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New poll shows strong support for Hillary Clinton among Puerto Rican voters in Florida

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Puerto Rican voters in Florida overwhelmingly support Hillary Clinton, according to a new survey.

A new poll from the Center for American Progress Action Fund found 74 percent of Puerto Rican voters in the Sunshine State were supporting Clinton. Another 17 percent said they were backing Donald Trump, while 3 percent said they would vote for a third-party candidate. Four percent said they were undecided.

The poll of 503 Puerto Rican registered voters in Florida was conducted by Latino Decisions from Sept. 17 through Sept. 26. It has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

“Based on what we’re seeing, Puerto Ricans in Florida are really an untapped source of progressive strength in many ways,” said John Halpin, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, during a conference call Wednesday. “It’s notable how … pro-Clinton and anti-Trump this group is.”

Clinton had strong support from voters who were born both in the mainland U.S. and in Puerto Rico. The survey found 67 percent of mainland-born voters backed Clinton, while 75 percent of respondents who were born on the island said they were supporting Clinton.

Trump has slightly more support from respondents who said they were born on the mainland. The survey showed 18 percent of Florida voters born on the mainland backed Trump, compared to 14 percent who said they were born on the island.

Trump appears to be deeply disliked within the community, with 78 percent of respondents saying they had an unfavorable opinion of the GOP nominee. Fifteen percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of Trump, while 6 percent said they didn’t know.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of Clinton, while 26 percent said they had an unfavorable view of the Democratic nominee. Six percent of respondents said they didn’t know.

While Puerto Rican voters appear to overwhelmingly favor Clinton over Trump in the presidential race, the U.S. Senate race looks to be much closer. The poll found 44 percent of respondents said they were backing Rep. Patrick Murphy, while 42 percent backed Sen. Marco Rubio.

Rubio has stronger support among Puerto Rican voters who were born on the mainland, with 40 percent backing him, compared to 37 percent supporting Murphy. Forty-six percent of island-born voters backed Murphy, while 40 percent said they backed Rubio.

The new survey comes as Florida continues to see a shift in demographics as the Puerto Rican community grows. The Interstate 4 corridor has been a major growth area, and recent estimates put the Sunshine State’s Puerto Rican population at more than 1 million.

A 2015 analysis by the Pew Research Center found the number of Puerto Ricans in Florida increased 110 percent between 2000 and 2014. That outpaced the state’s population growth rate during that same time period.

It also marked a shift in where Puerto Ricans are choosing to live. According to the Pew Research report, about as many Puerto Ricans live in Florida as live in New York, which had long had the largest Puerto Rican population on the mainland.

The changes could have an impact on the 2016 presidential election. A March analysis by the Pew Research Center found the number of Hispanic voters identifying as Democrats increased by 83 percent, while the number of Hispanic voters identifying with no party affiliation increased by 95 percent.

The Pew Research Center analysis found 687,000 Hispanic voters were registered as Democrats, 479,000 registered as Republicans, and 610,000 indicated no party affiliation.

Puerto Ricans have largely settled in the Orlando area. In 2013, the Orlando metro area had 314,000 Puerto Ricans living in the state, up about 15 percent from the previous year.

The American Progress Action Fund also polled respondents on the most important issues facing the Puerto Rican and Hispanic community.

One-third (33 percent) of respondents said the economy and jobs was the most important issue. Health care and insurance ranked second, with 19 percent of respondents saying it was the most important issue; followed by immigration with 13 percent and education at 12 percent.

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