New Poll Shows Puerto Rico Statehood Ahead — on the Mainland

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.

4 Comments

Dean Rock

With all due respect, I’m shocked at the incompetence surrounding previous referendums. I’m also appalled by the roles people have played in suppressing the vote and/or distorting the outcome by flawed poll questions. I’m unsure if this underscores how much of a mess Puerto Rico has become, or if people are being obtuse intentionally. Perhaps it’s both.
Frankly, I’m not sure Puerto Rico deserves to become a state. Having visited the territory several times in the past decade for extended vacations, I’m shocked in the poorness of its infrastructure and the lack of “care” for the island itself. A trip out east from Isla Verde through Carolina left me heartbroken, with all the emaciated dogs and litter on the sides of the narrow, overused road, not to mention the apparent poverty people were living in. I realize there are places like this in most every country. But in a sentence, it seems that Puerto Ricans don’t share a universal pride in their homeland. Far from it, in fact.
I’m not sure statehood will make this disappear. But then again, the current path is clearly one of self-destruction.
Perhaps Puerto Rico has been in limbo as a U.S. Territory for almost 120 years for good reasons. The people have had ample time to improve their quality of life, but in my opinion, have not made the most of it. In the United States, it seems the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, but not to the extent of what exists in PR. Here, it seems everyone gets poorer, and I don’t mean just financially.
The above comments are mostly based on my limited experience and little research. Perhaps I’m way off base. Or, maybe I’m right about my observations. In the end, only people who want to be helped AND are willing to help will make any option work. I hope if there’s a vote for statehood, and if there is, it’s an overwhelming majority. The U.S. has already become a country divided politically. The last thing we need is a territory where barely only half its people want to even be a state, regardless of political affiliation. So … my advice to anyone pushing for statehood would be:
1. Be transparent. Don’t manipulate words to alter an outcome.
2. Educate voters FULLY on what it means to be a U.S. state vs. independent nation (this is extremely challenging).
3. Update voters with polls (don’t use the same folks we used to predict the Clinton vs. Trump election!).

I’m here on March 17, 2017. There is a major vote less than 2 months away. I’ve seen members of Union 610 boycotting out front of El San Juan Casino, but I’ve heard or seen no mention of a big upcoming vote. Shame on those of the state for not doing more on the streets. Perhaps you are reaching people in less touristy spots or via different methods. Regardless, this site should have a fair and honest poll updating viewers weekly (if not daily) what the consensus is. Does such a poll exist? Why not?
I think June 11, 2017 is arguably the most important date in Puerto Rico’s future. I hope the outcome, whatever it is, truly reflects what its citizens desire.

Reply
caren reys

I been to area of Puerto Rico it is depressing but when you have to come from cities like Gary in and other cities in the USA you might want to think twice before talking negative of Puerto Rico and its people.

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Emma Batista

Puerto Rico necesita una persona de mano dura una persona que sepa amar a la humanidad una persona que de verdad haga bien el trabajo como gobernador ya estamos cansados de la mentira tenemos que votar por la estadías para que se acabe está estafa. Por nuestros hijos nuestros ancianos y por nuestra salud votemos por la estadidad.

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Emma Batista

Puerto Rico You need a hard-working person That a person knows how to love Humanity That a real person seeks Do the Work As governor and We are tired of the lie WE HAVE TO VOTE FOR STAY FOR THIS SCAM IS ACHIEVED. For Our Children Our elders and for our health we vote for the statehood.

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