Trend: SWFL voters switching to Republican party

Posted at 10:23 PM, Feb 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-19 22:36:18-05

Fox 4 uncovered a surge of people switching political parties ahead of the upcoming Florida Presidential Primaries.

"We've generally been independents, but we feel our country is headed in the wrong direction," John Guarino said.

He and his wife Maureen believe it's time for a change, and want to voice their views in the upcoming primary.

They changed their party affilation from Independent to Republican.

"We think this is fairly important that we need to get someone new and some new ideas," John Guarino said.

The couple is two of 571 Charlotte County voters making that switch in 2016.

"I thought the numbers were astonishing, actually. I didn't think that many people cared that much, especially for a primary," Maureen Guarino said.

In Collier County, 787 people switched from Independent to Republican.

In Lee County, 1796 made the same change.

On the other side, about half as many Independents switched to Democrat; 259 in Charlotte County, 388 in Collier county, and 909 in Lee County.

Political expert Dr. Laura Weir explains why: "People feel very strongly about either making sure their candidate gets the nomination, or there are certain candidates that don't get the nomination," she said.

Tammy Wilkie said that's the case for her with Donald Trump.

"I can't fathom Donald Trump being President. With this man, it scares me. Him in the oval office scares me a lot," Wilkie siad.

Her fear inspired her to vote against him in the primary by switching from Democrat to the Republican party.

It's a change 387 Charlotte County voters made this year.

"I think it's crazy. I thought I was a rare breed. I didn't know so many people felt so strongly to make that change," Wilkie said.

In Collier County, 313 Democrats switched to the Republican party, compared to the 113 Republicans switching to Democrat.

In Lee County, 843 Democrats switched to Republican, compared to 322 Republicans to Democrat.

Wilkie and the Guarinos believe Trump could be behind the trend to change to Republican.

"He will never get my vote," Wilkie said.

"The fact that Donald Trump is in it, I think he just kind of stirs the pot," Maureen Guarino said.

The deadline to switch political party affiliaton for the closed Florida Primary has already passed.

It takes place on March 15th.