Residents of Puerto Rico can vote in presidential primaries, but not in the presidential elections. People born in Puerto Rico who move to a State, however, can register to vote immediately. This year, the prized Central Florida region has had an influx of Puerto Rican voters, and both parties are working to register as many of these voters as possible.
While earlier surveys of this population found a preponderance of conservatives, a new survey shows that Clinton holds a strong lead among Puerto Rican voters in Florida. “The poll of Puerto Rican registered voters, the state’s second-largest Hispanic group behind Cuban-Americans, found an overwhelming majority favored the former secretary of state, 74-17 percent, over the billionaire businessman,” Politico reported. “It also found that support for Clinton was strong, with 61 percent of those surveyed said they were “certain” to vote for Clinton compared to only 12 percent who said they were “certain” to vote for Trump.”
The poll, conducted by Latin Decisions with the Center for American Progress Action Fund, found that fully 84% of those polled were definitely planning to vote. When Americans as a whole have a much smaller voting rate, amounting to just over half of registered voters in the last election, a group that can be counted on to vote will have disproportionate influence in the election.
68% of those polled held a favorable opinion of Hillary Clinton, while only 22% felt positive about Donald Trump. Part of this gap may be explained by the positions held by the candidates. The survey respondents generally favored increased school spending, a focus on clean energy, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and an increase in the minimum wage, among other positions associated with the Democratic candidate.
But part of the problem may be Trump’s apparent attitudes toward Hispanic Americans. The Tampa Bay Times quoted Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill) as saying, “When Donald Trump says Mexicans are rapists, Puerto Ricans understand he is talking about them, too. He is talking about us.”
78% of the respondents also said that the candidates’ plans for Puerto Rico are important to them. 82% said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who would provide financial support for the territory.
The poll also asked about Puerto Rico’s status. 56% favored statehood, 25% preferred the status quo, 8% preferred independence and 12% reported not having a strong opinion.