Democracy Dies in Darkness


Why and how we surveyed Puerto Rico residents

September 12, 2018 at 12:55 PM

The moon rises over mountains in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. Nearly a year after Hurricane Maria ripped through the island, the damage continues to affect nearly every aspect of life. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

It has been nearly a year since Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, a storm that blew across the entire island and led to massive damage to property and infrastructure. The Puerto Rican government has officially accepted estimates that nearly 3,000 people died either directly from the storm or in the months afterward as much of the island remained without power and other necessities.

Political leaders have both defended and criticized federal and local recovery efforts, and polls of Americans outside of Puerto Rico were conducted gauging what they thought about the recovery.

But absent from the conversation was a representative picture of how Puerto Rican residents saw the recovery: What did they experience in the months after the hurricane, what did they need moving forward, and what were their opinions about how the disaster was handled?

To fill that gap, The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a wide-ranging survey of Puerto Rican residents who lived through the storm and remain on the island. Researchers from Kaiser and the survey firm SSRS worked closely with a San Juan-based research firm, Estudios Técnicos, to establish the feasibility of the study and determined that face-to-face interviewing in randomly selected neighborhoods across the island was the best way to reach a representative cross-section of residents.

Related: [Read the full survey results and methodology]

This poll was the 33rd in the partnership between The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, combining survey research and reporting to better inform the public. It was conducted from July 3 to Aug. 29, 2018, in Spanish, among 1,500 randomly selected adults ages 18 and older residing in Puerto Rico at the time of the survey and when Hurricane Maria hit the island on Sept. 20, 2017. The sample was stratified by five regions with 100 sampling points randomly selected in proportion to each region’s size. Within each area, adults were randomly selected and interviewed by professionally trained Estudios Técnicos interviewers. The final results were weighted to align with the makeup of the adult Puerto Rican population by age, sex and education according to Census Bureau benchmarks.

Emily Guskin is the polling analyst at The Washington Post, specializing in public opinion about politics, election campaigns and public policy. Before joining The Post in 2016, she was a research manager at APCO Worldwide and prior to that, she was a research analyst at the Pew Research Center's Journalism Project.

Scott Clement is the polling director for The Washington Post, conducting national and local polls about politics, elections and social issues. He began his career with the ABC News Polling Unit and came to The Post in 2011 after conducting surveys with the Pew Research Center's Religion and Public Life Project.

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