YouGov found, back in 2016, that more than half of the Americans they surveyed didn’t know that Puerto Ricans are citizens. At that time, those surveyed chose statehood as the best status option for Puerto Rico — 29% favored statehood, compared with 25% who said Puerto Rico should continue as a territory and 20% choosing independence.
26% said they were not sure, which makes sense. After all, fewer than half even knew the people of Puerto Rico were citizens. How could they be expected to make an informed decision about Puerto Rico’s status?
Many Americans are still confused about the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico. People are startled to learn that Puerto Rico can’t vote in presidential elections and that the territory — home to 3.2 million U.S. citizens — has no voting representative in the Senate or the House. A common reaction to this news is that something should be done about it.
Many Americans don’t realize that states, not citizens, elect the President of the United States. Many don’t grasp that representation in the legislature is based on statehood.
The new YouGov poll shows that the position is becoming more clear to the average citizen on the street. Just three years later than the poll that showed only 43% of those surveyed knew Puerto Ricans were American citizens, the new data shows that 57% of those surveyed support statehood for Puerto Rico.
This figure is lower than the proportion who answered in this way in the recent Gallup poll, but it is nearly twice the number who supported statehood in the last YouGov poll just three years ago.
Only 17% opposed statehood for Puerto Rico.
Reasons to support or reject the idea of statehood for Puerto Rico ranged from concern that Puerto Rico would be too expensive for the United States, to a belief that adding Puerto Rico as the 51st state would benefit the U.S. financially. Other issues mentioned included the distance from the mainland to the U.S., the fact that Puerto Rico deserves statehood, and the belief that the United States already has enough people. These people of course already include the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico.