November 18, 2017

Will Puerto Rico turn Florida blue?

The state of Florida, population 21 million, currently has 29 electoral votes.

On the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton lost Florida to Donald Trump by 112,911 votes (Trump’s 4,617,886 – Hillary’s 4,504,975).

In 20189,000 Puerto Ricans left the island for the States, with Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Connecticut (in order of preference) receiving the largest numbers. Central Florida, especially, has a growing Puerto Rican presence.

Fast-forward to Hurricane Maria’s aftermath.

The island has been devastated. The entire electrical grid was wiped out. Hundreds of thousands of people have nothing left but the clothes they’re wearing. They have no jobs to go to, since entire areas were wiped out: businesses, residences, buildings, name it.

I heard on PR talk radio that now Puerto Ricans are leaving at a rate of 3,000 per day; essentially, as fast as the commercial airlines can carry them. The lines at the airport are so long that the airlines are asking passengers to arrive at least six hours ahead of time.

Most will initially stay with relatives.

And understandably so.

Imagine, if you may, that your savings were depleted from emergency expenditures from Hurricane Irma. Then Hurricane Maria strikes, totaling your car and your house with everything in it. Your cash is gone by now, and then you find out that your job is gone, too. Your relative(s) in Orlando offer to pay for your one-way plane ticket, so you can have a place to stay with running water, electricity and food (which are lacking in Puerto Rico, and you have no money and no job), until you find work. They will buy you clothes so you can go job hunting.

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You accept their offer, and have your relative(s) apply on line for jobs so you can at least start on the job hunt.

You arrive with a small wheelie containing all you own. You are an American citizen and are acting entirely within the law.

Now multiply this by a few hundred thousand people.

Already 300 children arriving from Puerto Rico have enrolled in Orlando’s public schools, and 100 in Kissimmee.

On September 26 I estimated that at least a million Puerto Ricans are coming to the 50 States in the next six months. The rate so far is 3,000/day; for my estimate to be correct, it’d need to double.

Now here’s the problem for the Republicans: How are you reaching out to this newly-arrived demographic of voters, unprecedented in size and circumstances, coming from an area so imbued in the Democrat machinery that the pro-statehood Governor was a DNC delegate for Hillary in 2008 and for Obama in 2012?

There are a lot more than just 29 electoral votes involved. Read the rest here.

Photo by anttilipponen

About FaustaW 58 Articles
Fausta Wertz was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She’s a graduate of the University of Georgia and has an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She blogs at Fausta’s blog on American and Latin American politics, news, current events and culture.