Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla (“commonwealth” party) is viewed negatively by two-thirds of the residents of central Florida of Puerto Rican origin who have an opinion of him, according to a professional poll.
By contrast, they have favorable impressions of his statehood party predecessor and the two statehood party leaders who are who are most widely discussed as his possible 2016 re-election opponent.
Garcia Padilla was viewed unfavorably by 35% of those interviewed in the scientific survey. Only 18% had a favorable opinion of him. Nineteen percent knew of the Governor but had no impression. A quarter did not know who he was.
Luis Fortuno, who Garcia unseated in 2012, was viewed favorably by 34% and unfavorably by only 25%. Nineteen percent knew of him but had no opinion. Eighteen percent did not recognize his name.
The Commonwealth’s resident commissioner in the U.S. House of Representatives and statehood party president, Pedro Pierluisi, was less known but much more highly regarded than Garcia by those with an opinion. Twenty-nine percent had a favorable view of Pierluisi, compared with only 10% who did not. Nineteen percent knew of him but had no impression of him. Forty percent were not aware who he was.
The numbers for the statehood party leader most often mentioned as Pierluisi’s likely main challenger for the 2016 gubernatorial nomination, Ricardo Rossello, was viewed almost the same as the resident commissioner in the poll. Twenty-eight percent of those questioned had a favorable impression of him, while only 11% did not. Twenty-two percent of those questioned knew of Rossello but did not have an opinion. Thirty-six percent did not recognize his name.
Puerto Rico’s Status
Views of political leaders of Puerto Rico were consistent with views of the territory’s political status expressed in the survey. Fifty-eight percent said that the Commonwealth should be made a State based on its status plebiscite held in 2012 and only 30% said all of the territory’s status options should continue to be considered.
Fifty-nine percent answered that fixing the current territory status sometimes misleadingly called “commonwealth” after the name of the insular government is impossible and statehood is the best solution for the territory while only 28% accepted the idea that territory status can be improved.
Puerto Ricans rejected the territory’s current status in 2012 by 54%. Statehood was chosen as the alternative by 61.2%. “Commonwealth” party Governor Garcia, who was very narrowly elected at the same time as the plebiscite, campaigned for the losing territory status option and disputes the plebiscite as a whole as well as its results.
National and State Politicians
The survey also asked about Florida’s leading candidates in the State’s gubernatorial election in November, its U.S. senators, President Obama, and Jeb Bush, a former Governor of the State.
All of the poll participants knew of Democrat Obama — and most liked him. Sixty-five percent had a favorable impression, only 27% had an unfavorable one. Seven percent had no opinion.
Republican Bush, who is sometimes discussed as a possible 2016 presidential candidate, was almost as well known as Obama despite having left the governorship in 2007 and many residents of Florida of Puerto Rican origin being relatively new to the State. Only seven percent of those polled were unaware of him. Forty-six percent had a positive opinion of the former governor, substantially more than the 29 percent who had a negative impression. But 16% knew of him and did not have a view.
Florida Candidates for Governor
Republican Governor Rick Scott was the only one of the 10 politicians that poll participants were asked about other than Garcia who had more people disliking him than liking him — although the Florida Governor was not as unpopular as Puerto Rico’s was among residents of Florida of Puerto Rican origin. Twenty-eight percent had an favorable impression of Scott versus 37% who had a unfavorable one. Nineteen percent had no view of Scott and 13% said that they did not know of him.
Scott’s Republican predecessor and now Democratic challenger for re-election this November, Charlie Crist, was more significantly popular. He was viewed positively by 41% of those polled and negatively by only 27%. Seventeen percent were unaware of him. Twelve percent did not recognize his name.
Florida’s junior Senator, Marco Rubio, who, like the poll participants, is of Latino origin and also is widely discussed as a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, was much better known than the State’s senior Senator, Democrat Bill Nelson. But the percentage of survey respondents rating him more unfavorably equaled the extent to which he was better known.
Rubio was viewed favorably by 36% and unfavorably by 27%. Twenty percent expressed no opinion, and 15% said that they were not aware of him.
Nelson was judged positively by 33% and negatively by only 8%. Twenty-one percent knew of but had no opinion of him, and 32% did not recognize his name.
The results of the poll are of great political importance because Florida is so closely divided between Democrats and Republicans. Voters of Puerto Rican origin are considered by news and political analysts to be its “swing vote.”
Puerto Ricans have moved from the territory to Florida in droves in recent years. 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 almost twice the number in 1990.
A highly regarded national survey research company, Voter Consumer Research, conducted the poll. Although the firm only polls for Republicans when it does political surveys, it has been praised for the accuracy and objectivity of its data by two of the most respected national political analysts not identified with a political party, Charlie Cook and Stuart Rothenberg.
Voter Consumer Research interviewed residents of Florida living in the ‘I-4 corridor,’ which runs from he Orlando area to Tampa, from August 20th to September 4th for the poll. Much of Florida’s population of Puerto Rican origin lives in this area. Ninety-two percent of those questioned were registered voters in the State.
The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%.