Gallup has released a new poll on Americans’ opinions on Puerto Rico statehood. The message is very clear: 66% of Americans favor statehood for Puerto Rico.
Gallup has been asking this question for years. In 1963, 65% of Americans favored statehood for Puerto Rico, and this has been the majority position ever since.
Some groups of Americans are stronger supporters than others. Notably, 80% of people ages 18 to 29 support Puerto Rico statehood, indicating that statehood support on the mainland is poised to grow in the future.
In addition, Gallup found that 74% of nonwhites are in favor of statehood, as are 63% of whites.
Among Democrats, 83% said they support statehood for Puerto Rico. Republicans answering the Gallup poll were split 45% for and 48% against. In its narrative, Gallup explains that “Just before Gallup put this latest poll into the field, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that admitting Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., as U.S. states would amount to ‘full-bore socialism’.”
In fact, McConnell’s “full-bore socialism” comment referred to several Democratic political positions and not necessarily to statehood. McConnell has previously claimed that House Democrats have a socialist agenda.
Second, Gallup mentioned that President’s Trump said he was an “absolute no” on statehood for Puerto Rico. However, the context makes a big difference to that claim as well.
The remark in question was from an interview with Geraldo Rivera, in which Trump said, “I will tell you this, with the mayor of San Juan as bad as she is, and as incompetent as she is, Puerto Rico shouldn’t be talking about statehood until they get some people that really know what they’re doing… And if you have good leadership, Geraldo, that certainly could be something they talk about. But with people like that involved in Puerto Rico, I would be an absolute no.”
Taken in its entirety, the “absolute no” appears to be related to President Trump’s feud with Carmen Yulín Cruz, the Mayor of San Juan. The president might have a very different opinion on statehood for Puerto Rico with different leadership on the Island.
In fact, Mr. Trump has made just one official statement on Puerto Rico, which he issued as a candidate. “There are 3.7 million American citizens living in Puerto Rico,” begins the statement, “[a]s citizens, they should be entitled to determine for themselves their political status.”
Republicans, including Republican presidents, have long supported statehood for Puerto Rico. The current Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, the territory’s only representative in the U.S. Congress, is herself a Republican, as Puerto Rico’s Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and Speaker of the House Carlos Johnny Méndez.
Gallup concludes: “Puerto Rico’s status has been debated for decades both among Puerto Ricans themselves and mainland Americans, who haven’t seen a new state admitted in 60 years. What Puerto Rico shares with the 49th and 50th states is that Americans have repeatedly expressed support for its statehood over time, as was the case when Gallup polled on the prospect of admitting Alaska and Hawaii in the 1940s and ’50s.”