‘MAGA in exile’: Amid growth, Florida looks a lot like Trump country and COVID seen as big factor

As hundreds of thousands of new residents — many of them from blue states — pour into the battleground state of Florida, it’s looking more and more like the Sunshine State is now Trump country.

“There’s one word and it’s COVID,” Republican lobbyist and former chair of the Miami-Dade County GOP, Nelson Diaz, told The Hill. “It made red states redder and blue states bluer. It gave people like [Florida Gov.] Ron DeSantis a platform to stand for freedom and it gave Democrats in Democrat states a plan to stand for mandates.”

Citing “shifting demographics and a poorly organized state Democratic Party,” The Hill calls the tilt towards Trump “a perfect storm of circumstances.”

In just the pandemic-plagued year between July 2020 and July 2021, 211,000 people moved into Florida, according to estimates from the Census Bureau, many of them fleeing the failures of progressive policies in liberal states such as California and New York.

“They are Republicans fed up with their blue laws in their blue states or they’re just independent-minded people to begin with and they’re just fed up with these blue states and they’re enjoying the freedom that Florida has to offer,” Diaz said.

And to those weary of soaring crime, defunded police, gender identity discussions in grade school classes, and oppressive mask mandates, the Sunshine State, led by Governor Ron DeSantis has increasingly looked like an oasis of liberty.

“DeSantis has seized on the pandemic as a launching point for an ultra-conservative and ambitious policy agenda that has catapulted him to stardom among Republicans nationally and turned him into a prospective contender for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination,” The Hill noted.

Add DeSantis’s popularity to the mega-MAGA presence of former President Donald Trump in his Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago estate, and Florida has become a beacon for the modern GOP, with Trump drawing in “Republican candidates, donors and luminaries,” the political news outlet added.

For many across the country, DeSantis has become a general in the culture war against liberal agendas.

https://twitter.com/ChristinaPushaw/status/1504559744308195328?s=20&t=rPJxGFi1HNw4lH3Ek2JNFg

Repeatedly, DeSantis has led a fearless charge against those issues most concerning to conservative voters.

From the signing of the Parental Rights in Education bill into law, which prohibits discussions on gender identity and sexual orientation in K-3 classrooms to his revocation of Disney’s special self-governance status to his recent $1.2 billion tax relief package, aimed at combatting the impact of “Bidenflation,” DeSantis has aggressively championed the MAGA/America First causes.

But the shift in Florida to a distinctly redder shade of purple can also be attributed to significant growth in Florida’s Hispanic population at a time when Hispanic voters — crucial to candidates from both parties — are moving away from Democrats.

As American Wire News reported in February, under just one year of President Joe Biden’s leadership, Democrats lost a whopping 20 points among Hispanic voters, from a favorable rating of  63% for Dems compared to 36% for Republicans in 2020 to 44% – 37% margin.

According to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) poll, that kind of drop can only mean one thing to NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer: “Hispanic voters are moving decisively away from Democrats.”

In Florida, there are now more registered Republicans than there are Democrats.

“Late last year, the number of registered Republican voters overtook the number of registered Democrats, a sharp change since former President Obama won the state in 2008, when there were 700,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans,” according to The Hill.

Miami-based pollster Fernand Amandi, whose firm helped Obama take the Sunshine State in both 2008 and 2012, says Florida is the place to be for MAGA-loving conservatives.

“It’s become MAGA in exile,” said Armandi. “Florida is now the cradle for the MAGA movement. And then you have DeSantis, who is Trump’s protégé or his biggest competitor. The sentiment is if you believe in the MAGA philosophy, Florida is where you want to be.”

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