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58% of Florida Puerto Ricans: Make Territory a State Based on 2012 Vote

A new poll found that 57.6% of people of Puerto Rican origin in central Florida believe that Puerto Rico should be made a State based on the territory’s vote for the status in November 2012.

Only 30.4% of those questioned in a scientific survey thought that there was a need for another plebiscite among all of Puerto Rico’s status options, including the current territory status sometimes misleadingly called “commonwealth.”

Issue Would Sway Their Vote

Candidates for public office who support statehood or a choice between statehood and nationhood are far more likely to win the votes of central Floridians of Puerto Rican origin, according to the random sample.

Asked to rate the odds of voting for candidates for public office based on various positions on the status of Puerto Rico, with 0 representing “extremely unlikely” and 10 being “extremely likely,” supporting statehood for the territory scored 8.1, and backing a bill that guaranteed it statehood got 7.5.

Advocating legislation for a vote to resolve the issue of the territory’s ultimate status — a choice between statehood and nationhood — was an even better way for a candidate to win the vote of central Florida Puerto Ricans: They rated the odds of supporting such a political figure at 8.3.

Backing the current status of the Commonwealth, however, drove the odds of a candidate winning their votes down to 4.6.

Statehood First Choice of 64%

The results were consistent with other findings of the survey by a top national political polling company. Sixty-four percent identified statehood as their preference for Puerto Rico’s status.

Statehood Would Make 81% Proud

A full 81% would be “proud” if the territory became a State. Asked if they agree with the statement that Puerto Rican statehood would make them proud, 60% of those polled answered that they would be “strongly agree” proud, and 21% responded that they would be “somewhat” agree,

Only 15% did not agree, nine percent “strongly,” and six percent “somewhat.”

The responses show that many people of Puerto Rican origin who are not advocates of statehood for Puerto Rico would be happy if the territory becomes a State.

Federal Action Important to 85%

A total of 85% of the Florida citizens of Puerto Rican origin polled view presidential and congressional action to resolve the question of Puerto Rico’s ultimate status as important. It was “Extremely important” to 37%, “Very Important” to 39%, and “Somewhat important” to 9%.

Only 9% of those surveyed regarded Federal action on the issue as “Not very important” and just two percent answered “Not important.”

National Political Importance

The poll results are of national political importance. Florida is a State so closely divided between Democrats and Republicans that it is widely considered a ‘swing’ State in presidential elections. It is so populous that it can also swing national elections one way or another.

Additionally, voters of Puerto Rican origin are considered by news and political analysts to be the “swing vote” of this swing State. They have voted for and elected both Republicans and Democrats.

Their numbers are increasing rapidly as migration from the territory to the States has totaled about 1,000 a week in recent years. Most islanders move to Florida, and most of those go to the ‘I-4 corridor’ running from the Orlando area to Tampa, the area of the survey.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there were 987,663 people of Puerto Rican origin in Florida as of July 1st, 2013. It counted 847,550 in 2010 and 482,027 in 2000. The 2000 count was double the number of people of Puerto Rican origin in 1990, according to the Census.

76% for Statehood: Yes or No Vote

The percentage of citizens of Puerto Rican origin favoring a “Statehood: Yes or No” plebiscite was also overwhelming: 75.6%. Only 14.2% were opposed.

Puerto Rico statehood party president Pedro Pierluisi, the Commonwealth’s representative to the Federal government, has proposed such a vote. As the sole voice of the territory of 3.6 million people in the U.S. House of Representatives, he has led 131 other members of the House in sponsoring a bill that would provide for an insular vote on statehood.

The bill has sponsors from both national parties, including all Florida Democrats and several Florida Republicans. Most sponsors, however, are Democrats.

Three U.S. senators have sponsored a companion bill. All Democrats, they were led by Martin Heinrich (D-NM). Neither of Florida’s senators are sponsors.

“Commonwealth” Party Opposition

Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla and most of his “commonwealth” party members who control the territorial Legislative Assembly oppose a vote on statehood, but some party leaders do not. They include Garcia Padilla’s predecessor as party president, former insular House of Representatives Minority Leader Hector Ferrer, who has hinted that he may challenge Garcia for the governorship in 2016.

The “commonwealth” party leadership is united, however, in its refusal to accept the validity of the 2012 plebiscite conducted under territorial law and the vote’s results. It supported the current territory status rejected in the plebiscite and failed in its effort to defeat statehood in the vote.

Federal Status Resolution Law

The “commonwealth” party’s refusal to accept the plebiscite’s results led to President Obama proposing and the Congress in January passing legislation for a plebiscite on status options that can resolve the question of the territory’s ultimate status and do not conflict with the Constitution, laws, and policies of the United States.

Puerto Rico’s Elections Commission would make a proposal for the options but the U.S. Department of Justice would have to find that the alternatives meet the requirements of the Federal law. The Justice Department approval would make it awkward for a losing party to dispute the results, as the “commonwealth” party leadership has done regarding the 2012 plebiscite results.

Thirty percent of those questioned in the poll were aware that the Federal government had enacted the law for another plebiscite, although limited to real statuses that can resolve the issue.

The Poll

The poll was conducted by Voter Consumer Research.

People were questioned between August 20th and September 4th. Ninety-two percent were registered voters.

Voter Consumer Research says that the survey has a potential accuracy variance of plus or minus 4.9% — an amount that would hardly matter given the lopsided nature of the results.

The firm has been praised for the accuracy of its polls by the two national political analysts not identified with a political party who may be the most highly regarded in the field, Charlie Cook and Stuart Rothenberg.





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