Statehood Is a Bipartisan Issue

Research organization Data for Progress recently surveyed 1,282 U.S. citizens about statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.

They found that support for statehood for Puerto Rico is much stronger than support for statehood for the nation’s capitol. More than half the respondents (53%) favored statehood for Puerto Rico. 67% of those who voted for Democrats in the last election wanted statehood for Puerto Rico. Republicans were less likely to choose statehood for Puerto Rico, but even less likely to favor statehood for Washington, D.C.

Further analysis of the data from that survey brings out the reasons people gave for and against statehood for Puerto Rico.

Against statehood

The most frequent reason Republicans said they did not want statehood for Puerto Rico was that they thought Puerto Rico would be a blue state — a state that supports Democrats.

In fact, Puerto Rico votes for Republicans and for Democrats. So do people of Puerto Rican heritage living in the States. Puerto Rico would most likely be a swing state.

Another common concern about statehood for Puerto Rico is that it would cost the United States money. As a territory of the United States, Puerto Rico already receives support from the United States government. However, the government has the option of giving Puerto Rico less than it would receive as a state.

The important point missed by people who focus on money is that Puerto Rico will doubtless be more prosperous as a state than it is as a territory. This has been true for all 32 territories that have become states, and there is no reason to think that Puerto Rico will be different. Puerto Rico will bring more to the table as a prosperous state.

Respondents also seemed to feel that there are already enough states, or that there was no reason to change Puerto Rico’s current status. We know that many Americans do not understand that Puerto Rico does not have equal rights as a territory, and it may be that this lack of knowledge leads to the feeling that there just isn’t any need for change.

For statehood

The most common reason for supporting statehood identified in this survey is simply that it’s the right thing to do: Puerto Rico deserves statehood, and the U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico have a right to equal representation.

Respondents also supported statehood because it is fair. Puerto Rico should be able to vote and should have equal rights, these supporters felt, because that is what’s right and fair.

There were also some who want Puerto Rico to have statehood because they need help and support after the 2017 hurricanes and this is a way to provide this needed support.

An opportunity to put more Democrats into Congress was not a strong position.

Both sides of the aisle

In general, Democrats were more likely to support statehood for Puerto Rico than Republicans were. It seems likely that one reason for this is the misconception that Puerto Rico would be a blue state. Statehood for Puerto Rico is actually part of the Republican Party political platform, and many Republican leaders support statehood for Puerto Rico.

Whether you tend to vote Republican, Democratic, or Independent, please contact your congressperson and let them know that you want statehood for Puerto Rico.

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