POLL OF MAINLAND U.S. CITIZENS SHOWING POLULAR SUPPORT FOR PUERTO RICO SELF-DETERMINATION
POLL OF PUERTO RICAN VOTERS SHOWING REMARKBLY STRONG SUPPORT FOR REPUBLICAN PARTY POSITIONS
May 12, 1998
(Transcript Copyright © Puerto Rico Herald)
MR. MURPHY: Hello, and thank you, everybody. I'm Mike Murphy. I think I've met everybody once they staggered in. Thank you for coming today.
I'm going to make a few introductory remarks and then I'm going to turn it over to my friend Richard Wirthlin to show you some new polling data and make some comments of his own that's recently been conducted by Wirthlin worldwide.
Our topic today is some discussion of the problem Republicans have as a party, and I think the opportunity Republicans have, with the Hispanic vote. Most Republican political professionals I know take a look at the emerging demographic trends of the next 20 years and voice a lot of concern about the Republican Party situation with Hispanic voters in the mainland U.S.
There are two powerful trends that cannot be ignored by the party, and many of us are urging that we step up our efforts to reach out to Hispanics, and those two trends are this:
One, no political group, no demographic group, in the country is increasing its political ballot box power quicker than Hispanic Americans are. Since 1990, approximately 38 percent of the new registerings to vote in California, our largest state, have been Hispanic. No other demographic group is increasing in size and voting power at the rate of which Hispanics are.
Simultaneously, the Republican Party's generic share of the Hispanic vote, our success in getting Hispanic votes, is in decline.
So when you combine those two trends, Hispanic voting power rising with declining Republican share of Hispanic vote, anybody who cares about the Republicans being a majority party, which Dick and I care deeply about, has to direct our party strategy toward reaching out successfully to Hispanic voters.
Now, one issue we think is symbolically very important, and we think will resonate from polling data that we've seen, polling data that we conducted, some of which we'll be presenting today, is the issue of self-determination for Puerto Rico. It is very important, I believe, that the Republican Party follow the lesson of Ronald Reagan and embrace self-determination. It's good politics here, it's important politics to the mainland Hispanic community, and we believe, contrary to, I think, what some Republicans have believed until more data has become available, that the Republican Party stands a very good chance of being quite competitive should Puerto Rico vote to become a state and should that be worked out and there'd actually be elections to elect Federal office holders, Senators and Congressman, from Puerto Rico.
We have some very interesting data now that I think will make that case powerfully and I want to turn it over to my friend Richard Wirthlin to make a briefing about these two polls, one of the mainland U.S. and one of voters on the island of Puerto Rico, and then we'll be happy to take your questions. Thank you.
MR. WIRTHLIN: Thank you. Well, thank you, Mike. It's a pleasure to be with you. My name is Richard Wirthlin. Delighted to participate in what I think will be some path-breaking research on giving us some understanding not only how Puerto Ricans feel about statehood and the commonwealth but also we took it from another perspective, and that is the perspective of Americans.
There are really three or four things I'd like to talk about briefly.
First is how do the parties divide in terms of popular support in Puerto Rico today?
Secondly, what are the issues that impinge upon statehood and the commonwealth vote?
And then I'm going to talk a little bit about issues and the issues that we think have to be considered when Republicans generally consider the potential of Puerto Rico being a state.
Let's begin with the party. I'm sure that many of the conclusions that are being drawn about Puerto Rico politically are being drawn on the basis of one question, namely, which of the two parties, Republican or Democrat, seem to dominate the positive or negative perceptions in Puerto Rico?
And it is true that if you simply measure party identification or measure favorable/unfavorable that the Democratic Party does have an edge in Puerto Rico. Republicans, 40 percent of Puerto Ricans favorably relate to the Republican parties, but fairly significant a number, 57 percent, say that they favor the Democratic Party.
Also, in a hypothetical vote we're seeing this same edge emerging with without naming names, would you vote for a Republican Presidential candidate or a Democratic Presidential candidate? Twenty-seven percent support the Republican candidate generically. Fifty-seven percent support the Democratic candidate.
But there are some offsetting factors that perhaps provide more light than simply that particular dimension of party.
The first thing to realize is that the tradition of party doesn't run as deep or as broadly in Puerto Rico as it does here, simply because they have had commonwealth status. But when you put names in back of the ballot, and we simply selected two prominent names the name of George Bush Jr. and Vice President Gore that gap of 30 percent narrows to a gap of only five percent. At this point, if the election were held today and if Puerto Rico had the vote, 45 percent would vote for Vice President Gore and 40 percent would vote for Governor Bush.
The other thing that has to be considered when you assess the political environment in Puerto Rico is the issue of conservative versus liberal. Ideologically, 64 percent of those we interviewed in Puerto Rico identified themselves as conservative and 57 percent identified themselves excuse me 26 percent identified themselves as liberal. That is, 64 conservative, 26 percent liberal.
The other thing that we have found, and I think it stems from the fact that the vote support is not as tied to party there as it is here, emerges when we ask people the question: Hypothetically, if you could vote, would you vote for a one-party candidate or would you split your vote?
And when you look at ticket splitting, again the differences are clearly in the range of splitting. That is, 40 percent say they'd vote for both parties, 16 percent for Republican and 27 percent would vote for the Democratic candidate.
So we have in essence a very fluid situation when it comes to getting more specifics tied to the issue.
Concerning the issue of statehood or commonwealth, today 42 percent of those in Puerto Rico favor statehood and 45 percent support the commonwealth.
But if you look in the future and ask people what they think will be the status of Puerto Rico ten years from now, those numbers are fairly dramatically reversed, with 47 percent saying they felt that Puerto Rico would have statehood and only 35 percent said they felt that Puerto Rico would still be a commonwealth country.
Now, that holds not those kinds of attitudes reflect not only in terms of Puerto Rico but also we picked up similar kinds of numbers in the United States, specifically, and kind of the axial number is whether or not Puerto Rico should have the right of self-determination. In the United States, 63 percent said yes, let's give Puerto Rico the right to choose what kind of government and form of government they would desire. It's almost overwhelming in Puerto Rico, as you would probably expect, with 97 percent saying that Puerto Rico should have the right for self-determination.
We were interested in the potential of leveraging, if you will, that conservative, deep running, and broad commitment to conservative ideology as reflected in the issues, so we took a number of issues that we know are single issues that do tend to have a conservative cant to them.
And we found that on the issue of pro life/pro choice, 72 percent of Puerto Rico's [sic] favor pro-life.
On the issue of reforming welfare, 70 percent in Puerto Rico favoring reforming welfare.
Right to work, 82 percent favor.
And mandatory prison sentences for such things as rape and burglary, 82 percent of those in Puerto Rico favor mandatory sentencing.
That also holds true for reforming education, reform in this case being profiled on the basis of issuing vouchers so that children can go to private schools in Puerto Rico garners a support level of again about 80, 83 percent.
Two other dimensions very quickly. Ninety-one percent favor a moment for silent prayer in the schools and 98 percent say they, even with the decline in the global threat and power of the Soviet Union, 98 percent of those in Puerto Rico still favor a strong defense.
In a very clear way, Puerto Rico is much more like Oklahoma politically than Massachusetts. We so often think that the vote is driven solely and completely by party identification that we forget the anomalies that are right in our own backyard. For example, today in Oklahoma, 59 percent of voters register as Democrats; yet also in Oklahoma we've got a governor who's a Republican, two Senators who are Republican and six House members who are Republican, so that there is a strong disconnect in Oklahoma on the issue of party identification or even party registration and voting for the Republican or the Democratic Party.
In point of fact, going back many years to the Reagan coalition, we found that in the South we had this same opportunity where the values were much more aligned with Ronald Reagan's program than registration alone would indicate. As a point of fact, I have never seen an electorate that is as conservative on these key issues as is the constituency in Puerto Rico.
Lastly, if you look at the potential coalitions, it's for those in favor of statehood and speaking to the Republican Party, the coalition for statehood looks very much like a Republican coalition in the sense that it tends to be somewhat older and clearly conservative and does, I think, offer a good potential of both approving and supporting statehood as well as keeping roots within the Republican Party.
Lastly, we should say that this is an important issue, we think, not only for Puerto Rico, which, by the way, every President since Eisenhower favored, and as you may know, it's written into every platform, I guess, Mike, since the '50s, but also we think that giving Puerto Ricans the right to determine their own fate and vote for a commonwealth or statehood sends a strong and much needed message to Hispanics who live in this country. We know there are huge differences between Cuban Hispanics, Mexican-American Hispanics, Puerto Rican Hispanics. However, when it comes to language and culture and roots, this group in particular looks for tokens or symbols that reflect whether a party is reaching out to them or not, and without question reaching out to those in Puerto Rico, giving them the right to determine their own governance, will send a strong, strong symbol that the Republican Party is not exclusive but inclusive, which is a powerful message we must drive not only this year but again going into the next millennia.
Let me just review quickly some of the numbers this way and give you a little more detail.
As I said before, we took a survey both in Puerto Rico and here in the United States. Our sample in both cases was of adults 18 years of age and older. Random probability and again the data's very fresh; this was taken we were in the field just last week.
Looking at that U.S. survey, as I indicated, 63 percent favor self-determination for Puerto Rico and 22 percent of Americans oppose it.
One of the reasons that Americans support it, but not the only reason, and I'll get into that in just a moment, is that Americans feel that if statehood is granted that Puerto Ricans should carry more of their economic weight by paying U.S. taxes.
However, there are two other reasons that we found that are strongly dominant in the support for independence in Puerto Rico, and that is, in addition to income taxes, we asked what's the most persuasive argument. This now comes to 49 percent. Seventeen percent goes to we should give Puerto Ricans the right to vote on these issues themselves.
And the other reason, at 19 percent, is the potential for more rapid economic gain. And there's some evidence from Harvard Department of Economics that statehood would induce faster and more enduring growth in Puerto Rico should it be given statehood.
Looking at our Puerto Rican sample, again 18 and older, the sample was a little bit smaller. We interviewed about 606 in Spanish by native Puerto Ricans. We have people in our shop who speak fluent Spanish, but speaking Spanish in context of American-Mexican population is somewhat different and enough to create some disconnects with the interviewer so we used Puerto Rican interviewers and again with the national study we were in the field from May the first to May the second.
Now again looking at this from the perspective of Puerto Rican adults, 42 percent, as I indicate, favor statehood, and 45 percent favor the commonwealth. But if you look down the pike, where do people think that this issue will go ten years from now, and those numbers change and change fairly dramatically, now with 47 percent saying it's going to be an area governed as a state of the United States and 35 percent as a commonwealth nation.
The issue of self-determination, again as I spoke earlier, 97 percent say that they favor giving Puerto Ricans the opportunity to determine for themselves the status of Puerto Rico.
If you look at a potential hypothetical race for the year 2000, under the generic ballot it's clear that the Democrats hold a fairly substantial edge, 57 versus 27, which, by the way, is almost exactly the gap that we measured when Reagan launched his '80 campaign 29 percent Republican and 52 percent Democrat going into that election. And again those numbers change fairly dramatically when you pose George Bush Republican candidacy opposite a Vice President Gore candidacy, with the numbers being 40 and 45 percent respectively.
If you look at the potential of the ballot by Congress again it's very similar to that of the President except that we didn't pair anyone specifically, but it's obvious that the candidate themselves, whoever runs and doesn't run, really does impact how that vote works.
This is the way we tested the salience importance, if you will, of the various issues. This happens to reference reforming the welfare system.
On the 73 percent would be the generic support for someone who would support the ballot. We then wanted to see how much that would be changed if we attached the word "Republican" to that generic ballot, and as a point of fact it went up slightly when we talked about a Republican candidate who favored reforming the welfare system and the Democratic candidate opposed.
The same kind of pattern works for school vouchers. Eighty-three percent generic support and about the same levels of support when you attach the name "Republican" to defending that issue.
Right to work, 82 percent generically, 13 percent opposed.
Let me pause there for just a moment. We don't see many eighties or nineties or even seventies when you do public opinion surveys in the United States, and while we assume that Puerto Ricans would be more conservative than across-the-board candidates or electorates, the extent to which you get this deep running context of treating the issues in a very conservative fashion did surprise. Again, I don't see many eighties, let alone nineties, in virtually anything that we measure aside from motherhood and apple pie, and even that's sometimes a stretch.
Mandatory sentencing, again, 82 percent favor a candidate who favors mandatory sentencing and the context was, again, not for murder or mayhem or terrorism or whatever but for such things as rape and burglary.
The other thing that cautions us to not hastily jump to the conclusion that admittance of Puerto Rico will automatically mean a Governor, two Senators and five or six Representatives. We wanted to get a sense of the extent to which people would vote for both parties rather than one party alone, and 26 percent said they'd vote in a Senatorial race for the same party for both candidates. Fifty-five percent say that they would vote for one candidate Republican and the other Democrat or vice versa. Thirteen percent said "don't know" and six percent said "it doesn't make a difference, so the potential for splitting the vote rather than voting a straight ticket is very, very much alive.
The other component that measures in a little different way a conservative/Republican agenda reflects in the issue of school prayer, with 91 percent saying that children in public school should be given the right for a moment of silence for prayer. And the same kinds of margins in terms of national defense.
Strongly against abortion in that first slide that I showed you, the question was simply pro choice or pro life, but if you break that down in terms of a scale which runs the two extremes, prohibits abortion under all circumstances versus favors abortion anytime or any reason, 82 percent then take an anti-abortion position. It's clear from data we've taken in the United States for a long period of time that if you ask are you pro-choice or pro-life, the majority will say, "I am pro-choice." But if you break it down against these alternatives, those numbers are somewhat reversed. In the United States these same numbers are 55 percent anti-abortion and in Puerto Rico it's 82 percent.
Sixty-four percent, as I said before, consider themselves politically to be conservative and 26 percent consider themselves to be liberal, even among those who have not been to mainland half have traveled to the United States so it isn't as if the electorate in Puerto Rico is uninformed about the United States or out of touch with the United States. Fully 48 percent say they have traveled and have you ever been to the United States on business or vacation, 52 percent say that they have.
How many of them have family or friends in the United States? The total number of family and I would imagine this is what we call an extended family 96 percent say they have family, friends or relatives living in the United States 80 percent family, 40 percent relatives and 43 percent say friends.
How often do they communicate with each other? In terms of contact and frequency of contact, four percent say daily, 24 percent say weekly, and 40 percent say monthly, with 23 percent saying yearly. In sum, on this point, it is obvious that we are different in terms of governmental status but a lot of interchange between those in Puerto Rico and Hispanics in the United States.
One of the other findings that I'll mention in closing is that we wanted to know how other Hispanics responded to the possibility of statehood for Puerto Rico, and what we found is that other Hispanic ethics were every bit as supportive of giving representation to of self-determined representation to Puerto Rican [sic] as those who live in the country who are lineage is in Puerto Rico.
The bottom line is you can be the worst thing is not to have bad information; the worst thing is not to have information at all. And I think what this study does in brief is that it opens the curtains much more widely than is done before to get a more complete and total view of the political environment in Puerto Rico which tells us that while there is an inclination that favors the Democratic Party, that there are plenty of opportunities for a good, strong Republican, should statehood be granted, to win elections in that key commonwealth.
MR. : Thank you, Richard. Yeah, I'd just sum up by saying that in truth this is an opportunity for the Republican Party because I think there is a feeling that we would not elect Republicans there. The fact is this data shows overwhelmingly it's much more of an Oklahoma or Mississippi than it is a Massachusetts. Culturally and on almost every issue that works for the Republican Party, it tests better than the average Republican state. And we have with strong campaigns and strong candidates, we think we'd be quite successful there as a party.
That would have a benefit to us one, the experience of being successful there. We would learn a lot and we need to learn. And second, [unintelligible] some data, including the recent Penn [phonetic] study done by the Democratic pollster for Univision that shows mainland Hispanics favor self-determination overwhelmingly and support statehood for Puerto Rico. So we think this could be a powerful symbolic issue for the Republican Party to reach out to a constituency that we need desperately to better with.
I'll leave with one point that Richard made in an earlier presentation and I want to repeat. To win the Presidency in the U.S., the Electoral College model dictates that you have to win two of the big three states California, Texas, Florida. If the Republican Party that we care deeply about does not begin a program of strong outreach built around symbolic issues like Puerto Rican self-determination to U.S. Hispanics in the mainland, U.S. citizens who've opened these elections Federally, if we don't do that, in eight or ten, 15 years at the maximum, under current demographic trends, those states will no longer be viable in a Presidential race for the GOP. And if they're not, we will never elect a Republican President beyond about 2015.
So it's time for the party, I think to seize the opportunity both to elect more Republicans in Puerto Rico who are conservatives but also to broadcast that openness, that Reagan policy, to all American Hispanics in the mainland to [unintelligible] political success that is so critical to our future success.
I think we're both excited about answering any questions, and so if you have any, we're Brian? Yes, sir?
BRIAN: It seems that the impact would be largely symbolic if your numbers are accurate in terms of the support for statehood. You know, is this largely a symbolic exercise because
MR. MURPHY: Well
BRIAN: the public doesn't support statehood yet?
MR. MURPHY: I think there are two tracks that you have to look at. The numbers show a statistical time in Puerto Rico, in you know, who knows where the election will go? I think some of those numbers will be driven by what the perception there is of how seriously the Congress takes this.
But along [inaudible] mainland [inaudible] Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, the support for statehood is [inaudible] and the anti-statehood [inaudible]. That's in the Penn Survey, and I've seen some [inaudible]. So among the Hispanics who currently today vote in U.S. Federal elections, statehood is more popular than it is in Puerto Rico, which is interesting.
I think if the for our purposes of getting votes here in the mainland, statehood's a perfect thing to be for
MR. : Right.
MR. MURPHY: and I think you will see Puerto Rico evolve toward a more statehood point of view if they sense that there's interest here in moving ahead with [unintelligible] process.
And Dr. Wirthlin's question of Puerto Ricans on the island, what do you think will happen in ten years? I think there's a ten- or 12-point lead for statehood [inaudible]. So I think in the mainland statehood has support among all Hispanics. In fact, the Univision data argues it's more popular with Cuban and Mexican-Americans than with Puerto Rican Americans here 'cause they probably have friend we document there are a million and a half phone conversations alone between mainland and Puerto Rico island residents. So I think there's some commonwealth support there. But still, as far as electing Republicans across the country, it's a very popular position and something you can run on.
[Gap in tape.]
MS. : [Inaudible.]
MR. MURPHY: Well, there's no proven [unintelligible] in Puerto Rico to elect Democrats yet. I mean, that's going to that's what's kind of on test. And I mean, I know there are two arguments to that. [Unintelligible] people or Republicans in Puerto Rico argue that there are more mayors who are Republican and that there are some, you know, arguably more legislative leaders are Republicans, that Democrats will argue in the primary process. I think it's untested until we start electing Congressmen and Senators, because that'll make the Republican and Democratic Party relevant in Puerto Rico, more relevant than they are now.
And I think this survey is important because it's the first time we've really tried to take a look at, to my knowledge, from a Republican outreach point of view to see what we can do down there, to see what the opportunities are.
And the [unintelligible] we're using here is we think that there's a huge parallel between Puerto Rico now and what the Democratic South looked like before Ronald Reagan, which were overwhelming Democratic registration, conservative ideology. And so I think it'll take a series of Federal elections for Congress and Senator to really put that to the test, and my message to Republicans is this is not something to fear; this is something to embrace.
MS. : But what about in the United State. I mean
MR. MURPHY: Mmh-hmm.
MS. : you don't see a lot of elected officials of Puerto Rican heritage who are Republicans; you see more Democrats?
MR. WIRTHLIN: There are two exceptions. One is the mayor of New York, and the election that Mike was involved in New Jersey if I'm not mistaken, you were very successful in marshaling a vote for Governor Whitman there.
MR. MURPHY: Yeah, we believe that it's a little hard to really now, but we believe that Christie carried the Puerto Rican American vote in New Jersey, and I predict Jeb Bush will do very well in Florida which has a large and really Puerto Rican population.
And I think if you look at the polling numbers of incumbent Governor George Bush in Texas, he's a model of how Republicans can attract Hispanics.
So I agree with the thrust of your question that we don't do enough well enough, the Republican Party, with Hispanics on the mainland. [inaudible] in Puerto Rico. So we change that, and I think this is one way to do it.
And I think a great learning space for the party go do this. We will do nothing but learn things. There are real [inaudible]. If there was a vote to become a state and we participate down there, I think it will be an important education for us to put to learn how to do it and learn a lot about Hispanic voters and then show the Republican Party is open to attracting those people to our party rather than what some elements of the party have done, which is vilify them, and I think made a terrible mistake and sent exactly the wrong message.
MR. : Did either one of you get any feel for why there may be such a disparity between what the people in Puerto Rico want to happen and what they think will happen within ten years as far as the statehood issue?
MR. WIRTHLIN: This would really be an educated guess. The fact that we did the second question, namely, where do you think it's going in ten years when you look into the future, it's hard to get a clear vision. However, we found that if we asked people what they think will happen in the future frequently uncovers, as it did in this case, a potential support for statehood that wasn't there. I think that the goal of statehood has been out there for a long time and as a consequence a lot of Puerto Ricans believe in fact the majority with a good margin believe that eventually Puerto Rican [sic] will accept statehood.
MR. MURPHY: Yeah, I'll offer a guess on that, too. I think that Puerto Ricans, who of course know a lot more about Puerto Rican politics than I do and than most mainlanders, understand that the current commonwealth status quo is a very kind of murky proposition and how sustainable it is into the future is very dubious. And exactly what is commonwealth, what are the real rights of citizenship under it. The more you put the light of inquiry in commonwealth, the kind of more trouble it gets into. And I think there may be some knowledge there and some pessimism about the sustainability of it.
The other point I'd make about commonwealth is one of the most interesting survey results we got here from the national survey among all U.S. adults on the mainland is that when you focus regular voters the man on the street [unintelligible] on the commonwealth and they understand that it gives many of the rights of citizenship without the responsibility of paying Federal income taxes, commonwealth becomes a very hard position to sustain for an American politician. It is hugely unpopular, a 70 to 30 difference of statehood with Federal income taxes and citizenship rights versus commonwealth with some of those rights and no taxes. That is a cutting issue that politicians in the mainland in a campaign environment don't want to be standing up in it in that environment, either party, defending commonwealth. Commonwealth is very vulnerable to attack in an American political campaign here in our state campaigns, and I think as this issue heats up, that's another place for the Demo excuse me, where the Republicans can go on offense and score.
MR. WIRTHLIN: And one of the reasons that commonwealth is a more murky topic is we don't know exactly, and Puerto Ricans don't know exactly, how that may be defined or circumscribed or changed in the future where statehood gives a much more definitive answer in terms of the relationship between our country and our commonwealth nation of Puerto Rico.
MS. : If there's no vote this year in the Senate on the referendum issue, how much trouble does that cause the Republican Party?
MR. MURPHY: I think it's a huge lost opportunity and therefore a mistake. I can't say it'll be the dominant issue or a deadly mistake, but the clock is ticking on this. We need the party needs a wake-up call to find Reagan-like themes to reach out, and I think the Senate ought to act on a bill like the House bill. I think it's very much in our interest.
There are several elections this year where the Hispanic vote will be critical California governor, which is a vital, vital election for us to win, Senator D'Amato, who faces a tough race in New York, you know, would be the two that I think kind of bubble to the top. Governor Bush has done so well in Texas, I think he has a lot of support there he's earned that. Jeb Bush in Florida, another key race for Hispanic votes, could be the difference.
So I think there are votes this year where we could I mean, excuse me, elections this year we could have a good impact with the vote. But more than anything, it's beginning a process, a multi-year process, to deal with the fact that the Republican Party has to learn how to succeed better as we ought to with Hispanic voters who I think we ought to be able to attract 'cause we have so many jointly held values. So I would Lott to introduce the bill and I would urge the Senate to pass it.
MR. : I'm sorry you say D'Amato's race, and what was the other one?
MR. MURPHY: I would say the big races where I'd be particularly concerned about the Hispanic vote for Republicans are Al D'Amato's reelection he has a tough race; California, where we got the most important Republican governorships up for grabs in a very tough race in a state again with very powerful Latino voting; Jeb Bush in Florida, though I believe, because of his own work in the community, he's going to have a lot of support.
And I might add also Illinois, the gubernatorial race there where George Ryan and Glenn Pleshard [phonetic] are going to be in a competitive race, and Illinois's another state with emerging Hispanic voting that our party better pay attention to.
MR. : Just make it clear, are you suggesting that the Republican Party ought to support Puerto Rican statehood or just that they ought to support the self-determination?
MR. MURPHY: My view is that we ought to support self-determination, and I think that we will profit by supporting statehood as well.
If you look at the Republican platform, the position of Reagan and Bush, we as a party have been very strongly at the Presidential level supportive of statehood. I think that's smart politics for us, and I'm hoping our Senate leadership will follow that path. And I will say there are many Republicans in the Senate Connie Mack, Larry Craig, Frank Murkowski of Alaska who have been leaders on this issue and are doing the Republican Party a lot of good.
MR. : [Unintelligible] Bob Dole [inaudible]. Are you supportive of this?
MR. MURPHY: You know I to be honest, I don't know what Senator Dole's exact position is on this. He's always been a leader in outreach in the party, so I'm optimistic. But I don't know exactly where he is on this issue, so I can't answer that. We can find out for you.
MR. : Can I just
MR. MURPHY: Yes, sir.
MR. : [inaudible] get Mr. Wirthlin to respond to the idea of that what do you see in these results about the issue of supporting statehood as opposed to supporting self-determination? There are very few politicians who have actually come out openly in favor of statehood, but the American politicians
MR. WIRTHLIN: Right.
MR. : but, you know, only a handful. But [inaudible].
MR. MURPHY: Yeah, but they are linked though, 'cause
MR. : Yeah.
MR. WIRTHLIN: Clearly, self-determination is the door that you got to go through. You got if there wasn't a strong desire on the part of those who live in Puerto Rico themselves to determine their own status vis-a-vis the United States or if there were a split between how Puerto Ricans feel about self-determination and how Americans feel about it, it would be much less cogent and powerful than to ask the second question: All right, you want to determine by your own vote or support one of the two options, then what would that option be? And again as I've already stated, at the moment that vote would be close but again I think the perception of what's going to happen in the future drives that to a good likelihood that if that does come to a vote of some kind would favor statehood.
MR. MURPHY: Yeah, just to echo that a bit I mean, they are hard to separate, because if you're for self-determination, you therefore logically accept statehood as a possible outcome of self-determination. And so when I say a lot of Republicans support statehood, by supporting self-determination you fundamentally support the concept of statehood. I don't think you can really divide 'em. There are details in the implementation it's all, of course, hinged on acceptance you know, on the island; they have to win a plebiscite. So there's linkage to it all. But I don't think you can be for self-determination and simultaneously be against statehood as an acceptable outcome of that. Yes, ma'am?
MS. : As far as strategy of reaching out to the [inaudible] vote here in the United States, as Republican strategists what kind of recommendations do you make to the party as far as supporting what a lot of people have said in the past have been anti-Hispanic initiatives such as Proposition 209, 187 English only, that type of thing?
MR. MURPHY: I think we have to be careful as a party not to be tricked on defense by partisan Democratic Hispanic leaders who try to draw and frame the debate in a way that Republicans can never win. I mean, we ought to run on our Republican issues of opportunity, personal responsibility, economic growth. I don't think we have to be afraid of bilingualism, for example, in a reasonable way, but the idea of English being the primary language I don't think is something we need to be afraid of, either. I've seen polls in California on 227 that show strong Hispanic support for it.
So I think we have to be careful in this equation to be pro-Hispanic, open door Republicans and not try to out-Democrat the Democrats or try to out-left the Hispanic left. I think what we're going to find out in this is that victory for us is not trying to unrealistically assume we're going to get all the Hispanic votes in the U.S. but just be competitive so people who are Hispanic and conservative feel at home in our party culturally and feel we're open to them. So I don't think we have to give up our ideology to do this and it's a mistake if we did.
MR. WIRTHLIN: I would strongly agree with that and further say that I don't think it's going to be too many years when it's not going to be possible to put the same coalition that elected George Bush and Ronald Reagan back together again without making considerable ground with the Hispanic community.
What I have shown you in regards to the conservative/liberal issues in terms of single voters that's voters who vote only on that issue those same tendencies exist here in the United States but with much greater force in Puerto Rico. And I think that our view should be not only what we do in 1998 and the year 2000 but clearly this issue, the power of the Hispanic vote, is going to get more and more strong in the years beyond the year 2000. Unless we as a party begin understanding that and dealing with it, we may find ourselves in some serious coalitional difficulty in the next ten years.
MR. MURPHY: And I will say that the Buchananite messages and the very harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric are a big mistake for our party. I think it's a minority view among Republicans and Buchanan does us no good at all he's the best weapon the Democrats have when he goes on these jihads. And so I think we do have to caution Republicans who use hot and unfortunate language and have a what looks like a knee jerk hostility to legal immigration and Hispanic culture are doing us no help at all. They're making a big mistake.
MS. : Could you elaborate more on the commonwealth status as not being
MR. MURPHY: Mmh-hmm.
MS. : a tenable status, and do you believe there's great [unintelligible] on the mainland in terms of the status that Puerto Rico actually has?
MR. MURPHY: I believe among rank and file voters, yes, there's a fair amount of ignorance about the status, and I believe to those who say who try to intimidate Republicans from being pro-self-determination by saying you will have a voter backlash in among regular mainland American voters if you're for self-determination, they're making a big mistake. The real voter danger, I think, is for politicians to stand up and try to defend the commonwealth status quo as it's often portrayed, which is many of the rights of citizenship without the responsibility of taxes.
So I have no worry about regular Republican candidates standing up and defending self-determination. I would much rather defend that than defend the status quo commonwealth if it became a hot issue in a big state election somewhere for Senate or Congress.
MS. : Are you sharing this data with other Republican [unintelligible] because you talk about the main - the key states but there are Hispanics in all 50 states?
MR. MURPHY: Right.
MS. : which can play a role even though they're not covered by the media [inaudible]?
MR. MURPHY: Right. We have kind of unveiled the data today and Dr. Wirthlin and I and others are going to be disseminating it widely within the Republican Party, the leaders in every state, to elected officials in every state, to folks on the Hill, to the governors, so we believe we have a groundbreaking study here that shows the opportunity for the Republican point of view and the reason we ought to embrace self-determination and we plan to aggressively share this data with everybody in the party who will listen.
MS. : [Inaudible.]
MR. MURPHY: And I think a lot of people will listen.
MS. : Did you ask a question among people who favor statehood in Puerto Rico on the mainland if they would accept Puerto Rico with the majority of the population not bilingual? According to the depart the Education Department, only 15 or 20 percent of the people on the mainland - in Puerto Rico, sorry about that are fully bilingual.
MR. MURPHY: Right. We did not ask that question, no.
My view is the language issue will sort itself out because English is the language of commerce and while it's a I wish I spoke Spanish. I did the wrong language in the '80s I took Russian. [Laughter.] So I think people the fact that Spanish is going to be an increasingly important language I think is a plus, not a minus, but I'm not worried about any voter fallout from the fact that there's a lot of Spanish speaking in Puerto Rico. I don't think that's a problem at all. And I think what you'll see if statehood is more Puerto Ricans learning English.
MR. WIRTHLIN: And we often think of language as being such a divisive factor because we're close to Canada and we're seeing what's happening in Quebec. But there are other countries for example, a very small country, called Switzerland where they speak four different languages and yet they are very united in terms of the essence of country and nation and so on. And as Mike said, the global future goes to those who understand the global language, which has become English.
MR. MURPHY: Yes, sir?
MR. : You don't seem to make a great distinction between being giving Puerto Ricans a choice and then the next week to statehood.
MR. MURPHY: Mmh-hmm.
MR. : Is that a dangerous perspective for Republicans on the island where there is still so much support for a commonwealth status? Is that some people could be turned off the Republicans by that sort of view?
MR. MURPHY: Well, that's an interesting question. We just don't know. The only way to find out is to kind of find out.
What I believe, and I can't prove this, but what I believe is that if the Senate were to act on this and there seemed to be some support here for beginning a serious, you know, ten-year process toward a real plebiscite and statehood that that would greatly strengthen the statehood party
MR. MURPHY: and greatly weaken the commonwealth party. But we don't know till it happens.
MS. : Who paid for the poll?
MR. MURPHY: The Citizens' Education Foundation, which is a foundation in Puerto Rico of mostly business people and academics.
MS. : And are they pro-statehood?
MR. MURPHY: I you know, I don't want to make any real policy statements for 'em. I think a lot of the people involved in the organization are known to be pro-statehood but I'm not sure what their exact position is. You'd have to give them a call. We've got a some yeah, is in the package. You can look at that.
MR. : We have time for one or two more questions.
MR. MURPHY: Yes, sir?
MR. : Yeah, I was wondering there doesn't seem to be [unintelligible] between their preference in Puerto Rico for national parties and also the way people [unintelligible] themselves on issues like school prayer, vouchers, and I was wondering, because maybe because [unintelligible] measuring the [unintelligible]
MR. MURPHY: I think on the core issues that people would vote on in a Federal election in Puerto Rico we could do very, very well. Which is news to our party, and I think good news.
Thank you very much, appreciate it.