Voters of Puerto Rican origin in central Florida overwhelmingly support statehood for Puerto Rico, according to a new poll.
The professional survey found that about 64% favor the status for the territory.
The percentage was slightly higher than the vote for statehood in a plebiscite in Puerto Rico held by the Commonwealth government along with the 2012 elections. In that result, 61.2% choose statehood over nationhood as the alternative to the current territory status.
The scientific 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 swing the outcome of presidential 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 a States has grown to about 1,000 a week in recent years. Most move to Florida, and most of those go to the center of the State.
The U.S. Census 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 number was double the count in the 1990 census.
The percentage of voters of Puerto Rican origin favoring a “Statehood: Yes or No” plebiscite was even higher than those supporting statehood — 76%.
Puerto Rico statehood party president Pedro Pierluisi, the Commonwealth’s representative to the Federal government, has proposed such a vote. As the territory’s voice in the U.S. House of Representatives, he has led 131 other members of the House in sponsoring a bill that provides for an insular vote on statehood.
The bill has sponsors from both national parties, including all Florida Democrats and several Florida Republicans. Most of its sponsors are Democrats, however.
Three senators have sponsored a companion bill. All Democrats, they were led by Martin Heinrich (D-NM). Neither of Florida’s senators are sponsors.
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.
A total of 85% of the Florida voters 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.”
Additionally, the site reported that the new poll found overwhelming margins would vote for candidates for public office who: favor statehood; would support a congressional bill that will automatically make Puerto Rico a State if islanders vote for the status; want Congress to act to resolve the issue of the territory’s ultimate status; and would authorize a plebiscite.
Thirty percent were aware that the Federal government enacted a law in January providing for a plebiscite on statuses that can resolve the issue. The plebiscite requires U.S. Justice Department approval of the status options.
Voter Consumer Research polled 400 voters who live along the ‘I-4 corridor,’ the home of most Florida residents of Puerto Rican origin, between August 20th and September 4th. The area includes the cities of Orlando and Tampa and communities around and between.
The firm explained that the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9% — a range that would not matter in this poll given the lopsided nature of the results.
The firm has been praised for the accuracy of its polls by the two political analysts not identified with a political party who may be the most highly regarded in the field, Charlie Cook and Stuart Rothenberg.
It polls for Republican presidential, gubernatorial, and congressional campaigns, and large corporations and national organizations.