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US presidential election: Florida seniors let themselves be tempted by Joe Biden

In Florida, “The Villages” has never lived up to its name so well. This retirement community, the largest in the United States, resembles a holiday village for wealthy seniors. Here, residents play golf, stop at the bistro for a drink with their friends, and enjoy regular police patrols. But less than three weeks before the presidential election, two villages are opposed, at least ideologically.

The vast majority of retirees in the area voted for Donald Trump in 2016. “If we don’t re-elect him this year, we’ll be in trouble. Joe Biden wants to make the United States a socialist country, “accuses Jim Leach, a pint of beer in his hand and a” Trump “cap on his head. “Since the start of the pandemic, my retirement account has increased by $ 80,000, I have a good financial advisor,” boasts this ex-resident of Minnesota (north), who traded in the cold 14 years ago for the sun all year round. However, he must comply with the rules of “The Villages”: “I had to remove the signs in support of Donald Trump that I had installed on my lawn. Here, we have nothing to display, except the signs For sale. So I put my posters on my golf cart. “

Many residents express their opinions in this way. On October 7, Democrats staged a pro-Biden parade in their cart, the preferred local way to get around. Daryl, 65, believes the enthusiasm on the left is stronger than ever. “You never saw Biden signs before. For four years, here it was Trumpland ”, he regrets. “The other day I even saw a sign Flush the toilet on November 3 », Laughs the pensioner before ordering a drink at the bar.

Seniors represent a popular electorate in the United States, since they will vote in greater numbers than others. In Florida, a key presidential state, nearly a third of voters are over 65. About 43% are registered on the lists as Republicans, and 37% as Democrats. But lately, seniors are letting go of Donald Trump more and more. According to an Oct. 7 Quinnipiac poll, Joe Biden would lead with a 15-point lead among the over-65s in Florida.

“Former Trump voters tell us they can’t take it anymore”

“The Villages” remains however a fortress for Donald Trump. Vice President Mike Pence even held a rally there. But the pro-Biden wave does not spare this community. “Donald Trump will win here. But with a smaller margin, ”predicts Chris Stanley, 56 and patron of the local Democratic club. She repeats it: “Florida is always won by the wire.” She therefore hopes that the voices gathered here at Donald Trump will make it possible to tip the state, and therefore the country, “since a Republican victory will be very complicated without the Sunshine State “.

Along with Chris Stanley, more than 100 volunteers work to elect Joe Biden. Some are getting involved in politics for the first time. “I see former Trump voters coming here and telling us they can’t take it anymore. This is partly due to the mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic, ”explains the activist. Retirees are a vulnerable population, and the president’s rhetoric, who has sought to play down the virus before catching it himself, is not passing. In any case for some of the inhabitants. Many pro-Trump “still don’t believe in the reality of this virus. Or if they admit Donald Trump was infected, they say the Democrats passed it on to him. You’ll notice that a lot of them don’t wear masks or practice physical distancing, ”she sighs.

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The postponement of votes on Joe Biden has deeper reasons, according to the Democrat: “More broadly, Donald Trump’s incessant tweets, his speeches and hatred and his lies are responsible. “She especially points to the Trump promise to eliminate social contributions:” This is how retirement pensions are financed, on which we partly depend. This would change the way of life of many residents, who also fear that their children will never be entitled to a pension. “

No matter who wins on November 3, Chris Stanley, a resident of “The Villages” for six years, admits her community is divided for good: two villages, Republican versus Democrat. “We have always had our differences but we could socialize, play golf, meet at neighborhood parties. Those days are now behind us. “

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