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Poll: Two-thirds of country favors statehood for Puerto Rico

By Alice Miranda Ollstein

Two in three Americans support statehood for the island of Puerto Rico, according to a Gallup Poll released Thursday morning.

The 66 percent support for admitting the island as the 51st state is consistent with polling dating to the early 1960s. Support is highest among Democrats, younger voters, and nonwhite voters. But while nearly half of Republicans also back the proposal, the party’s leaders do not.

President Donald Trump, who has disparaged Puerto Rico’s leadership and faced criticism for the federal government’s slow response to devastating Hurricane Maria, has said he is an "absolute no" on Puerto Rico statehood. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said granting the island statehood and full representation in Congress would be “full-bore socialism.”

The high level of public support for Puerto Rico statehood stands in stark contrast to the public’s overwhelmingly negative views on statehood for Washington, D.C., which most voters, including most Democrats, said they oppose in another recent Gallup Poll, and comes as political and legal turmoil rocks Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, a statehood advocate, is facing massive protests against his administration and calls to resign over leaked text messages and chats in which he disparaged political rivals in offensive terms.

While the island’s status has not yet become a major debate in the 2020 election cycle, the large Puerto Rican population in the key swing state of Florida may force candidates to go on the record on the question. Several Democratic contenders have already made campaign stops in Puerto Rico, and if the island moves its presidential primary up to March, its fate may take on even greater importance in the presidential race.