Among Puerto Rico residents with an opinion, a majority would favor statehood

Aug 18, 2015 by

Recent survey results show that among adults in Puerto Rico with an opinion on the matter, 60% want statehood for the island, according to this week’s Gaither International poll.

Respondents were asked a straight “statehood yes or no” question and weren’t asked about other status options such as the present commonwealth or independence, said Gilberto Castro de Armas, managing director at Gaither International.

Almost all key demographic groups would stand in favor of statehood for Puerto Rico, Gaither reported. The only exceptions were respondents ages 55 and older, whereby only 49% of them said they wanted statehood. By comparison, 69% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 54 said they would favor statehood.

Among men and women, 60% of respondents in both groups want statehood, Gaither said. Respondents in the lowest “lifestyle” levels, which refers to socioeconomic indicators, were more likely to favor statehood, doing so at a 65% rate. Residents outside the San Juan metro area were also more likely to support this status option; 61% said they want statehood compared with 56% for those in the metro region.

When viewed as a whole, the results show 40% said they want statehood for Puerto Rico, 27% are opposed and 33% have no opinion on the subject, Gaither reported.

Interestingly, men were more likely than women to have an opinion on the matter. Other demographic groups more likely to have an opinion include respondents 35 and older, those in the highest lifestyle levels and those living outside the metro region. Almost half of metro residents didn’t express an opinion on status.

The results are from Gaither International’s Ongoing Omnibus survey, which interviewed more than 600 people from among a representative sample of Puerto Rico’s population ages 18 and older. The interviews were conducted between July 29 and Aug. 6, 2015.

Gaither conducted a similar poll in 2009—after the November 2008 elections—in which 56% of respondents favored statehood.

Meanwhile, during the 2012 general elections, a Gaither poll consisting of 774 interviews showed 53% of respondents favored statehood, 40% sovereign commonwealth and 6% independence.

Castro de Armas agreed that Puerto Rico’s current fiscal and economic problems may have a bearing on whether respondents support statehood. “I believe it has a lot to do [with this],” he said. “Probably those who preferred not to answer the survey didn’t favor statehood in the past, but will probably endorse it now if asked in a plebiscite election. That is probably the main reason the current [Alejandro García Padilla] administration will stay away from the status issue,” he added.

The previous status referendum in Puerto Rico was held on Election Day in November 2012.

In the first question of the two-part November 2012 referendum, 54% of voters said they weren’t content with the current commonwealth status.

The second question asked what status was preferred. Of the about 1.3 million voters who made a choice, nearly 800,000 supported statehood, an estimated 437,000 backed sovereign free association and 72,560 chose independence. However, nearly 500,000 voters left that question blank.

Last year, the governor said his aim was to hold another status plebiscite by the end of the current political term that runs through 2016. With Puerto Rico mired in a fiscal and economic crisis, the likelihood of another referendum on status by next year seems highly unlikely. 

Polling is conducted by Gaither International and results are reported exclusively by CARIBBEAN BUSINESS.

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