As Puerto Rico's economy falters, Democrats benefit

With Puerto Rico in a sustained economic decline and its government in arrears on debt, the exodus of its residents to the mainland is having a powerful benefit for the Democrats.  Alan Yuhas of the U.K. Guardian writes:

Facing a crisis of monumental proportions at home, tens of thousands of people are fleeing a Caribbean island in search of a better life in the United States….

Unable to pay its $73bn debt, Puerto Rico has begun rationing water, closing schools and watching its healthcare system collapse and 45% of its people living in poverty. Emigration to the mainland has accelerated in recent years, activists say, and data shows that from 2003 to 2013 there was a population swing of more than 1.5 million people.

“This new wave of immigration can be compared with the immigration in the 1930s and 40s,” said Edgardo González, coordinator of the Defenders of Puerto Rico, an activist group. The Great Depression and second world war spurred the so-called “Great Migration”, when tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans moved to New York every year for nearly two decades.

Now most Puerto Ricans are arriving in central Florida, González said, but many cannot find jobs or even housing. “Some might stay with family for a few weeks, but for those who don’t have family, people end up homeless because of the lack of services,” he said.

Once they arrive on the mainland, Puerto Ricans are immediately eligible to vote, and they support Democrats by a ratio of 3 to 1.

Richard Baehr notes that the arrival of most of them in Florida will have an impact on the state's congressional delegation, as well as its presidential vote.  

Florida is one of the states that now uses a commission to create congressional districts. Governor Rick Scott was OK with this, and it was a mistake, I think.  The state’s GOP used to gerrymander Florida very successfully (Marco Rubio was a part of this as majority leader) and held 19 of 25 seats.  Now their share of House seats has dropped to 17 of 27 (a gain of two for the state in the 2010 Census). 

Everyone knows how close the Florida vote was in Bush vs. Gore.  The arrival of a wave of Democrat-leaning Puerto Ricans can only help the 2016 nominee.

It doesn’t require much cynicism to imagine that President Obama will do nothing to help the Commonwealth with its problems, in order to spur the emigration of more people to the mainland, in order to help his political party win a crucial swing state.  So far, he has done little or nothing.  And of course, this is not an issue that anyone in the media wants to raise, while the GOP, generally hostile to bailouts, is unlikely to press for assistance.

All in all, things are going very well for the Democrats in 2016 and beyond.  Capitalizing on the suffering of people it keeps in misery is standard operating procedure for the party of compassion.

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