July 6, 2020


Old, White, and Right: The Politics of The VillagesHow the fast-growing Florida community became so Trump-friendly. (WILLIAM W. STEINER,  JULY 6, 2020, The Bulwark)

To understand the politics of The Villages, one must know something about its background. It started as a stereotypical Florida retirement community built of "premanufactured homes" in the 1970s. But few people wanted to live in a mobile home on an old cow pasture in Central Florida, away from the beaches and ocean breezes. The developers switched gears, added a host of community activities and amenities, and started building affordable single-family homes in the 1990s and the growth hasn't stopped since. According to Census Bureau estimates, it has been the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country over the last decade. The population today is estimated to be over 120,000 people, 80 percent of whom are over the age of 65. In 2016, the Census Bureau labeled Sumter County, where The Villages is located, the "oldest" county in the United States.

The politics of The Villages initially mirrored patterns typical across the country. Older voters tend to lean Republican with an eye toward "conservative" values. In the 2000 presidential election, the Republican/Democratic split in Sumter County was about 54/43. That differential has widened with every presidential election since then. In 2016, the split was 69/30 for Donald Trump. In addition, The Villages is perhaps the "whitest" large community in the United States: The most recent Census Bureau estimates show 96.8 percent of Villagers identifying as non-Latino white, with 0.3 percent identifying as African-American. In recent years, those demographics have coalesced with a president who makes a point of highlighting racial and cultural divisiveness. It is now more acceptable in much of America to publicly display your prejudices and one can now see instances of such behavior out in the open in The Villages.

Posted by at July 6, 2020 12:00 AM