Puerto Rico: What its six districts would look like if it were a state

I like to think of interesting topics for diaries and this is one that came to me. If Puerto Rico was a state it would have six seats. I looked at the census data, did a spreadsheet and filled in my map based on my calculations. I took a few guesses on splitting municipalities, so the deviations aren’t exact at all. It would be nice if this was made available on the Redistricting App if possible (obvious hint to Dave), so everyone could work with this just for hypotheticals.


Now, since Puerto Rico has no presidential vote, it’s hard to say how any of these districts would vote or how they’d lean. Since Puerto Rico has it’s own parties, I assume elections would be decided on issues relating to those parties and it doesn’t seem to heavily lean toward either of the main ones there. Many in the PPD align with Democrats, while the PNP has a mix of those who align with the US parties, with those leaning toward Republicans having the edge.


Mayaguez anchors this district. Looking at previous election results, the PPD  seems to do very well in and around Mayaguez, so it would probably lean PPD/Dem.


Ponce is the population center and leans PPD, but it also includes many of lower population density areas, which seem to lean PNP. I would guess it would be a toss-up.


Toa Alta and Toa Baja make up the biggest share of population here, both of which have PNP mayors and seem to vote PNP in most gubernatorial elections, which indicates a PNP lean for this district.


Bayamon is largest municipality and has a pronounced PNP lean, but PPD leaning Cauguas makes a up a good share of the district as well, which adds balance. It might be a toss-up or slight PNP lean.


The capital of San Juan anchors the district smallest in size. San Juan swings between both parties, with a slight edge to PPD. PPD leaning Carolina is also a portion of this district, which should equal a PPD edge overall for this district.


Has a portion of PPD leaning Carolina, but all the rest, save for Humacao, leans PNP. It doesn’t appear that there is a huge edge toward either side, so I’d all it a toss-up.

Overall, none of this analysis counts for much, as we have no idea how Puerto Rico would swing on a federal level. The island is socially conservative, but economically liberal in many aspects and that could be what determined a lot of voting patterns.

42 thoughts on “Puerto Rico: What its six districts would look like if it were a state”

  1. Two thoughts:

    1. Since the center of the island is mountainous and sparsely populated, I think it would make more sense to have the districts stretch east-west along the coast instead of north-south across the center. Kind of like how in WA and OR they avoid having districts cross the Cascades as much as possible.

    2. As for who they would end up sending to Congress, I think Northern Ireland is the best political analogue. That is to say that the local parties would continue to dominate local politics even for federal elections, and the PPD and PNP representatives would form their own caucuses rather than join the caucuses of the mainland parties.  

  2. I think keeping the San Juan Metro area (Bayamon, San Juan, Carolina, and Guynabo) together in one and possible two districts might be better for keeping communities of interest together.

  3. Some good suggestions from everybody. The 111th Congress actually came fairly close to passing a bill that would call a referendum (thought to favor statehood) in Puerto Rico, but the Senate didn’t have time to consider it before getting swamped with all the big “agenda” items.

    I’m not holding my breath, certainly, but I wouldn’t be stunned to see Puerto Rico become a state within 10-20 years, especially as Spanish becomes a de facto second language throughout the South, West, and urban centers in the continental U.S.

  4. that these diaries are what makes SSP truly special. I have nothing to add, as I know nothing about PR politics. Well done.

  5. http://latino.foxnews.com/lati

    Somehow this story slipped through the cracks late last month. If this ends up happening – and the PNP does hold the trifecta in Puerto Rico right now, and this has really been Gov. Fortuño’s driving issue as well as a potential boon to the PNP’s electoral chances next November, so my guess is that it will – and the U.S. accepts the results (enough Democrats are likely to support it because they enjoy strong support from Latinos stateside, enough Republicans are likely to support it as long as Fortuño or someone like him is in charge, and the Obama administration has strongly hinted that it will back the results of any popular referendum on Puerto Rico’s status), then Puerto Rico could be a state in time for the elections in 2016 or even 2014.

    This really is a big deal, and the relative dearth of media coverage is surprising. Here you have a PNP/Republican governor saying, “We’re going to have a two-part referendum,” a format that strongly favors a pro-statehood vote (which may not command majority support from Puerto Ricans, but it will crush independence and/or ill-defined “free association” in a head-to-head, and it will almost certainly beat out the unpopular status quo “commonwealth” option [which garnered an absolutely pathetic 0.06% of the vote in 1998] with no “none of the above” option on the ballot), and the territorial legislature is completely in his pocket.

    There is simply nothing I can see to stop this from happening aside from perhaps a court injunction, and guess what happened to the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico last year? The PNP successfully pushed through the creation of two new seats, to be filled by gubernatorial appointment. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt would be proud.

  6. I live in Puerto Rico, and know that this island is extremely Democratic. There is a “Medicaid-like” health system. Even the PNP the supposed more conservative party still supports universal healthcare. The current governor is Republican but a very liberal one compared to the national Republican Party. When the 08′ Democratic primary came to Puerto Rico, people turned up in quite significant numbers. PR is poorer than any state in the U.S.A. with an average of fourteen thousand a year per person. There is a lot of welfare with only 40% of the able to work working. There is 17% unemployment.

    The only reason the Teapartiers and most of the Republicans are opposed to Puertorican statehood is because of poverty and thus the welfare policies in the island. They know that apart from being a net cost to the U.S., it also supports the Democratic Party in droves. It has to be noted that neither in the local channels (1-100) nor DirecTV, you can get Fox News in Puerto Rico.

  7. If Puerto Rico were to become a state, I would assume they’d increase the size of the House to 441, at least temporarily.  But what would happen if the increase was only until the next election or until 2021, when the House went back to 435.  What would that do to apportionment?  Which states would lose seats?

  8. that on actual policy issues, both parties would be much closer to the Democrats, particularly on Fiscal and Environmental issues.  

  9. Especially point 1.  An Arecibo-based district and a Ponce based district would use the mountains as a border.

  10. Northern Irish parties are separate because the status of Northern Ireland has always been controversial. There’s no way a nationalist party would want to join with a British party – the point is that they don’t believe it should be part of Britain. Puerto Rico may be divided on the statehood question, but people aren’t being killed over it and major cities are not divided up by walls to keep warring religious groups apart.

    Plus the UUP were part of the Tories until 1972, and the SDLP has informal links to the Labour Party (and the Irish Labour Party), although it doesn’t abide by its whip. The Alliance have a similar relationship with the Lib Dems. In fact, the Tories have actually organised in Northern Ireland continuously, and whilst the UUP split weakened them, they still got 15-20% in some constituencies right up to the mid 1990s. They only really fell back in the past fifteen years, and compounded that by a massively unsuccessful electoral pact with the UUP last year.

    And there have been Northern Ireland Labour Party MPs elected in the past, although the British Labour Party refused to let anybody in Northern Ireland join until the European Court of Human Rights forced it to in 2004 (up until then, you could be a member anywhere in the world, but if you moved your address to Northern Ireland, your membership was voided).

    If an area with politics as dysfunctional as Northern Ireland broadly can fit in to the British political mainstream, I’m pretty sure that for federal election Puerto Rico would conform to the American model within two decades.

  11. Of course, they’d probably keep their own party labels. But wouldn’t it make sense to caucus with a big party, kind of like what Bernie Sanders does? Otherwise, I’d think they’d have trouble obtaining committee assignments.

  12. This was a first try, so I will be tinkering with it more. I’m sure that any member of Congress from Puerto Rico would pick a side to caucus with, that’s what the Resident Commissioner does.

  13. that the relationship between the Puerto Rican parties and the parties on the mainland might be analogous to that of the SDLP and UUP with Labour and the Tories, respectively, where they have some degree of an informal alliance, but where the Puerto Rican parties maintain their own caucuses in Congress.

  14. I think we should add a bunch of states to our country…

    Puerto Rico

    Virgin Islands



    Long Island

    But something tells me due to Conservative resistance we might not see another state added for quite a long time…

  15. They vary from Republican, “free market” economic policies to Keynesian economics, which is slightly to the left of the Democratic Party.

    If they do gain statehood, their political party system will likely get a major shake-up with a likely splintering of the PNP into two.  Or tradition will win out and they will stay in the same parties they always have and merely caucus with a certain party.

  16. If they can achieve statehood by 2014 that could drastically change the outcome of control of the Senate.

  17. On this issue, though, the important thing is that the party is unified around seeking statehood.

    The PNP has a 22-9 majority in the Senate and a 37-17 majority in the House of Representatives. The PPD and PIP can scream and cry all they want about this and insist that the referendum should be changed to a format less skewed toward a pro-statehood vote, but the PNP doesn’t have to change a damn thing if they don’t want to – not a damn thing.

  18. Although Puerto Rico has been a two-party (rather than three party) state for some time, I didn’t realize just how irrelevant the PIP was these days. Apparently in the last election it lost both of its seats in the legislature and it’s gubernatorial candidate only got 2% of the vote (finishing fourth behind the candidates of the PNP, the PPD and the Puerto Rican equivalent of the Green Party).

  19. He offered up support for Gov. Walker and did not rule out joining a presidential ticket (Pawlenty has mentioned him, among others, as a possible vice presidential candidate). Fiscally, he seems like an archconservative (Grover Norquist loves him), although he doesn’t seem to be one for the red meat on social issues (though I know he’s ardently pro-life).

    It’s also worth noting that the Republican Party platform in 2008 was pro-statehood.

    It is great to have a Puerto Rican resident posting here! What have you heard about this two-part plebiscite the PNP is proposing?

  20. I’m surprised the comments here aren’t more aware that PR is regarded as “Democratic” in its fit in American.

    Puerto Ricans who move to and vote in the states (and they can vote right away because Puerto Ricans under the law as U.S. citizens to begin with) are very Democratic, just as most other Hispanics.  Puerto Rican migrants to central Florida are a big part of what’s making the “Hispanic” vote in Florida much less Republican than it used to be.

    If this all comes to pass and isn’t just so much irrational exuberance, it’s truly huge for American politics.  Puerto Rico as a state really makes things much harder for Republicans.

  21. Excellent question. It would certainly depend on the Census, but I think that ironically, one of the six seats lost would belong to Puerto Rico…someone correct me if I’m wrong (I know it would have had five districts using 2000 Census data and it’d be up to six if/when it becomes a state this decade).

  22. Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa may be multiparty democracies, but politics in each country are dominated by one party (the successor of the revolutionary faction in Namibia and South Africa) even though other parties may occasionally score minor successes. Puerto Rico seems to be trending that direction.

    Statehood will almost certainly split the PNP into Democratic and Republican factions. The PPD will probably grudgingly throw in behind the Democrats as well. Overall, I would expect Puerto Rico to be pretty solidly Democratic on the federal level, but winnable for Republicans on the state level (as evidenced by Gov. Fortuño’s success).

  23. wouldn’t Puerto Rico still have five seats? Seat 436 is currently North Carolina’s 14th, with a priority value of 709,063 (PDF). Puerto Rico’s priority values would be:

    1st seat: 3,725,789

    2nd seat: 2,634,531

    3rd seat: 1,521,047

    4th seat: 1,075,543

    5th seat: 833,112

    6th seat: 680,233

    Puerto Rico’s 5th seat would come between California’s 45th (839,199) and North Carolina’s 12th (832,594). But the priority value for Puerto Rico’s 6th seat would fall well below the new seat 435, South Carolina’s 7th (716,890), and even the old seat 435, Minnesota’s 8th (710,231), which would become seat 440. North Carolina’s 14th (and even Montana’s 2nd!) would have priority values higher than Puerto Rico’s 6th. Those states would probably be less than pleased if Puerto Rico leapfrogged…

    Unless my math is wrong! Which it could very well be.

  24. Math to the rescue. Five districts it is.

    There is precedent for temporarily expanding the size of the House of Representatives only to return the total number of voting representatives to 435; the accession of Alaska and Hawaii to the Union in the late 1950s meant that the House had 437 voting members until January 1963. Adding Puerto Rico would therefore put the size of the House at 440 up until the end of the 117th Congress; adding the District of Columbia on top of that would bring us up to 441.

    On that note, it’s worth noting that a proposal to permanently expanded the size of the House to 437 voting members (adding a district for Utah and assigning D.C. a voting representative instead of a nonvoting delegate) appeared set to pass during the 111th Congress until Sen. Ensign dickishly attached an amendment dismantling all forms of gun control (including mandatory registration of firearms) in the District to derail the bill.

  25. California (52), Florida (26), Minnesota (7), Texas (35), and Washington (9) would all lose a seat.

  26. From what I understand, national parties don’t mean much to Puerto Ricans. Parties pretty much live or die by what status they think PR should have.

  27. that any new states should cause a permanent increase to the House. It’s already becoming dangerously unrepresentative as it is.

  28. Might be a decent compromise. Good round number and that. Not sure it’d have any shot at becoming law, though; lawmakers don’t like to dilute their own power.

  29. That’s pretty far out, though; even the projections back in 2007 missed the mark for a few states this time around.

  30. And of those list, Puerto Rico is easily the best candidate for state (aside from D.C., of course).  Guam is an island where the only residents are military personnel and their families.  Virgin Islands are rather small for statehood (but then again, so was Alaska, Nevada and the Dakotas when they were admitted).  But if Puerto Rico really really wants to become a state, it would make us look like the dicks of a lifetime if we decline.

    Besides, the 2008 GOP platform included supporting Puerto Rican statehood.  However, the right flank of the modern GOP will bark foul for obvious reasons.

  31. As I said, the governor has done yeoman’s work to ingratiate himself with the national Republican Party, and he’s gotten some nods for it by folks as far right as Pawlenty, Will, and Norquist. I think they’ll be hard-pressed to stab their ally on the back if it comes down to it.

  32. That may have been motivated by the fact that I believe the legislation would have applied federal funds to help set up the plebiscite. Then again, the Republicans are collectively so deranged, who knows?

  33. Luis Fortuno is a conservative deep inside but he tries to portray himself as a moderate so he can win in Puerto Rico.

  34. Is over whether the first part of the referendum will be held at the end of this year or at the end of next year. Only really makes a difference in that I’m pretty sure the national media isn’t going to pay attention to it until it’s actually happening, just as in 1998.

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