George Santos is now more well-known than every top House Republican besides Kevin McCarthy
Rep. George Santos' endless stream of scandals have left a mark with Americans.
According to a new poll, Santos is now more well known than most of the top House Republican leaders.
Even back in New York, the Republican is more recognizable than some of his more powerful counterparts.
Scandal-plagued Rep. George Santos' endless stream of unflattering stories has catapulted the New York Republican out of obscurity and alongside some of the most powerful names in the nation's capital.
No, this isn't another line in the fabulist's resume. The media focus on the 34-year-old has left an impression in Americans' minds, even as he has begun to really annoy some of his colleagues.
According to an Economist/YouGov poll, more people know who the freshman lawmaker is than all but one member of House Republican leadership — you know, the people with actual power. Santos' budding infamy is so dominant that he has easily surpassed Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams in national notoriety.
Americans' awareness of its leaders is often represented by how many poll respondents that register an opinion on the subject in question.
According to the poll of American adults, more people have views on Santos than House Majority Leader Steve Scalise or House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, the No. 2 and No. 3 House Republicans respectively. The most powerful Congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, were still more well known, though not by much.
Being well-known doesn't mean Santos is well-liked. According to the poll, Santos is viewed more unfavorably than any congressional leader. Nationally, he has a whopping negative 38 percentage net point favorability rating.
Santos' every move in the Capitol is chronicled by reporters so eager to hear his reaction to the latest claim that there are cameras stationed outside his office. He hasn't been in office for a month, and already four different comedians have impersonated him, incusing one on Saturday Night Live.
This star power sugar high also underlines a growing tension.
Some of the most powerful American leaders have spent more time in power than Santos has even been alive. Their longevity is a testament to an age where power was slowly accrued by those who simply outlasted those who came before them.
Additional polls also point to Santos' rapidly expanding profile. Navigator research found Americans were more familiar with him than Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the newly-named chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee. The trend includes his fellow New Yorkers. A recent Siena College poll found that by a large margin more people in the state had heard of Santos than House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, the history-making Brooklynite who now leads House Democrats.
Freshmen lawmakers can raise more money than top party leaders. Their arrival has brought record diversity to halls of power that sorely lacked it. The cascading effects of social media, online campaign fundraising, and the current political moment have made it easier for relatively powerless lawmakers to have enormous effects on the political debate.
It has also left Congress vulnerable to the exact type of candidate George Santos turned out to be.
The Economist/YouGov online poll interviewed 1,500 Americans age 18 or older from January 21-24. The overall sample has a +/- 3.2% margin of error. You can read the entire methodology and all of the poll's crosstabs here.
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