Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Mini-Exodus Of Republican Voters In Hillsborough, Pinellas After Capitol Riots

Mary Shedden
WUSF Public Media

Last week's riots at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., may have prompted a small exodus from the Republican Party.

In Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, more than 1,000 Republicans left the party in the three days after the mob attack. In Hillsborough County, voting registration records show 407 Republicans became mostly No Party Affiliation or Independents.

As a comparison, voting records show during the same three-day period last year, 65 Republicans and 100 Democrats left their parties.

In 2020, more than 9,000 Republicans and 14,000 Democrats in Hillsborough left their parties.

In Pinellas, 625 Republicans left the party in the three days after the riots. Of that, more than 500 became NPA's or Independent. Fewer than 100 became Democrats.

Also by comparison, during the same three days last year, 89 Republicans and 91 Democrats left their parties.

For the entire year, more than 7,000 Republicans and 9,000 Democrats left their parties.

Susan MacManus, a University of South Florida political scientist emeritus, said the partisan exit represents "disgust" at the party they're leaving.

"It happens, but a lot of it is driven by the fact that they just can't take another second of partisan politics, which is why you're also seeing an increase in the registration of No Party Affiliation registrants," she said. "And in the past, that's often been largely younger voters, who don't like either party from the get-go, or people who have decided it's a liability to be a partisan.

"But the partisan exit to NPA's reflects disgust overall with the two parties — or that party that it's abandoning — but an unwillingness to go to the other side," MacManus said. "It's not at all surprising, in light of the gravity of the situation. It's much more likely to be happening in the very urban and suburban parts of the state — more than the rural parts of the state — but not surprising."

There were similar numbers of people fleeing the GOP in many of the state's biggest counties in South Florida.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported in Miami-Dade, the state’s most populous county, more than seven times as many Republicans as Democrats changed their party registrations in the aftermath of the violence in Washington, D.C. The ratio of Republican to Democratic switches was almost as high in Palm Beach County, the third most populous.

Copyright 2021 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.