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Statehooders More Popular than Commonwealthers; Rossello Leads for Governor

Political status resolution activist Ricardo Rossello is the favorite for the statehood party nomination for governor of Puerto Rico in 2016, a poll released this morning shows.

Among party members, the son of former Governor Pedro Rossello is ahead of party President Pedro Pierluisi 61% to 25% in the highly regarded semi-annual survey. Senator Thomas Rivera Schatz is a distant third with 8%.

Rossello also bests Pierluisi and Rivera Schatz among all voters. Thirty-six percent chose the young scientist, compared with 22% who favored Pierluisi, the Commonwealth’s representative to the Federal government with a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives that only permits voting in committees. Former Senate President Rivera trailed with 7%.

Voters unaffiliated with a political party, however, chose Pierluisi over Rossello. Pierluisi led Rossello among these voters 25% to 21%. Only 6% chose Rivera.

The choice of voters in other political parties and those unaffiliated with a party is important because all voters can vote in primaries in Puerto Rico, which are rarely held in the territory. A primary for governor in the Commonwealth’s other large party, the “commonwealth status” party appears to be unlikely.

In sharp contrast to negative views of Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla, his “commonwealth” party, and other ‘commonwealther’ leaders, Ricardo Rossello, Pierluisi, and their party are viewed positively by voters.

  • Forty-four percent of the scientific sample gave a positive rating to Rossello vs. 32% who saw him in a negative light.
  • Resident Commissioner Pierluisi scored just about as well: 39% positive and 30% negative.
  • The view of the statehood party was 43% positive vs. 34% negative.
  • Only Rivera had a more negative than positive image. His positive number was 29% compared with a negative of 43%.

Pierluisi is seen as the party’s leader on statehood 39% to 36% over Rossello. But Rossello is seen as the party leader most committed to equality for Puerto Rico with the existing States of the U.S.

  • Fifty percent of statehood party voters in the highly regarded poll said Rossello was that leader; 26% gave that title to Resident Commissioner Pierluisi.
  • Among all voters, 35% picked Rossello as the most committed to statehood vs. 28% who said Pierluisi is.

Rossello was also seen as the senior leader in the party now.

  • 51% of party voters said Rossello is the party’s key leader, compared to 21% who identified Pierluisi, 12% who named Rivera, and 5% who picked Rossello’s father. In March, 34% named Rossello, 27% chose Pierluisi, 24% picked Rivera, and 11% former Gov. Rossello in the same poll.
  • Among all voters, 36% identified Ricardo Rossello as the key party leader, 27% Pierluisi, 12% Rivera, and 6% the elder Rossello. This also was a change from the answers to the March survey. Then, Ricardo Rossello barely edged Rivera 27% to 26%, with Pierluisi at 17%, and ex-Gov. Rossello at 7%.

Pierluisi, however, was much more highly regarded than Gov. Garcia. Forty-one percent approve of his job performance vs. 28% who do not. This is a dramatic improvement from the poll in March when his job approval percentage was 31% and disapproval rating was 39%. It is also an improvement from April 2013, when 36% of those polled approved of his work and 34% disapproved.

Fourteen percent of voters would give the Resident Commissioner an “A” for his representation of Puerto Rico, 26% a “B”, 13% a “D” and 18% an “F”. This compares with the following grades in the April 2013 survey: “A”, 9%; “B”, 28%; “D”, 16%; and “F” 10%.

Asked to agree or disagree with various statements regarding Pierluisi,

  • 53% said he had represented Puerto Rico well in Washington, DC,
  • 52% that he was trustworthy,
  • 52% that he makes the right decisions even if the decisions are difficult,
  • 65% disagreed with the statement that he treats those who disagree with him arrogantly vs. only 25% who agreed, and
  • 52% disagreed that he puts his party over the people vs. 36% who agreed.

Voters were split, however, on other statements:

  • 45% to 45% on whether the Resident Commissioner inspires confidence;
  • 41% to 41% on whether he is capable;
  • 46% disagreed on whether he understands Puerto Rico’s problems vs. 45% who agreed;
  • 45% disagreed that he had acted quickly on the territory’s most important problems but 44% agreed that he had;
  • 43% disagreed that he tells the truth but 42% said he does; and
  • 48% disagreed that he has been an effective leader of his party compared with 42% who agreed with the statement.

The poll has a margin of error of 3%, so the results on the questions in which voters were split on Pierluisi’s record and characteristics are not definitive.

The poll was conducted October 20-25. One thousand scientifically selected voters were interviewed by a top professional firm for newspaper El Nuevo Dia, which has generally been much more favorable to commonwealthers than to statehooders.

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