The issues in front of Puerto Ricans are complex, and many are downstream effects of the territory’s dire financial situation. Davila worries most about public education, as the university system and local schools have all faced funding cuts, and student protests have sparked as young people have defaulted on loans and felt the pressures of rising costs.
Fabiola Torres, a biological-science technician for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Lajas, plans to vote in one of the primaries and also sees education as a key issue. “They are trying to change some public schools to private schools,” she says, which would increase costs. Torres is also concerned about the health-care system, which faces its own crisis as lower Medicare and Medicaid rates push doctors to the mainland, emigration leaves sicker people behind, and the threat of Zika looms.
Social issues, while more distant than the pressing economic and health-care issues, are also important for Puerto Rican voters, according to Carrillo. For Carrillo, solidarity for Latino citizens and immigrants on the mainland is important. “The Latino community nationwide, we need economic help,” Carrillo says. “We need to get immigration reform done for our immigrant brothers and sisters.”
So who will win? Senator Marco Rubio supports statehood, while Donald Trump and Governor John Kasich support self-determination, both of which endear them to some pro-statehood organizers on the island. However, Rubio has also opposed the option of Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, which has angered many Puerto Ricans. Senator Ted Cruz has remained silent on the issue. On the Democratic side, Clinton does not have an official campaign promise on the issue, although she has said that she would “ensure whatever choice Puerto Rico makes will be respected.” Carrillo has been convinced that she will work for a resolution. Senator Bernie Sanders has explicitly endorsed only the ability for Puerto Rico to be provided bankruptcy protections.
Torres recognized Rubio and Trump by their name value—both candidates have invested the most on the island—and Carrillo has seen an uptick in Trump support. However, PredictWise’s market-based predictions put Rubio in a commanding lead in the Republican primary on Sunday, with a 77 percent chance of winning. He will look to solidify that commanding lead and his hold on all of Puerto Rico’s delegates with a rally tomorrow night. While some Trump surrogates on the island are mounting a last-minute push, the Republican primary appears to be Rubio’s to lose.
The June 5 Democratic-caucus predictions are much cloudier. No polls or PredictWise data exist yet this far out. However, Clinton has already racked up key endorsements from prominent Puerto Rican figures, and many Puerto Ricans fondly remember her visit as first lady to the island in 1998, after the astonishing devastation of Hurricane Georges. “In our worst times, Clinton came here,” recalls Carrillo. These accomplishments may already be more than enough for Clinton, given how late the election is and the difficulty of scoring big wins or suffering big losses in the Democrats’ favored proportional systems.