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January 24, 2012

WAP Guest Writer Mike O'Neil: "National Spotlight to Turn on Arizona: Four Reasons Why."

Political consultant and on-air commentator Mike O'Neil has written and talked about national politics for three decades. In this WAP guest post, he writes on why his adopted state of Arizona has become thrust into the national limelight.

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National Spotlight to Turn on Arizona: Here Are Four Reasons Why.

By Mike O'Neil

1. The Special Election for Gabrielle Giffords' seat may be a very early indicator for the mood of the entire country in 2012: The primary for the special election will be in April and the general special election will be in June. A vote in a tossup district with no incumbent in the middle of a Presidential election year? You don't get a better early indicator of the national mood than that.

2. The February 28 Arizona Presidential primary looks like it will matter--and there will be an extended period in the national limelight. In the week after the Florida primary, there are four caucuses. Then there are three weeks (February 8-27) with no primary or caucus. For those three weeks, Arizona and Michigan (that also has a primary on the 28th) should be a major focus of national attention.

3. President Obama is coming to Arizona tomorrow, Wednesday, January 25--the day after his State of the Union address. His trip also includes Iowa, Nevada, Colorado and Michigan, all battleground states. Why Arizona? Except for Missouri (which was a virtual tie in 2008), Arizona is probably the only state Obama did not carry in 2008 that he has a prayer of carrying in 2012. And the state has had more than its share of national newsworthy events (probably why the New York Times assigned a full time reporter to the state last year). While Arizona might be a stretch for him to carry, even making the attempt may be important. Otherwise the political narrative is exclusively about him playing defense, trying to hold on to enough of his 2008 states to get re-elected. Arizona represents almost his only opportunity to play offense-and change the narrative.

4. Competitive Districts without Incumbents. Perhaps 10% of the congressional districts in the country are truly competitive --and most of these have incumbents. Giffords district is competitive. (It was held by a moderate Republican, Jim Kolbe, for many years). Interestingly Arizona now will now likely have three of these rarities (truly competitive and without an incumbent): Giffords' District (CD2), the newly created central CD9, and (if Paul Gosar moves to the Western CD4 as he has indicated), the Northeast/Flagstaff CD1 will also be vacant. Three very competitive districts, each without an incumbent. A rarity.

Stay tuned. Should be fun.

--Michael J. O'Neil, PhD

(Copyright MJO. All Rights Reserved.)

Posted by JD Hull at January 24, 2012 01:22 PM

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