“Exodus From Puerto Rico Could Sway Election”
The Washington Post, July 27, 2015, p.A1
“Puerto Rico’s economic crisis meant Jeffrey Rondon, 25, struggled to find even part-time work, so he recently joined the growing exodus from his Caribbean island to Florida. Now he holds a full-time restaurant job and something that could upend the 2016 presidential election — the right to vote in Florida, the biggest of all swing states. ‘It’s important to vote and be heard — it’s a privilege,’ said Rondon, who is one of thousands of Puerto Ricans who have moved to Florida in the past year. As U.S. citizens, Puerto Ricans are relatively easy to register to vote, and they are attracting unprecedented attention because they could change the political calculus in a state that President Obama won by the thinnest of margins in 2012: 50 percent to 49.1 percent. … Puerto Rican voters tend to lean Democratic, but a great number of the newcomers do not identify with any party, making them appealing targets for politicians and recruiters on both sides. Like those living in other U.S. territories, people in Puerto Rico cannot vote for president in the U.S. general election. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who is leading the large number of Republican presidential candidates in Florida polls, recently made a high-profile visit to Puerto Rico. On Monday, he will address three separate gatherings in Orlando, and among those with whom he is meeting are many Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, has visited the island in the past and polled very well with Puerto Ricans when she ran for president in 2008. … Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth, has been struggling with $72 billion in debt and soaring unemployment. The Pew Research Center calculates that the island’s population dropped by 11,000 people a year in the 1990s, but between 2010 and 2013, the loss accelerated to 48,000 a year. This year, with economic problems growing, the number leaving for the mainland is even higher.”
Quickie analysis: One reason US elections are always interesting: you never know exactly who’s in the electorate from year to year.