A recent poll by YouGov and The Economist tells us that people on the mainland — just a couple thousand randomly selected people — prefer statehood for Puerto Rico over independence or the current territory status.
- 20% think Puerto Rico should be an independent country.
- 25% think Puerto Rico should stick with the current status.
- 29% think Puerto Rico should be the 51st state of the Union.
That leaves 26% of the people surveyed with no answer; in fact, they chose “not sure.”
In Puerto Rico, most people are very sure which of the three possible options they want. 54% voted against keeping the current status in the last referendum in 2012. Of the other options possible under the U.S. Constitution, 61% voted for statehood. There’s not a lot of uncertainty there.
So why are people on the mainland mostly unsure about the best status for Puerto Rico? It isn’t just because they don’t live in Puerto Rico and believe that the people on the Island should make that decision.
It’s also because most of the respondents in the survey didn’t realize that the people of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens. Some 40% believed that Puerto Rico was a country and that the people of Puerto Rico are citizens of the nation of Puerto Rico, traveling on a Puerto Rican passport. Many more just picked “I don’t know.”Less than half of Americans know that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. Click To Tweet
So the 20% who believe that Puerto Rico should be an independent nation includes a lot of people who already thought Puerto Rico is an independent nation.
The 25% who think Puerto Rico should keep the current status probably aren’t all clear on what that status is.
And the people who chose statehood for Puerto Rico may include most of the folks who knew that people born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens.
So the bad news is that ignorance about Puerto Rico is still widespread. If this bothers you, please share this post with your friends. It’s time people got educated.
The good news is that there have been some changes.
A Washington Post survey in 1993 asked people their opinions of Puerto Rico’s status options. At that time, 40% of the respondents thought Puerto Rico should remain a territory. That number has changed significantly. Independence and statehood were tied at 24% in 1993. Now, more people see the value of statehood and fewer choose independence, which has never been a popular choice in Puerto Rico.
More people are uncertain now than in 1993, it appears. That could be an indication that people on the mainland are becoming aware that they don’t really understand Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States. Knowing what you don’t know can be the first step toward knowing more.