A new poll of Puerto Ricans in Florida indicates that 84 percent plan to vote in the upcoming November elections, while 14 percent said they would probably vote.
Just 2 percent said they would not go to the polls, according to the 504 Puerto Ricans surveyed by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a progressive leaning pro-labor group, and Latino Decision.
Hillary Clinton would appear to the big winner, while in the U.S. Senate race Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy has much work to do to raise his profile among Puerto Ricans.
Clinton holds a big lead over Donald Trump, with 61 percent certain they will vote for Clinton and another 13 percent leaning toward Clinton. Meanwhile, 12 percent are certain they’ll support Trump, with an additional 5 percent indicating weak support for the Republican candidate. About 78 percent of Puerto Ricans have a negative view of Trump, according to the poll.
The poll, conducted in mid September, is unique for focusing on the Puerto Rican electorate. Such polls are hard to come by in Florida, although the Puerto Rican population has doubled since 2000, reaching 1 million.
Puerto Ricans make up about 27 percent of Florida’s Hispanic eligible voters, just below the 30 percent of Cubans who are eligible to vote, according to Pew Research Center. That translates to about 700,000 Puerto Rican voters versus 800,000 Cuban voters.
Therein lies the increasing fascination with the Puerto Rican vote. “The Puerto Rican voting bloc is set to become a major influencer in shaping the 2016 elections,” the organization stated.
Interest in the election is high among Puerto Ricans, yet they are not being courted.
About 59 percent of Puerto Ricans polled said they talk about the elections either every day or several times a week. Yet, 63 percent said they had not been approached by a community group or political party to support a candidate or register to vote.
Rubio versus Murphy
The poll brought bad news for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy. Only 44 percent of Puerto Ricans polled backed Murphy, a virtual tie with incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio, who got 42 percent. Among those certain about their vote, Murphy had slight advantage, 34 percent to 30 percent for Rubio. However, the difference falls within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.
That is revealing finding. Puerto Ricans in Florida tend to lean Democrat, yet they are splitting the vote with Republican Rubio. Worse still, 47 percent of Puerto Ricans polled said they didn’t know enough about Murphy.
With about a month left to the November elections, half of Puerto Ricans in the poll know little about Murphy, who has been absent from the Central Florida campaign scene.
That’s an advantage for Rubio, who has name recognition. Although Puerto Ricans have issues with Rubio’s position on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis – 82 percent of Puerto Ricans polled said they favor more economic aid to Puerto Rico – 41 percent view him favorably, while 43 percent said they have a negative view of Rubio.
What Concerns Puerto Rican Voters
Economy / jobs / unemployment 33%
Health care / insurance 19%
Immigration / deportations 13%
Education / schools 12%
Puerto Rican debt / financial crisis 11%
Anti-Latino / immigrant discrimination 10%
Terrorism / national Security / ISIS 7%
Stop Trump / anything negative Trump 7%
Something else 6%
Crime / safety 5%
˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor