Is the U.S. Dragging Its Feet on Statehood for Puerto Rico? Cont'd

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

This reader doubts that Puerto Rican statehood will get any real hearing any time soon because, like everything in Washington, partisanship rules:

The starting point for Puerto Rico’s prospects as a state is that any Representatives or Senators it would send to Washington would be Democrats. Thus, as long as the GOP can either (a) hold a majority in the House, or (b) maintain a filibuster in the Senate, Puerto Rico will not be granted statehood.

For some perspective, a proposal in 2009 to grant the District of Columbia merely one voting member in Congress had to be offset by the creation of another House seat in Utah, which is solidly Republican, because D.C. overwhelming votes Democrat. But even that attempt failed, back when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. (The sticking point was a Republican amendment over guns.) Statehood for Puerto Rico would add not just multiple representatives from the Dem-heavy new state but, of course, two whole senators. So the chances of statehood seem nonexistent under a Republican-controlled Congress, or even one where they have the power to filibuster.

From another reader via hello@:

Declaring “support” for Puerto Rican statehood has long been part and parcel of the Republican playbook. But it’s a campaigning canard meant to attract Puerto Ricans in the United States—nothing more.

Specifically Puerto Ricans in Florida, a key swing state, where they could be a “game changer” this presidential election, according to an in-depth analysis from Kate Linthicum of the Los Angeles Times. She notes:

Since 2000, the Puerto Rican population in Florida has doubled to more than 1 million, according to the Pew Research Center. At that rate, Florida will soon surpass New York as the state with the largest Puerto Rican population in the U.S.

And Puerto Ricans in Florida tend to be more politically moderate than their counterparts in New York, offering up more opportunities for a moderate Republican presidential candidate to win their support—especially one who happens to be a Latino U.S. senator from Florida. (Several polls show Rubio and Clinton neck-in-neck among Floridians in a general election.)