For more than thirty years, the Capital City of San Juan had been a reliable municipality in the New Progressive Party column. During the period from 1968 to 1996, the NPP candidates for Governor won all Elections held, both Senatorial seats were held by NPP Senators, and save for 1972, 1984, and 1988, the NPP won all the Representative Districts that included San Juan. Four NPP Mayors controlled the City from 1969 to 1989.
Beginning in the 1980s, weak NPP Mayoral candidates allowed San Juan Representatives, who were also Precinct Chairmen/women to develop their own political machines, making their fate independent of the Mayoral candidates. Benjamín Vélez (1), Edwin Mundo (2), Albita Rivera (3), Edison Misla (4), and Myrna Passalacqua (5) flexed their political muscles and focused their efforts on their own political interests, often ignoring the Mayoral campaign.
The result of that was that Popular Democratic candidates were able to win, even if by small margins. Héctor Luis Acevedo was Mayor of San Juan from 1989 to 1997 and Sila Calderón from 1997 to 2001, even though all San Juan Precincts voted NPP in all the other candidacies.
That changed in 2000. San Juan has voted with the winning gubernatorial candidate in all General Elections since. It voted for Calderón (PDP) in 2000, Acevedo (PDP) in 2004, Fortuño (NPP) in 2008, and García (PDP) in 2012. That begs the question is San Juan no longer an NPP stronghold and has it become a pure Toss-Up? Pondering the following questions can help us determine the political tilt of San Juan: Are NPP voters staying at home on Election Day (2000, 2004, 2012)? Has the NPP lost voters in San Juan to the PDP? Or have these voters vanished altogether?
It is out assessment that the answer is Yes to all three questions. Statistics would seem to support this answer.
In 1992, out of 209,632 voters, 105,810 voted for Rosselló (NPP) and 92,418 voted for Muñoz (PDP). In 2012, out of 177,680 voters, 78,489 voted for Fortuño (NPP) and 86,023 voted for García (PDP). This means that since 1992, San Juan has lost an electoral population of 31,952 voters. The NPP has lost 27,321 voters. This would suggest that indeed most of the people who have immigrated out of San Juan or have chosen not to go to the polls on Election Day were NPP voters. The PDP, for its part, has remained more or less the same, taking into account it received only 6,395 less votes in 2012 than in 1992. It is likely a small number of NPP voters crossed Party lines to vote for PDP candidates, as well.
So, is San Juan now a Toss-Up? Yes, it is. The question that both major parties have to ask themselves is: why are NPP voters staying at home on Election Day. The answer to that, we leave to you.