Puerto Rican Growth in Florida

Florida’s Puerto Rican Population Surpasses 1 Million, Rivaling New York

In the 1950s, when large numbers of people from the territory of Puerto Rico moved to the States, New York City was the most popular place to go.  The New York Puerto Rican experience is an important part of American popular culture in music, theater, dance, and the visual arts.  The Puerto Rican Day Parade in the city and is still the most visible ‘Puerto Rican’ event in the States.

Although New York was once the center of the Nation’s population of Puerto Rican origin in the States, times have changed.  While there are significant Puerto Rican communities in Ohio, Massachusetts, Illinois, New Jersey, and Connecticut as well as growing populations in Texas and Georgia, Florida now has almost as many people of Puerto Rican origin as New York.  The graph above, courtesy of the Pew Research Center, shows the changes from 1980 through 2014.

The ever increasing numbers of people leaving the territory for the greater opportunities for a better life that a State offers are largely coming to Florida.  There are also people of Puerto Rican origin, however, moving from other States to Florida.

One of the consequences of the population change is that people of Puerto Rican origin may be important in the 2016 presidential election.  Florida is a large State in terms of population.  It may be a ‘swing State’ — a State where it’s hard to predict whether voters will choose a Republican or a Democratic candidate.

The new residents from Puerto Rico are considered ‘the swing vote of the swing State.’  In Puerto Rico they identify more with the New Progressive – statehood – party; the Popular Democratic Party, which has varying stances on the territory’s ultimate status; and the Independence Party.

Most move to Florida without a real allegiance to a national political party.

Polling shows that most favor or would welcome statehood and that resolving the question of the territory’s ultimate status is important to them.  They would vote for candidates who speak out for statehood.

Additionally, while they are more Democratic than Republican, there is evidence that they are conservative politically.

So, supporting a Republican is not unlikely if the Republican is committed to equality for Puerto Rico.

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