showed that Santos had a net favorability of -30, meaning the share of Americans who viewed him very or somewhat unfavorably was 30 percentage points higher than the share who viewed him very or somewhat favorably. Even Republicans were more likely to view him unfavorably than favorably, by 38% to 21%. Most Americans – including 52% of Republicans – wanted him to resign. He did not. However, last week federal prosecutors charged Santos with seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, two counts of false statements to the House of Representatives, and one count of unlawfully claiming employment benefits. Santos has pleaded not guilty and is out on bond while awaiting trial.

Last week, YouGov asked 7,677 Americans how likely they thought it was that George Santos committed crimes in the case, how likely they thought he was to be convicted, and whether he should resign.

About three-quarters of Americans (74%) lean on the side of believing that George Santos committed a crime in the case described, with about one-half (49%) believing it to be very likely, and another one-quarter believing it to be somewhat likely. About one in 10 Americans (9%) are on the other side of the fence. Almost nine in 10 (87%) Democrats find it likely that Santos committed one of the crimes, including 64% who find it very likely. Even among Republicans, 71% believe that Santos committed a crime in this case, including 46% who find it very likely; just 12% find it unlikely.

When asked about a potential Santos conviction, Americans are a bit more split. Approximately two-thirds (63%) of Americans think Santos will likely be convicted, split about 50-50 between those who find it very likely and those who find it somewhat likely. Democrats are a bit more convinced, with almost three-quarters (74%) believing a conviction is at least somewhat likely. As for Republicans, 62% believe the same. Republicans may be less likely to believe that Santos will be convicted because they are less likely to believe he has committed a crime.

Our latest poll finds that Santos remains extremely unpopular. Over three-quarters (78%) of Democrats believe that Santos should resign his seat in the House of Representatives. This is to be expected, as Santos’s position in Congress is detrimental to the passage of bills that most Democrats would support, and a special election in New York’s third congressional district has a good chance of resulting in a Democratic victory: The district voted for Joe Biden by 9 percentage points in the 2020 election. The fact that more than half of Republicans believe that Santos should resign regardless of whether he is convicted — 55% in favor and 22% against — is more surprising, since his departure from the House could impede Republican legislative priorities.

Even people who don’t think that Santos will be convicted are more likely to support than oppose his resignation — by 57% to 21% for those who believe his conviction is not very likely, and by 50% to 30% for those who believe his conviction is not likely at all.

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