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Poll Shows Support for Puerto Rico Statehood Stronger than for D.C.

A recent poll by Data for Progress found that Americans overall would rather give statehood to Puerto Rico than to Washington, D.C.

Both D.C. and Puerto Rico have voted for statehood and Puerto Rico has formally requested statehood. Both have introduced admission bills.

Data for Progress surveyed 1,282 U.S. voters and asked these questions:

  • Would you support or oppose granting statehood, including full representation in Congress, to Washington, DC, currently a Federal District?
  • Would you support or oppose granting statehood, including full representation in Congress, to Puerto Rico, currently a US Commonwealth?

While “Commonwealth” is not the technical legal status of Puerto Rico, which has been a U.S. territory since 1898, the term has been used historically in describing Puerto Rico’s relationship within the broader United States.  After Hurricane Maria struck in 2017, Americans have become more familiar with the status of Puerto Rico the term “territory” is more frequently used.

34 percent favored statehood for D.C. 28 percent opposed statehood. The remaining respondents said, “don’t know” or “neither.”

53 percent — a clear majority — supported statehood for Puerto Rico. 21 percent opposed statehood. Again, the rest of those surveyed chose “don’t know” or “neither.”

Who supports statehood?

People who had last voted for a Democratic candidate were more likely to favor statehood for both Puerto Rico and D.C. All age groups favored statehood for Puerto Rico over D.C., but younger voters were more likely to support D.C.’s bid for statehood. Younger voters were also more likely to support statehood in general.

Rural voters were less likely to support statehood for either Puerto Rico or Washington, D.C. Again, rural voters were more likely to turn down D.C. than Puerto Rico. White voters were also less likely to support statehood for D.C.

Respondents from states with larger Puerto Rican populations didn’t answer differently from those with smaller populations from Puerto Rico. The survey did not actually determine whether respondents were of Puerto Rican heritage or not. They compared answers from states with 5% or more of the population identified as Puerto Rican, with answers from states with less than 5%. They saw no difference. It is possible that the sample was too small to draw a strong conclusion from this information.

Broadly speaking, the researchers concluded that race and gender were not important factors in support for statehood for Puerto Rico.

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