Washington, D.C. – Ahead of the second presidential debate, the Center for American Progress Action Fund and Latino Decisions released new polling of Puerto Rican voters in Florida. The battleground state is ground zero for campaigns mobilizing Latino voters, and the Puerto Rican voting bloc is set to become a major influencer in shaping the 2016 elections.
In the past year, the battleground state of Florida has experienced a major shift in demographics with the growth of the Puerto Rican population, specifically, in the region known as the I-4 Corridor. With more than one million Puerto Ricans in Florida, the group has become an integral part of the new rising electorate of non-Cuban Hispanic voters in the state.
“The Puerto Rican vote is a new dynamic in both Florida and the country,” stated Angela Kelley, the Executive Director of Center for American Progress Action Fund. “In this election, Puerto Ricans are the story within the story of the Latino vote. They hold a lot of sway in a key swing state. Candidates who ignore this constituency may be kicking themselves on November 9th.”
The poll, conducted by Latino Decision, found strong support for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with a commanding lead of 74-17 over Donald Trump, while also finding that Puerto Rican voters in Florida favor candidates who support progressive policies, such as greater spending for pre-K program and public schools, immigration reform with a path to citizenship, expanding Medicaid and raising the minimum wage.
Equally important, the survey also found that interest in Puerto Rico is an election issue and very much on the minds of Puerto Ricans in Florida. 82% reported they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported economic aid to Puerto Rico to address the financial crisis.
“This survey gives us much-needed insight on the Puerto Rican electorate in Florida. There is no question that they will be a significant factor in the outcome of this election,” Sylvia Manzano of Latino Decisions.
Among the key findings in the poll:
- Florida Puerto Rican voters will show up to the polls. Fully 84% of the sample of registered voters indicated they would “definitely” vote, and only 2% stated their intention to sit out the 2016 election. This intention to vote falls closely in line with the importance of the outcome of the election. Asked “does it matter who wins the 2016 presidential election,” 84% responded that “it matters a lot,” another 8% that “it matters somewhat,” and only 6% states that “it does not really matter who wins.
- Economy and progressive policies matter. According to the survey findings, Florida Puerto Rican voters identified the economy and jobs as the most important issue. The overwhelming majority also said they were likelier to vote for candidates who would support emergency Zika funding in Florida (85%), promise greater spending on pre-K programs and public schools (84%), setting strict clean air standards and increasing clean energy use and jobs (80%), creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (77%), expanding Medicaid to increase coverage for low-income people (76%), and raising the minimum wage to $15/hour (76%). These policy views, across the board, are consistent with the strong support for Hillary Clinton and the opposition to Donald Trump.
- Hillary Clinton commanding lead 74-17: In the presidential race, FL Puerto Rican voters in the survey overwhelmingly favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Asked how they would vote “if the election was held today,” 61% are certain they will vote for Clinton, with an additional 13% lean toward voting for Clinton. By contrast, only 12% are certain of their support for Trump, with an additional 5% who support Trump more weakly. Very few Puerto Ricans from Florida would vote for a third party candidate or remain uncertain how they will vote.
- Hillary Clinton 68% favorable, Donald Trump 78% unfavorable. This one-sided preference for Senator Clinton over Mr. Trump is reinforced by measures of favorability. Asked about their “favorable or unfavorable opinion,” 68% viewed Clinton favorably (46% very favorably) while only 15 viewed Trump favorably (only 8% very favorably). On the other side of the coin, fully 78% viewed Trump unfavorably (70% very unfavorably) while 26% had an unfavorable opinion of Clinton (with 16% very unfavorable).
- Close Senate vote Rubio 42%, Murphy 44%. If the election were held today, 44% would vote for Murphy and 42% for Rubio, a difference that is within the margin of error for this study. Among those who are certain about their vote, Murphy enjoys a slight advantage, 34% to 30% for Rubio.
- On the issue of Puerto Rico: The interest in Puerto Rico is definitely an election issue for voters. 82% reported they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported economic aid to Puerto Rico and its people to address the financial crisis in the island. Asked specifically about how important candidates’ views on Puerto Rico and island issues were to their vote choice, a majority of 78% said it was important to them.
The complete findings can be found here: