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Puerto Rico--No. 51?
Will Puerto Rico become a state?

Date published: 11/8/2012

PUERTO RICAN politics is not something we scrupulously monitor, but our man in San Juan--OK, The Associated Press--notes an interesting development there on Election Day. Islanders ousted Gov. Luis Fortuno, who would like to see the U.S. commonwealth become the 51st state, but approved a pro-statehood ballot question opposed by the winning candidate, Alejandro Garcia Padilla. So where does that leave Puerto Rico, Old Glory, and U.S. partisan politics?

Not an easy question. A Puerto Rican delegation will now ask Congress to admit the island into the Union as a state, but Congress may respectfully decline. Even if 100 percent of Puerto Ricans want statehood, it's not an automatic pass to that status. Both Republican and Democratic Congress members might hesitate out of base political motives. Either party could be burned if Puerto Ricans, just like Nebraskans or Oregonians, had the right to vote in U.S. general elections.

Puerto Ricans who now live in New York and other Northeastern cities tend to vote Democratic. However, those who have recently left the island and settled in Florida are a more mixed lot. They may end up voting like Floridians of Cuban heritage, about 75 percent of whom supported Mitt Romney. Even a Democratic official admitted to the Guardian newspaper that first-generation Puerto Ricans in Florida are social conservatives who don't like abortion or approve of gay marriage--Democratic positions.

Yet 70 percent of Hispanics nationwide voted for Barack Obama, and ethnic Puerto Ricans don't like the nativist bile on the GOP far right any more than do ethnic Mexicans.

In short, both parties have some trepidation about creating a state with three unreliable electoral votes. So Old Glory probably won't require any needlework any time soon.