Kyrsten Sinema is easily one of the most interesting characters in American politics today. For someone who claims to be such a massive proponent of bipartisanship and unity, she’s become an extremely decisive figure. Since leaving the Democratic Party in December 2022, Sinema has found herself in political no man’s land and is at a crossroads in her career. She’s filed the paperwork to run for reelection in 2024, but has yet to make an official decision. Due to the uphill battle she would face, it would be in Sinema’s own best interest and the country’s to bow out and not seek reelection to the Senate in 2024.
The biggest hurdle to Sinema’s reelection chances is that she would have to run against both a Democratic and Republican nominee in the general election. Even though she still technically caucuses with Senate Democrats, it’s unlikely that she would receive support from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, especially after her recent comments where she bashed the Democratic caucus as “a bunch of old dudes eating Jell-O.” Meanwhile, Republicans see the race as a key pick-up opportunity in a year that they’re primed to take back control of the Senate since they only have to defend 11 seats compared to 20 for the Democrats — 23 if including the three independent senators who caucus with them. Given the importance of the race to both parties, Sinema would be going up against two heavily-financed candidates backed by the national parties. Her campaign donations and political supporters would pale in comparison to her opponents, putting her at a major disadvantage in the general election.
Another factor working against Sinema is her approval ratings. In the ultimate act of bipartisanship that she preaches, a recent poll found that a majority of every key voting group disapproves of her and is one of America’s least approved of Senators, which is quite impressive given that one of her colleagues is human doormat Ted Cruz. Democrats in particular dislike Sinema, with 59% of Democrats saying they disapprove and 30% giving their approval. Her overall approval rating sits a mere 38%, while her disapproval rating is right at 50%. While politicians have won reelection with low approval ratings before —looking at you, Mitch McConnell— doing so in a competitive battleground state is a much harder task than winning in a solid red state with low approval. What’s especially damning is that her approval rating was in the 30% range even before she left the party, meaning that she would be in a weak position to win reelection even if she didn’t make the switch.
But the big reason that Sinema shouldn’t run is that she risks acting as a spoiler candidate to the Democrats. Even though she has a higher approval rating among Republicans, their voters are likely chomping at the bit to flip the seat and reverse the state’s Democratic trends that have been occurring over the last decade. As such, Sinema is going to need to rely on engaging Democratic voters that she alienated by her party switch. She could easily win the votes of moderates, but winning progressive voters is basically off the table as progressives in Arizona have expressed their anger with Sinema. As a result of this, Representative Ruben Gallego, a progressive darling, declared his candidacy in January to take on Sinema. While Gallego is a solid candidate who could do well statewide, moderate Democrats may still be inclined to vote Sinema as a more centrist option to Gallego’s progressivism. If the Democratic vote were to split like this, this would effectively hand the seat to the Republican nominee and make Republicans’ already easy pathway to the majority easier. What makes this scenario so concerning is that Kari Lake, a far-right Trump-aligned nutcase, is openly flirting with running for the seat since she still can’t come to terms with her loss in the state’s gubernatorial election last November. The prospect of a radical extremist like Lake in the Senate should scare the hell out of Democratic voters in Arizona and convince them not to vote for Sinema to make sure that Lake stays as far away from the Senate as humanly possible.
With low approval ratings, lack of political and monetary support and the prospect of being a spoiler candidate, it would be wise for Kysten Sinema to rule against a reelection bid for 2024. While I wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of her winning since American politics can be so unpredictable, her hill is too steep to climb — she should give up now before she goes tumbling down in November 2024.