Capitol Riot

Thousands of South Florida Voters Changed Parties After Capitol Attack

Over 6,000 in Miami-Dade and Broward counties officially changed their political affiliations away from the Republican party. Nearly 3,000 left the Democratic party.

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Thousands of people in Miami-Dade and Broward changed political parties after former President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to stop the certification of electoral votes. 

It was the tipping point for many and consequences continue to play out, including hundreds of criminal cases still moving through the court system. 

According to election documents obtained by NBC 6 Investigators through a public records request, 6,003 voters in Miami-Dade and Broward counties officially changed their political affiliation away from the GOP in January and February of this year.

Over that same period, records show 2,986 left the Democratic party. 

Hialeah Councilman Paul Hernandez is among those who left the Republican party.

“That one day was the culmination of months of anti-democratic rhetoric,” Hernandez said, adding he began to think about switching parties when then-President Trump did not concede after losing the election. 

“I looked at my son and I knew that moment would be a moment that he was going to read about one day and I couldn’t stand the idea of having him ask me about it and having to explain to him in any way, shape, or form, I was aligned with that party,” Hernandez said. 

Republicans in South Florida, however, made major inroads during the 2020 election, unseating two incumbent Democratic congresswomen.

Statistically, Hialeah voters trend Republican and were major supporters of former President Trump. But Hernandez told NBC 6 he is not concerned about his decision.

“My connection to the Hialeah voters and the job that I’ve done for the last 10 years, I feel pretty confident in if they had to make a decision, they’d make a decision on my character,” Hernandez said. 

The riot at the U.S. Capitol, and the possibility of more violent protests, along with the pandemic are taking a toll on the country's mental health. It comes atop an already difficult time as millions worry about rising Covid-19 case numbers, job losses and food insecurity. A Boston University study found rates of depression have tripled during the pandemic.

NBC 6 took the party switching numbers to the chair of the Miami-Dade Republican Party, Commissioner Rene Garcia. He condemned the attack on the Capitol.

“A lot of people are tired of politics as usual. I think you see these numbers reflect that,” Garcia said. 

Garcia pointed to the fact 7,106 people left both the Republican and Democratic parties to become NPAs (No Party Affiliated) or Independent voters. He said the numbers show people might be getting burnt out of 24/7 partisan politics.

“Granted you’re seeing more of an uptick to Republican to NPA numbers, but you’re seeing that as Democrat to NPA as well,” Garcia said. 

U.S. Capitol Police Captain Carneysha Mendoza gave a riveting first-hand account of the deadly insurrection on Jan. 6, as she testified before two Senate committees Tuesday. “In the multitude of events I've worked in my nearly 19-year career in the department, this was by far the worst of the worst,” Mendoza said.

He said the GOP is “more than one individual,” and he wants to talk to those who left the party about issues like the First Amendment, smaller government, and lower taxes.

“It’s my job as Republican Party chair to make sure those NPAs still perform Republican and I’m sure they will perform Republican,” Garcia said.

It’s important to point out we do not know why each individual voter changed parties and the data includes records from January 1 through 5, the days before the Capitol attack. 

These numbers are also relatively small. While 12,049 people in total changed political parties during January and February, there are 2,859,839 total voters in Miami-Dade and Broward.

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