The upcoming Puerto Rico plebiscite, scheduled for June 11, focuses on the question of whether Puerto Rican voters want statehood or independence/free association. Following the vote, Congress should take action to make the preferred status official. How do the people of the mainland U.S. feel about Puerto Rico as State #51?
Rasmussen Reports, a respected news polling organization, found in a new poll that Americans would choose Puerto Rico over Washington, D.C. as the 51st state.
They conducted a national survey of 1,000 American adults last month and discovered that 40% of respondents now believe that Puerto Rico should be a state. Last time the survey was conducted, in 2013, 35% favored statehood for Puerto Rico.
In both years, about 39% opposed statehood for Puerto Rico. The remaining 21% were undecided, leaving the pro-statehood faction with a slight majority.
“Far fewer,” says Rasmussen, would accept statehood for Washington, D.C.
A 2016 YouGov poll of 1,992 Americans living in the states found that 29% of those surveyed favored statehood. The same poll found that fewer than half of respondents knew that Puerto Ricans were citizens. It seems likely that those who don’t realize that Puerto Ricans are citizens could have a different understanding of the idea of statehood for Puerto Rico from those who realize that Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens for a century. In any case, 29% was the largest group and statehood was the most popular option.
A 1998 Gallup poll found that 30% of the mainland Americans surveyed wanted statehood for Puerto Rico — again the largest percentage for any of the options presented.
One difference between polls in the States and polls on the Island is that mainland respondents are more likely to choose independence for Puerto Rico than residents of Puerto Rico are. One reason may be that many people in the States are confused about the current status of Puerto Rico. Unaware that Puerto Ricans are citizens, they may not understand why Puerto Rico is not independent already.
Puerto Rico is currently an unincorporated territory of the United States. Puerto Ricans are citizens of the U.S. but cannot vote in presidential elections and do not have a voting representative in Congress.