Republican voter exodus continues in Tampa Bay region as GOP grapples with insurrection fallout
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Sad elephant
Nearly 4,000 GOP voters have left the party in Hillsborough and Pinellas since the Capitol insurrection.

Since the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, nearly 4,000 Republican voters in the Tampa Bay region have left the Grand Old Party.

The GOP defections were split almost evenly between Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Of the 2,603 voter registration changes in Pinellas County since Jan. 6, 1,940 of them were Republicans who dumped the party, according to Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections data.

Most, 1,108, left the party and re-registered with no party affiliation (NPA). Another 419 registered with the Independent Party of Florida, a minor party committed to adherence to the constitution. They are often mistaken for NPA registration because both are referred to as independents.

Another 348 Republicans changed their party affiliation to Democrat, while 44 joined the Libertarian Party of Florida.

The total number of Republican defections since the Jan. 6 insurrection is a pittance compared to overall voter registration — only 0.8% of overall Republican voters and just 0.2% of all Pinellas County voters. However, it’s an uncommon trend and one that is disproportionally affecting the GOP.

During the same period, only 311 Democrats changed their party affiliation — 175 to NPA, 85 to Republican, 42 to Independent, four to Libertarian, three to the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and two to the Green Party.

Likewise, only 301 NPA voters changed their affiliation — 134 to Democrat, 115 to Republican, 46 to Independent, and six to Libertarian.

Third-party changes trickled in with only 15 moves away from the Libertarian Party and fewer than five in all others.

Since the insurrection, the Pinellas GOP lost a net 1,733 voters while Democrats gained 181. NPAs, meanwhile, netted 1,012 new voters.

The situation is about the same in Hillsborough County, where 1,979 Republicans dumped the GOP, according to Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections data. Of those, 1,185 registered as NPA, 396 as Independent, 343 as Democrat, and 43 as Libertarian, with the remaining all registering with various other minor parties.

In Hillsborough, the GOP lost a net 1,715 voters, while Democrats gained 87.

The trend started almost immediately.

As Florida Politics first reported on Jan. 8, just two days after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, 290 voters had already left the GOP in Pinellas County. During the same span, only 34 Democrats changed their party affiliation.

The number has now grown into the thousands and shows the Republican exodus continues.

The party changes underscore an internal crisis within the Republican Party as members grapple with whether to remain loyal to former President Donald Trump, whose actions in the weeks and hours leading up to the insurrection prompted his second impeachment or to attempt to return to the more storied principles of the Party of Lincoln.

The rift between party ideologies is apparent both in Florida and throughout the nation, with the most recent battle coming from Georgia U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has distanced himself from Trump and had stern words for Taylor Greene, calling her a “cancer” to the Republican Party.

A Trump loyalist, Taylor Greene made numerous incendiary comments, including that the tragic school shooting in Parkland was a false flag event, 9/11 was an inside job, and supporting the execution of Democratic officials.

Democrats want Taylor Greene stripped of her committee assignments, if not removed from Congress altogether, and call on Republican colleagues to stand against her violent rhetoric.

The challenge is apparent beyond the Tampa Bay area, as well.

About 1,000 Miami residents have changed their party affiliation in the less than one month since the Capitol attack. Duval County, which is Jacksonville, has seen similar numbers.

But it’s worth noting the voter registration numbers are just that — data. While it tells a story by highlighting a trend, there are no names attached to the data.

That means Republicans can be leaving the party for a variety of reasons. While some may indeed be leaving the party over disenchantment with Trump and his handling of the Jan. 6 riot, others may be leaving the party because it wasn’t loyal enough for Trump.

That was the case for at least one Hillsborough party official who left the GOP because it wasn’t Trumpy enough.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]

One comment

  • James Robert Miles

    February 2, 2021 at 7:07 pm

    Smart people can tell that the lawless GOP (group of pirates) is going nowhere with its on going support of insurrection, racism and Trump. It used to be respectable to be a Republican but it isn’t anymore. It is now the party of divisiveness and insurrection. It appeals to the lowest intelligence caliber, that is the people with the lowest I.Q.!

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