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Arizona will be No. 2 in the U.S. in spending on the 2024 election, a new report says

Arizonans should brace themselves to be inundated with campaign advertising between now and the November 2024 election.

A new report by AdImpact predicts candidates and issues will shell out more than $820 million this campaign cycle to reach Arizona voters. That’s a 64% increase from the 2020 election cycle.

It’s also second to only California where AdImpact pegs political spending at close to $1.2 billion.

But Arizona pollster Mike Noble points out that it costs a lot more to buy commercials in California.

That means a dollar goes farther in Arizona. More to the point, he figures that $820 million will buy a lot more air time here than the $1.2 billion that will be spent by our neighbor to the west.

“You’re going to get crushed with ads,” Noble told Capitol Media Services. “No doubt about it.”

In some ways, he said, the numbers are no surprise.

“At the end of the day, if you want to look at where the fights are happening, where there’s competitiveness, look no further: Where are they spending the money,” Noble said.

Much of the spending is anticipated to be in the presidential race, with Arizona anticipated to be one of a handful of battlegrounds. Democrat Joe Biden won the state’s 11 electoral votes in 2020 by besting Donald Trump by just 10,547 votes out of more than 2.5 million ballots cast.

AdImpact figures a $137 million increase in Arizona from what the presidential campaigns spent here the last time.

One thing that is likely to cause the parties to focus their dollars more on Arizona and some other states is that they will be spending less in Florida — a lot less. AdImpact anticipates presidential campaign advertising there to $269 million less than candidates spent there four years ago.

The reason, according to the report, is that state’s shift in the past four years to the right will cause both campaigns to decide their dollars are better spent elsewhere.

But the focus on Arizona is expected to go beyond this state’s role in deciding who gets to sit in the White House for the next four years. What also is at play is who will control the U.S. Senate which now has just 50 Democrats — 51 if you count Democrat-turned-independent Kyrsten Sinema — out of the 100 seats.

Sinema hasn’t said whether she’s going to seek another six year term. But she is putting out press releases — and raising money — like someone who is not ready to give up her seat. As of the most recent report, she has a warchest of $10.8 million.

At the same time, Democrat Ruben Gallego has amassed about $3.8 million.

Then there’s the whole question of who the Republicans will nominate.

Kari Lake, who has hinted broadly at her interest in the Senate — assuming she accepts that she wasn’t elected governor in 2022 — has a national network to raise funds if she wants, along with the presumable support of Trump.

Blake Masters hasn’t decided whether to get in. But Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb is in the race, though he has raised only about $355,000.

“Arizona looks likely to be the most expensive Senate race of the cycle,” the report says. “In recent years, it has hinged on razor-thin margins, contains one of the most expensive markets in the country, and it expected to have competitive primaries on both sides of the aisle.”

Overall, AdImpact figures total spending in Senate races should reach about $2.1 billion in the 33 states where there are contests.

All 435 seats in the U.S. House — and all nine in Arizona — are up for grabs. Noble said he expects heavy spending in the bid by Republican David Schweikert to hang on to his seat, saying Democrats could see a chance to pick him off.

On top of that, of course, is the fact that all 30 seats in the state Senate are up for grabs as are the 60 House seats. And with Republicans having just a two-vote edge in each chamber, they are likely to focus on protecting a handful of potentially vulnerable seats.

What also is likely to flood the airwaves are commercials over two very high-profile ballot measures.

Arizona is expected to be one of a handful of states where voters are being asked to enshrine the right to abortion in the state Constitution after the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned Roe v. Wade which had guaranteed it on a federal level.

Jodi Liggett, senior advisor for NARAL Arizona, said there is positive polling for the measure which would create an unrestricted right prior to fetal viability — about 22 to 24 weeks — and a more limited right beyond that tied to the “good faith judgment” of a treating health care professional that terminating the pregnancy “is necessary to protect the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant individual.”

But even with public sentiment, she predicts it will cost between $40 million and $50 million not only to get the 383,923 valid signatures by July 3 to get the measure on the 2024 ballot but also to run the kind of campaign necessary.

AdImpact reports that backers of a similar ballot measure in Ohio already have spent more than $30 million.

Look for heavy spending by foes. And Noble said that, given the interest in this issue, dollars should be pouring in from outside of Arizona.

A newly launched initiative to scrap partisan primaries also is likely to prove costly.

“The national interest has never been greater when it comes to Arizona,” Noble said.

AdImpact said the signs already are there for record-setting election spending.

As of last month — more than a year before the general election — candidates and issues already had spent $652 million. That compares with $371 million the same time four years ago.

On a national level, AdImpact figures that of the $10.2 billion that will be spent this election cycle, fully half of that will end up on broadcast television. Look for another $2.1 billion paid to cable TV outlets.