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Poll: Large Majority of Puerto Ricans Very Unhappy with New “Commonwealth” Gov’t

A year after voting to replace a statehood party government with “Commonwealth” party leadership by a very small margin, very large majorities of Puerto Ricans are unhappy with the government’s top “Commonwealth” party officials.

By contrast, voters have a much more positive view of the territory’s representative to the Federal government, who heads the statehood party, according a major scientific poll published today.

Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who led the extremely narrow “Commonwealth” party victory with a two-thirds of one percent margin, comes in for the most criticism.  In office only 10 months, 70% of voters interviewed said that he does not know how to handle Puerto Rico’s issues and 67% responded that he does not inspire confidence.

Further, 45% already hold him personally responsible for Puerto Rico’s problems — which are of long-standing and are rooted in its territory status.

Sixty-two percent disapprove of Garcia’s job performance compared with only 19% who approve.

Those disapproving include 41% of those who voted for him.  And only 39% of those who voted for Garcia approve of the way he has done his job.

The evaluation is a marked decline from the findings of the same poll in April, when 46% of all of those polled disapproved and 30% approved of his tenure.

Garcia is worse than expected according to 60% of those polled — compared with 40% in April — and better in the minds of only seven percent — versus 20% in April.

Even among “Commonwealth” party members, 35% say he has been worse, and only 20% better.

Grading the Governor as they would a student, five percent of all of those surveyed gave him an “A,” 16% a “B,” 21% a “C,” 23% a “D,” and 34% an “F.”

In April, his A and B total was 33% — compared with 21% now, and his D and F total was 37% vs. 57% now.

Statehood party President Pedro Pierluisi, who has a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote only in committees, got more votes than Garcia last year, and is considered the most likely challenger to the Governor.  He had much better numbers in the poll than any ‘commonwealther.’

More Puerto Ricans favor statehood than support any other political status option.  A majority are dissatisfied with the current territory status, which ‘commonwealthers’ support as a second-choice to a proposal for a new “Commonwealth status” that successive Federal officials have said is impossible for constitutional and other reasons.

Forty percent of the 1,000 people interviewed graded Pierluisi with an A or a B; only 28% gave him a D or an F.  In April, he got A’s or B’s from 37% and D’s or F’s from 26%.

Fifty-one percent of statehood party members approved of his leadership of the party, while 21% did not.

Broad voter discontent applies to all of the leading “Commonwealth” party officials.

Primarily because of straight party ticket voting, the party controls both houses of Puerto Rico’s Legislative Assembly although the top vote getters in 2012 were the last House of Representatives Speaker, Jenniffer Gonzalez, and Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, both of the statehood party. Their “Commonwealth” party successors get very bad marks.

Senate President Eduardo Bhatia, who is sometimes mentioned as a possible replacement for Garcia in the “Commonwealth” party, was given an A or B by only 26% of voters polled, and got a D or F from 38%.

He is worse than expected according to 44%, up from 36% in April.  Only 11% said that he was better than expected.

Forty-eight percent said that Bhatia has little or no credibility.

House Speaker Jaime Perello fared a bit worse.  Only 23% gave him an A or a B, and 26% a D or an F.

Forty-three percent felt that Perello had been a disappointment, only 10% thought that he had done better than they expected.  Those disappointed increased from 35% in April.

Fifty-one percent said he had little or no credibility.

And only 71% of “Commonwealth” party voters surveyed held that Bhatia and Perello had any credibility.

The legislature as a whole was worse than expected by 51% and better than expected by only five percent.  The negative assessment spiked from 35% in April.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin is also thought to have ambitions to replace Garcia.  She has clashed with him more than has Bhatia — but she, too, is viewed very negatively.

Territory-wide, 57% said that she lacks adequate experience to be mayor — a number that increases to 63% among residents of Puerto Rico’s capital city.

Among all voters, she gets an A or a B from only 22% — a drop from 44% in April — and a D or an F from 27%.

The poll was conducted by highly regarded firms for El Nuevo Dia newspaper.

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