From The Huffington Post to The Economist, journalists have said that Puerto Rico can’t become the 51st state because Republicans won’t allow another blue state to join the Union.
The assumption is that Puerto Rico, once statehood is achieved, will vote Democratic.
In fact, it is impossible to predict how Puerto Rico will vote. Here’s why:
- Parties in Puerto Rico are different from those on the mainland. They center on the question of status. Rather than voting Democratic because their parents did, Puerto Ricans will choose the candidate who best represents their views.
- Puerto Ricans are typically more socially conservative than the Democratic party on the mainland. We saw this in the recent survey of Puerto Rican voters in Florida and in the decision by a federal judge in Puerto Rico to uphold the ban on gay marriage.
- Predictions about how territories will vote have historically been inaccurate. For example, it was widely believed that Hawaii would be a red state and Alaska a blue one. It is in fact the other way around.
- States change their minds, too. The Southern Dixiecrats were actually a different political party from the Democrats, but the South was so heavily Democratic at one time that this was forgotten. Now, Southern states tend to vote Republican.
- The idea that Puerto Rico would vote Democrat is in part based on voting patterns among mainland Hispanic voters. However, the majority of current U.S. Latino voters have Mexican roots, not Puerto Rican. Deciding that Puerto Ricans would follow the pattern of Mexican Americans is a lot like deciding that the French would be in political sync with Hatians. They might… or they might not.
Which party will get the votes of Puerto Rico’s voters will depend on which party is best able to show that they are prepared to support Puerto Rico’s right to self-determination and full citizenship. Right now, both major political parties say they support this in their platforms.
It shouldn’t matter. Neither party has a monopoly on civil rights. Self-determination for Puerto Rico is a bipartisan issue. Let your legislators know that this issue is important to you — whichever party they represent, and whichever party you support.
This post was originally written in English and may be being auto-translated by Google.