Monday, August 29, 2016

New Influx of White Retirees Bolsters Trump in Florida

This is interesting.

I've never discounted Trump's chances in Florida, mainly because he's had such a big business presence there. Plus, Florida elects GOP governors all the time. Why count out Trump?

Well, it turns out, there's also a new and large white retiree community that might bolster that Manhattan mogul.

This is cool.

At WSJ, "White Retiree Influx Helps Keep Florida in Play for Donald Trump":
THE VILLAGES, Fla.—Fast-growing minority communities give Democrats an increasing advantage in Florida, one of the most heated battlegrounds in the presidential election. A different and little-noted demographic trend is helping to keep the state competitive for Donald Trump : a new influx of white retirees, such as Art Donnelly.

Mr. Donnelly and his wife moved last year from Long Island, N.Y., to a retirement community here, where he has attended tea-party gatherings and Republican club meetings. He said he plans to get more involved in helping to elect Mr. Trump, the GOP nominee.

“Politicians in general are too focused on how they can help themselves and their inner circles,” said 67-year-old Mr. Donnelly, a former consultant in the intelligence community. “I don’t think Trump is going to be so easily controlled by the power brokers.”

Florida, the largest swing state, is being keenly targeted by the presidential campaigns. While Democrat Hillary Clinton can lose the state and find other paths to victory, it is seen as a must-win for Mr. Trump. Both candidates have been stumping there regularly.

New arrivals like Mr. Donnelly help explain why the Florida race remains tight in polls. The most recent, a Mason-Dixon survey released Friday, showed Mr. Trump trailing Mrs. Clinton by only two points among likely voters, a slim margin helped in part by his lead of over 20 points among white seniors.

President Barack Obama won Florida by less than a percentage point in 2012 amid a poor showing among white voters. Since then, the terrain has turned more favorable to Democrats. The share of eligible voters who are non-Hispanic white has fallen from 67% in 2012 to a projected 64% this year, according to the nonpartisan States of Change demography project.

That is due to more Hispanic and minority voters, as well as to a big influx of residents from economically troubled Puerto Rico, who are eligible to vote and tend to back Democrats. Some 96,000 Hispanics arrived in Florida from abroad in 2014, including many from Puerto Rico.

That trend is partly offset by another set of new residents—white retirees, many from GOP-leaning areas of the country. Though Florida has long been a destination for white retirees, they have arrived in larger numbers in recent years as a stronger economy and rising property values made it easier to move, economists and local officials say.

“People around the country in depressed areas were able to sell homes and come down,’’ said Don Hahnfeldt, a resident of The Villages community who is running unopposed for a state House seat.

A net 7,800 white, non-Hispanic residents left Florida in the recession year of 2008, but whites streamed back as the economy picked up, topping a net 94,000 arrivals in 2014.

“The interplay between the share of the white vote and the share of the Hispanic vote will keep the state relatively competitive for a while,” said Democratic strategist Steve Schale, who managed Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign in Florida.

These trends are on display in two neighboring areas of central Florida: The Villages and Orlando. The Villages—an expanse of residential tracts interspersed with golf courses, country clubs and town centers with architectural themes, such as an old cattle town—is the fastest-growing metro area in the U.S. Its county, Sumter, is the only one in the country where the majority of the population is seniors.

The Villages has a high rate of new arrivals, 87% of whom were white in 2014, census data show. Between 2009 and 2013, the biggest source of new residents from beyond Florida was rural places outside metro areas nationwide, which tend to be more conservative. By voter registration, Sumter County is 53% Republican and 26% Democratic...
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