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Democrats Twice as Likely as Republicans to Support D.C., Puerto Rico Statehood: Poll

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Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to support making Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia states, according to a new poll.

The poll, released Thursday by The Hill/HarrisX, found that although Americans in general are divided on the issue of statehood for Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, a substantial difference of opinion existed depending on political party affiliation.

While 51 percent of Democrats supported statehood for D.C., only 24 percent of Republicans agreed. A nearly identical result was seen on the question of Puerto Rico statehood, with 25 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of Democrats agreeing that the island territory should enter the union.

Among all Americans, a slim plurality of 36 percent supported statehood for both D.C. and Puerto Rico. It was opposed by 32 percent for D.C. and 29 percent for Puerto Rico, with another 35 percent being neutral about statehood for Puerto Rico and 32 percent being neutral for the District of Columbia.

The question was also asked in relation to the territories of Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Results were similar, with roughly double the support for statehood among Democrats when compared to Republicans. Overall support was lower than it was for both D.C. and Puerto Rico, with pluralities saying they were neutral for all three territories.

The poll was conducted online among 1,882 registered voters between March 24 and March 26. It has a margin of error of 2.26 percent.

Residents of Washington, D.C. rally in favor of statehood outside the U.S. Capitol building on March 22, 2021.
Drew Angerer/Getty

Debates over whether Puerto Rico or D.C. should become states have been ongoing for decades but have become more partisan in recent years, largely due to a perception that admitting them as new states could tilt the makeup of Congress in favor of Democrats.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing last week to debate a D.C. statehood bill from Democratic D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. Proponents of the bill said that D.C. residents have a right to statehood regardless of partisan considerations because they pay billions of dollars in federal taxes but have no representatives who can vote in Congress. Republican opponents described the effort as a Democratic “power grab.”

Although Washington, D.C. voters do tend to cast overwhelmingly Democratic ballots, the situation in Puerto Rico is far less clear. Pedro Pierluisi, the island’s current governor, is affiliated with Democrats and endorsed President Joe Biden in 2020. The previous governor, Wanda Vázquez Garced, is aligned with Republicans and was a supporter of former President Donald Trump. Both are members of the New Progressive Party, which advocates for statehood.

It has been over 60 years since any new states were admitted to the union, while a gap of over 40 years existed before that. The most recently added states, Hawaii and Alaska, both gained statehood in 1959.

The Liberty Buzz reached out to the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee for comment.

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