Jim Farr, 77, is a staunch Republican from Florida, an American state where retirees come from across the country to enjoy their old days in the sun. He doesn’t like the idea of voting for a Democratic candidate. But he is even more afraid of re-electing Donald Trump.
This retiree from Kissimmee, near Orlando in central Florida, defines himself as a pious Christian who believes in “compassionate capitalism”. He has not moved away from the Conservative Party. But from the president, yes.
“He doesn’t seem to care about the truth, and the truth is very important to me,” says Mr. Farr, who says he’s frustrated with the New York billionaire’s international policies and his “vanity,” which would prevent listening to his advisers.
When the White House tenant gave himself a “10 out of 10” rating for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Jim Farr thought “that would have made a good joke, if the situation was funny. But this is not the case”.
All of this will push this voter from Florida, a key state in the country whose voting in the presidential election is crucial to the outcome of the poll, to vote for Democrat Joe Biden in November.
After all, the former vice president of Barack Obama “seems like a suitable person.” And, a sign that Mr. Farr can no longer see President Trump in painting, he is less afraid of voting – despite his religious convictions – for a candidate who supports the right to abortion than of seeing “Trump do everything alone, by doing put his own interests before the needs of the country ”.
With the coronavirus pandemic, Jim Farr is not the only Floridian to change his mind. There are signs that more and more retirees from the Sunshine State who voted Trump in 2016 are planning to (temporarily) switch sides.
According to a Quinnipiac poll on July 23, Joe Biden is three points ahead of Donald Trump in this age group.
A serious problem for the incumbent president, because it is this demographic category that gave him the victory in 2016 in this state, where 57% of people over 65 voted for him.
A few voices near
Another problem for the billionaire is that his most loyal supporters are precisely those most affected by the virus (83% of the 8,700 Floridians who died from COVID-19 are over 65).
Randy Pestana, an expert in electoral politics at Florida International University, believes that the turnaround for a Biden vote is indeed “a trend.” Those most vulnerable to the virus “are starting to see that the Trump administration’s response has not been good.” As a result, “the economy is not good and their retirement is not good either. And, incidentally, their health is in danger, ”he explains.
“A lot of Republicans who voted for Trump are fed up. Every day something new happens, another tweet, etc., ”adds Randy Pestana.
The elected Democrat Ted Deutch, who represents in Congress in Washington one of the districts of Florida with the highest concentration of retirees, explained to AFP that “Donald Trump’s policy has been disastrous on all the issues that concern the elderly”. In addition, “its failure to respond to the pandemic has been fatal to older Americans.”
Elections in Florida, where it’s impossible to predict which way the wind will turn, are usually decided by tiny margins, which keep the entire nation in suspense. Therefore, every vote counts and voter defections can be significant.
No one forgets that in 2000, a difference of 537 votes sent Republican George W. Bush to the White House.
“I wouldn’t expect a massive electoral exodus of white Republican retirees, but even a small change could influence the outcome,” said Michael Binder, professor of political science at the University of North Florida.
And due to the complex electoral system in the United States, Donald Trump needs the 29 votes of Florida’s top voters to stay in power.