A historic vote just took place in the USA. Oh, and Obama won too…

I’ve no idea how this flew under the radar, but the outside world (bar the BBC) has largely ignored the most historic American plebiscite since the 1950s.

Obama’s re-election, important though it is in itself, might find itself eclipsed by what just took place in Puerto Rico – a clear popular vote in favour of statehood. If ratified by Congress (there is bipartisan support for the idea, although getting it though today’s cantankerous House may be tricky), PR will become the 51st state of the USA, the first new state in over 50 years.

Unlike the other almost-state (Washington DC), PR does not currently have a vote in presidential elections, and has a population significant enough (3.7 million, or 29th out of 51) to give it 7 electoral college votes – hardly Florida, but no Wyoming either. The Puerto Rican party system is currently based along constitutional lines, with the main parties representing the statehood, independence and status quo positions. How, or whether, this will fit into the US two-party system is an open question. Republicans currently do badly among Hispanics in general, however Puerto Ricans, like Cuban-Americans, might buck that trend.

Sure, a president was just re-elected. But presidential elections themselves are about to change, and in unpredictable ways.

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