Arizona to reach new peak in political importance during 2024 election cycle

Nov 6, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: Nov 7, 2023, 8:31 am

This is the first in a five-part series called “Arizona Votes 2024: One Year Out,” examining the lead-up to the upcoming election in Arizona.

PHOENIX — Arizona has been a political player for years, but the 2024 election cycle could take the once Republican-heavy state to new heights in terms of its importance.

The Grand Canyon State could have the most impact in determining the presidential race and the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

Longtime Valley political expert and former state lawmaker Stan Barnes of Copper State Consulting Group says it might seem that Arizona is patting itself on the back when it comes to political importance, but believes the state has arrived at a pivotal moment.

“Some of it in the past I felt was a little fluffed up but now I believe we’re everything we say we are,” Barnes said.

Mike Noble, chief of research for Noble Predictive Insights, says Arizona is at its political apex not only for the direction the state goes but also the direction of the country.

“It’s a great time to be alive for Arizona politics,” Noble said.

What effect will the U.S. Senate race in Arizona have?

The race for the U.S. Senate seat will be what really puts Arizona in the national spotlight. It includes Republican Kari Lake, who narrowly lost in the 2022 gubernatorial race, and Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego, a Democrat. U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a longtime Democrat turned Independent, hasn’t announced if she will seek reelection.

Barnes believes all three of them can raise enormous amounts of money. He can’t imagine a more perfect political science experiment than all three of them going head-to-head.

“They’re each a big personality,” Barnes said. “They each have a grasp of their own constituency and can raise tons of money to sell their story.

“The kicker for me is that for all of my political life, people gripe about partisan politics and we’re about to prove if that’s just griping or is real.”

Arizona will be a leader in political spending

AdImpact is projecting a whopping $821 million in broadcast political ad spending in Arizona for the election cycle. That’s a 64% jump from the cycle leading up to the 2022 races in Arizona and second behind only California.

Noble said Arizona could ultimately decide who is going to lead the country and the barrage of political ads coming at you for the next year will be inescapable.

“Arizona and the nation are at a crossroads right now,” Noble said. “It’s a unique opportunity for Arizonans to have a front row seat to as much political action than they could ever hope for, so grab your popcorn and enjoy.

When you follow the money, even just 5-6 years ago, you saw very little money but we’ve seen a steady increase with the suburban shift, population growth, etc. Arizona is unequivocally a battleground. Just look at the state. We haven’t had two Democrats in the U.S. Senate and the governor’s office in decades.”

Barnes adds that even if you don’t like politics, that doesn’t mean politics doesn’t like you. You won’t be able to outrun the ads coming your way incessantly.

“Boy, it’s going to be interesting,” Barnes said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

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Arizona to reach new peak in political importance during 2024 election cycle