Poll shows support steady for Puerto Rico statehood
Support for admitting Puerto Rico as a state is steady, according to a new poll, with a majority of American adults in favor of it.
The Gallup poll shows 66 percent of Americans support Puerto Rican accession, while 27 percent oppose it and 7 percent have no opinion.
Comparatively, both support and opposition are at their highest recorded levels. Previous Gallup polls conducted in 1962, 1979 and 1991 showed slightly lower support and slightly lower opposition, but a much larger proportion of respondents with no opinion.
“I’m happy the nation has understood that Puerto Ricans are American citizens and we have fought for our nation in every war,” said Del. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-P.R.).
“I think there’s been a lot of work on education after the hurricane, in which a lot of people realized that Puerto Rico is a part of the United States,” she added.
González-Colón, along with embattled Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D), is a top proponent of Puerto Rican statehood.
Puerto Rican voters have twice voted for statehood in unbinding referenda in 2012 and 2017.
Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, organized as a free associated state since 1952. A 2016 Supreme Court case found Puerto Rico’s sovereignty to reside in the United States Congress, spurring internal support for statehood.
“I think Puerto Rican statehood will happen, the question is when. This is a civil rights demand,” said González-Colón.
According to the Gallup poll, Americans are politically divided on support for statehood.
While 83 percent of Democrats support Puerto Rican accession and only 11 percent oppose it, 45 percent of Republicans support the idea and 48 percent oppose it. Among independents, 69 percent support statehood and 25 percent oppose it.
The poll also found age and racial gaps — 80 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds support statehood, that number drops down to 65 percent among 30- to 49-year-olds, 66 percent among 50- to 64-year-olds and 58 percent among those 65 and older.
Among whites, support for statehood is at 63 percent, while 74 percent of nonwhites support statehood.
There is currently one active statehood bill in Congress, presented by Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) in March.
The bill, a straight admission bill that could technically make Puerto Rico a state before 2020, is being reviewed by the House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees U.S. territories.
One of the most vocal proponents of statehood, Rosselló, is currently embroiled in a scandal, and protesters have taken to the streets of San Juan to demand his resignation.
Two former Rosselló administration officials have been charged by the federal government of directing public contracts to favored businesses.
And Rosselló is involved in a personal scandal after the release of lewd group text messages in which he was personally involved in disparaging political opponents.
“I think those chats, like it or not, those chats are crippling to that administration,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chairman of the Natural Resources Committee.
Grijalva added that the scandals would not necessarily derail accession bills and that he would consult with Soto to hold a hearing on the bill after the August recess.
But the ongoing scandal in Puerto Rico is unlikely to change people’s minds about statehood, said Grijalva.
“For people that oppose it, [the scandal] becomes a rationale; for people that are for it here, some are going to see [statehood] as a cure to that. You see what I mean? Now you’re going to be under the same regulatory oversight that states are,” said Grijalva.
The poll was conducted with a random sample of 1,018 adults in the 50 states and the District of Columbia from June 19 to 30, with a margin of error of 4 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level, according to Gallup.
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