Although Republican numerical advantages have persisted for years, locals say tensions began to escalate, much as they did across the country, in 2016, the first time Sandler slapped a “Dump Trump” sticker on her golf cart.
Some Republican villagers decided that the community’s Republican club wasn’t supportive enough of the president and started clubs like Villagers for Trump and Veterans for Trump, where they could meet with like-minded neighbors, bring in outside speakers and organize the occasional golf cart parade.
Now, political fights lead at times to physical fights, prompting some septuagenarians to pack pepper spray and stun guns into the golf carts residents use to dart around the 35-square mile community, according to some locals.
“It was never as ugly as it is now and it has been ugly every day since the 2016 election,” said Chris Stanley, the president of the Villages Democratic Club, who says she walks a tightrope between encouraging people to speak their mind and reminding them that splenetic outbursts won’t help Democrats’ cause. “People have lost friends. They’ve lost their social group. They won’t talk publicly, because they’ll lose their golf game. Now, there are battle lines drawn.”