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Phoenix political consultant says gun violence could impact the outcome of midterm elections

Recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas have renewed focus on talks of gun control ahead of the August midterm elections in Arizona.

Paul Bentz is with the Phoenix-based political consulting firm Highground. He says despite this renewed focus, there are still other topics at the top of voters’ minds — such as education, abortion and the economy.

“The challenge is, which ones will rise to the top of mind when it comes to voters. It’s not clear at this point if gun issues will be the number one item that voters are using to determine who they want to vote for,” said Bentz.

Bentz also says his firm’s polling from the 2020 election cycle showed bipartisan support for two gun control measures: universal background checks and red flag laws.

He says although some issues may be at the front of voters’ minds now, there’s still a lot that can change between now and November. Political consultants anticipate something called an October surprise, a major news event that can influence the outcome of the November election.

“If the October surprise was gun-related, it certainly would drive the narrative,” said Bentz.

Bentz says he is paying special attention to Arizona’s independent voters, who will make up about 26% of the electorate in November’s election.

Vaughan Jones is the weekend reporter for KJZZ, and a graduate of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism, with a minor in music. As a Phoenix native, Jones’s dream is to serve his community by covering important stories in the metropolitan area.He spent two years as music director at Blaze Radio, ASU’s student-run radio station. His passion for radio stems from joining Blaze his freshman year as a DJ.When he is not working, Jones can be found writing music with his band, playing video games with his friends, or watching his favorite Phoenix-area sports teams.