Puerto Ricans Are Leaving in Droves—And Stirring Up the 2016 U.S. Election

By Leani García

The road to the White House may lead through Puerto Rico, but only Congress can pull the island from the economic brink.

In November, Ben Carson became the fifth 2016 U.S. presidential candidate to make a campaign stop in Puerto Rico. Though Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, none of the island’s 3.5 million residents can vote in presidential elections. So why do both Democrat and Republican candidates continue to spend time and money visiting the territory? Demographics play a role.

Campaigning in Puerto Rico has long been a way for candidates to garner favor with the Latino vote state-side. But as increasingly large numbers of Puerto Ricans flee economic instability and insecurity on the island—some...

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