Has the GOP Lost Arizona for Good?
Senator Kyrsten Sinema caused a stir last year when she left the Democratic Party and declared herself an independent. Her move set the stage for a compelling election contest in 2024. If she runs for reelection, it will set up a three-way race between her, the Democratic Party nominee, and a Republican candidate.
This seemed to offer the GOP an advantage. But that may have been a mirage, and some Republicans are understandably anxious that they may once again lose the chance to regain the seat, just as they did in the previous election cycle.
According to a survey by Blueprint Polling from January, Kari Lake barely wins a hypothetical three-way Arizona Senate race with Rep. Ruben Gallego (D) and Sinema (I). Lake got 35.7% of the vote, with Gallego closely following with 31.9%. Sinema lagged far behind with 13.8%, and 18.6% of respondents were undecided.
For a traditionally red state, Lake only barely edging out Gallego, who has already entered the race, is highly concerning.
Sadly, the numbers have gotten worse.
According to polling from OH Predictive Insights last month, Gallego now leads all his potential competitors in head-to-head matchups. That includes three-way races with Sinema and two-way races without.
“What I take away from this data is that the two key factors in this Senate race will be the ‘style’ of Republican nominated to run and whether Sinema is also on the ballot,” said Mike Noble, the Chief of Research at Ohio Predictive Insights. “But, there’s a long time between now and election day, which leaves plenty of opportunity for something to happen that can shift the dynamics of this race.”
Gallego is also the only candidate with a net positive favorability.
“Since the midterms, Lake and Masters’ images have taken a real hit among the all-important Independent voters,” Noble explains. “Being well-liked is truly half the battle, but the best bet for any potential candidate to stay competitive in the coming election is to continue capturing more support from Arizona’s influential Independents.”
Does this mean that Arizona is lost? Not necessarily. The reality is that what was once a solidly red state has now transformed into a battleground state. To prevent Arizona from shifting towards a permanent blue state, Arizona Republicans must acknowledge political realities and nominate candidates capable of winning a general election. If they refuse to do so, Arizona's fate is sealed, and it will eventually become another Democratic stronghold.