Arizona is a battleground state

As September is nearing an end, temperatures may be cooling off, but the election is only just heating up. For the first time in a generation, all eyes are on Arizona as the state gears up to decide whether to award its 11 electoral votes to incumbent President Donald Trump or his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.The constant media attention, candidate visits, and the tidal wave of political advertisements blanketing the airwaves, occupying street corners, and filling mailboxes is a new experience for Arizona voters. Once a ruby-red Republican stronghold, neither party put much effort into winning Arizona — Republicans knew they had the state ‘in the bag,’ and Democrats considered it a lost cause. However, changing attitudes within the state’s large suburban population have made 2020 Democrats’ best opportunity to perform well up and down the ballot.

With the “Battleground State” label that has been thrust upon Arizona this cycle, comes an incredible amount of broadcast spending on advertising by candidates of all types, national party committees, outside PACs, and countless other groups trying to convince voters to pick ‘their team.’ 

What does this mean for brands who are counting on having their own advertisements airing while the candidates are duking it out in the background? Broadcasters’ ad slots are going to fill up and fill up quickly. 

In the Phoenix media market alone, ad-tracking company Advertising Analytics forecasts more than $218 million will be spent on political broadcast advertising this election cycle. That astronomical amount is higher than is forecasted to be spent in any other media market in the country. 

That prediction is already beginning to come to fruition. From Jan. 1 to Aug. 8, 2020, the Trump and Biden campaigns have spent a combined $8.6 million in the market. Including ad spending by outside groups, that number rises to $12.6 million spent just on the Presidential Race.

Arizona has another hotly-contested election on the ballot in November: a U.S. Senate seat. Control for the Senate is up in the air this cycle as Republicans try to retain control of a chamber they have held since 2014. Democrats’ path to a majority runs directly through the Grand Canyon State. 

In this race, appointed-incumbent Senator Martha McSally is attempting to hold off Democrat Mark Kelly. Both of these candidates are fundraising behemoths, regularly appearing among the top 10 Senate candidates when campaigns file their finance reports every quarter. 

Because both McSally and Kelly are flush with cash and given that COVID-19 has limited any candidate’s ability to campaign in-person, these two (as well as outside groups) have been pumping millions of dollars into broadcast advertising. Neither of these candidates appear to be slowing down any time soon.

Over the first seven and a half months of 2020 (from Jan. 1 to Aug. 8) the McSally and Kelly campaigns spent almost $10 million dollars in the Phoenix media market. When including all Senate spending (not just that spent by the two campaigns) the total nearly doubles to $18.4 million.

With these sums of money in mind, brands need to be thoughtful and act intentionally when putting up advertising in Phoenix between now and November. Your advertisement might be the only non-political ad that a viewer sees in any given commercial break. With that being said, it is absolutely essential that your ads are memorable and can keep your audience intrigued. With so much competition it’s unlikely that your viewers will see your ad often, so it’s time to get creative and think bigger than ever before.

About the Author: Mike Noble is the Chief of Research & Managing Partner of OH Predictive Insights (OHPI). A Milwaukee native, Mike, and his parents moved to the warmer climate of Phoenix when he was a child, and he never left. Mike graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Communications. After college, Mike found his passion in politics. He went to work for a congressman before starting his polling and consulting firm. Since then, Mike has become one of the top pollsters in the West, working with clients mostly in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. You can catch Mike often in the LA Times, the Wall Street Journal, and every local media outlet in Phoenix and Tucson. He and his wife, Rebecca, have an adorable French Bulldog (Frenchie) named Charlotte and twin boys, Tommy & Teddy. 

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