2.18.2007

Puerto Rico: Islanders Vote 'No Confidence'

The Puerto Rico Herald completed a survey on the views of island residents. While I’m not familiar with the Herald’s opinion survey expertise, the published findings do largely comport—unfortunately—with what I’ve seen elsewhere.

Summary: The survey shows that Puerto Rican residents: 1) are dramatically pessimistic in terms of the island's economy; 2) see crime and corruption as major problems; 3) show little confidence in Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila; 4) increasingly view statehood as a preferred option; 5) fear the U.S. Congress may restrict travel to the mainland; and 6) hold very conservative social views.

1) The Biggest Problems - When asked to identify the biggest problems facing Puerto Rico, survey respondents were unequivocal in their answers: the economy, crime/drugs and government corruption. Unemployment was the 4th largest concern. Unbelievably, health care, education, roads, and Puerto Rico’s status barely made a blip on the chart.

2) A Dismal Economy - On the issue of the Puerto Rico economy, respondents are gloomy and getting gloomier. Consider these findings:
- 66% say business conditions are bad (vs 44% in Aug.'04)
- 47% say business conditions will worsen in 6 months (vs 5% in Aug.'04)
- 66% say jobs are hard to get (vs 52% in Aug.'04)
- 58% say there will be fewer jobs in 6 months (vs 10% in Aug.'04)
- 25% say their total family income will be lower in 6 months (vs 5% in Aug.'04)
- 42% say they've considered moving to the U.S. mainland

3) An Ineffective Governor - On Anibal Acevedo Vila’s performance as governor, it’s a definitive case of no confidence: 73% say his job performance is fair or poor.

4) Puerto Rico Statehood Gains Support - On the issue of Puerto Rico statehood, the survey found strong and growing support for the option, including:
- 50% vote 'statehood' when given the 3 main options (38% for the status quo and 6% for independence)
- 67% vote 'statehood' if the U.S. Congress sponsors a vote on that option
- 74% vote 'statehood' (+7 pts from ’04) if the choice is between statehood and independence

5) Fear U.S. Immigration Crackdown May Restrict Islanders - On the issue of immigration reform, the survey uncovers a startling concern. Although Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, 34% still believe there’s a chance the U.S. Congress may restrict their movement to the U.S. mainland.

6) Puerto Rico’s Conservative Social Views - On the social issues, the survey found that Puerto Rico residents are quite conservative in their views. For example:
- Only 18% believe that abortion should be legal.
- 85% believe in parental notification for minors having an abortion.
- 91% believe marriage must be between a man and a woman.
- 86% believe prayer should be allowed in the schools.
- 75% believe in allowing the public display of the Ten Commandments.
- 68% favor a U.S. military presence in Puerto Rico.
- 57% favor instituting a system of charter schools.
- 51% favor private school vouchers.
- 95% favor English (along with Spanish) instruction in public schools.