Did Ricardo Rosselló Earn More Mentions than Carmen Yulín Cruz in U.S. Online News After Hurricane Maria?

Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, has become the strongest critic of the Trump administration’s response to Hurricane Maria. Her growing popularity among Democrats in the United States has overshadowed Puerto Rico’s Governor, Ricardo Rosselló. In an earlier post, I used Google Trends data to show that many Google users in the United States started to search for more information on Cruz after her first Twitter battle with President Trump.

While Rosselló has earned more mentions in U.S. TV news organizations’ reporting of the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria, the San Juan mayor did receive more mentions in the cable news channels, especially in CNN and MSNBC.

In this post, we look at U.S. Online News coverage of the island’s recovery efforts and how many sentences include references to either Rosselló or Cruz. In this short analysis, I used MediaCloud,  an open source platform created by a team of researchers at Harvard University and MIT to study “media ecosystems”, to search its collection of U.S. Online News for articles printed between September 18 and October 30, 2017 that mentioned either politician. So, who earned the most mentions?

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Given the Google Trends data, this is not a surprising finding. While Rosselló did receive more mentions in the U.S. TV News coverage of Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts, it is important to note that she earned 47% of all the mentions and that his mentions were inflated by PBS News’ reporting.

If we look at a timeline of the media organizations in MediaCloud’s U.S. On-Line News Collection, we see a similar pattern to the trends we discussed in the previous posts.

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The number of sentences that mentioned Cruz increased dramatically during her Twitter feud in late September with Trump. Different from the trend-lines examined in the previous two posts, sentences mentioning the San Juan Mayor outnumber those mentioning Rosselló for most of the time period.

In the previous trend-lines, we see that Rosselló’s numbers increase after his meeting with President Trump at the White House on October 19. By the end of October, Rosselló’s earns more mentions and this associated with his criticisms of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s efforts to rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid and his decision to cancel the contract with Whitefish Energy, which Cruz, among many politicians in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico, had criticized.

With these findings, we can conclude that Cruz has become a rising start in the United States. Her standing in Puerto Rico is more difficult to measure. Unfortunately, the tools we used to measure Cruz’s or Rosselló’s influence in the U.S. media environment does not apply to Puerto Rico. The Google Trends data for Google users in Puerto Rico does show that interest in Rosselló is still very strong. But we need to use these results with caution as many Puerto Ricans lack access to the Internet.

In the future, I will look at how Puerto Ricans perceive both Rosselló and Cruz, by comparing and contrasting Facebook users’ or Twitter users’ opinions of both politicians to a particular issue or event we can deduce their overall standing in the islands’ political system.



Ricardo Rosselló vs. Carmen Yulín Cruz: Who Has Earned the Most Attention Following Hurricane Maria?


The two most visible Puerto Rican elected leaders in the United States are Carmen Yulín Cruz, the Mayor of San Juan, and Ricardo Rosselló, the Governor of Puerto Rico. Rosselló is also the president of the pro-statehood Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP), while Yulín Cruz is one of the vice presidents of the Partido Popular Democratico (PPD) and is expected to challenge Rosselló in the 2020 gubernatorial elections. Who has garnered the most attention in the weeks following Hurricane Maria? 

There are many ways to answer this question. For example, we can collect Google Trends data to explore which politician has received the most attention in the United States and in Puerto Rico. The other way is to measure the number of times the U.S. media has mentioned Rosselló or Yulín Cruz in their news stories. In today’s post, we will use Google Trends data and in tomorrow’s we will examine the U.S. media coverage of Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts.

We will limit our analysis for Google searches conducted in the United States and in Puerto Rico between September 19, 2017 and October 28, 2017. The first pie chart shows that Google Search users in the United States were more likely to seek information about Yulín Cruz than about Rosselló.chart (22)

This should not be surprising. The San Juan mayor’s Twitter feud with President Donald Trump and her repeated criticisms of the federal government’s relief efforts made her a national icon.

The next graph captures the volume of Google searches for both elected leaders during the specified time period.

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The graph shows that Yulín Cruz’s Internet popularity among Americans was linked to her Twitter feud with Donald Trump, which took place before he visited Puerto Rico to survey the damage on October 3. On October 19, Rosselló earned more attention than the San Juan mayor. This spike followed the Governor’sWhite House meeting with President Trump on October 19, 2017.

Google users’ search preferences in Puerto Rico reveal a different story. Yulín Cruz is more popular than Rosselló, but by a smaller margin.

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It is worth highlighting that that the graph below shows that Puerto Ricans did not conduct any searches from September 21 through September 24. These were the days the island experienced a total blackout and Puerto Ricans lacked access to the Internet. The second observation is that interest in Rosselló is higher in Puerto Rico than in the United States, suggesting that the governor’s main political competitor is actually not the leader of the PPD, Hector Ferrer, but the San Juan mayor.

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Although Google Trends is a powerful analytical tool, the data does not inform us which leader is the most popular or which one is seen as more trustworthy. But it is clear from Google Trends that Yulín Cruz has garnered the most interest in the United States and in Puerto Rico.

What do you think of these trends? Do you think that Yulín Cruz deserves all this attention? What do you think of Rosselló’s leadership and his performance so far?


Air Passenger Travel To and From Puerto Rico

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One of the sad consequences of Puerto Rico’s economic crisis has been the migration of thousands of Puerto Ricans to the U.S. mainland. Unfortunately, Hurricane Maria’s destruction of the island’s infrastructure will probably intensify this trend, which will further weaken the territory’s tax base and increase its ‘brain drain’.

How many people have left Puerto Rico in the last weeks? On October 13, 2017, NPR reported that more than 27,000 have traveled to Florida. A more recent story published in Bloomberg estimates that the number of Puerto Ricans who have relocated to Florida is around 73,000. Puerto Ricans have also resettled in the Northeast, though at a smaller rate.

In a few months, we will be able to gauge the migration of Puerto Ricans after the storm using data on air passenger travel to and from Puerto Rico. These figures are collected by the Government Development Bank of Puerto Rico on a monthly basis.

The graph above shows that since 2007 on average outbound travel is higher than inbound travel, though the gap starts to dramatically increase after 2009. From July 2008 to June 2017, an estimated 48,700,000 passengers flew to Puerto Rico, while around 49,392,000 flew out of the island. These figures do not imply that an estimated 692,000 Puerto Ricans moved to the mainland in this time period, but it does suggest that many thousands did and it corroborates studies that find that over 400,000 Puerto Ricans have moved to the U.S. mainland in the last decade.

How many more Puerto Ricans will move to the mainland after this hurricane season? Will they return home once things start to improve in the island? Only time will tell.

Puerto Rico’s Pre-Maria Energy Sources

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For the last weeks, the U.S. and Puerto Rican media have reported about Tesla’s interest in transforming Puerto Rico’s electrical system, following the passing of Hurricane Maria. Earlier this week, El Hospital del Niño announced that Tesla installed a system of solar panels and batteries which will supply all of the hospital’s electricity needs. While Tesla notes that this is the first of many projects, it will not be easy to move Puerto Rico’s electrical system away from its dependence on fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.

Using 2016 data from the U.S. Department of Energy, the chart notes that only 2% of Puerto Rico’s electricity is generated using renewable sources. Puerto Rico’s dependence on petroleum, natural gas, and coal are not only problematic from an environmental perspective, but reliance on these sources makes electricity more expensive.

To put Puerto Rico’s figures in perspective, let’s look at how Puerto Rico compares to the United States and its Caribbean neighbors.

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The story is different in the most populous countries in the Caribbean Basin. The graph below shows that most of these economies are dependent on fossil fuels, especially petroleum-based products. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are the most diversified in terms of energy sources. But, the graph also shows that Puerto Rico produces the smallest amount of electricity from renewable sources.

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Does it make sense to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electrical system to pre-Maria standards? While Tesla and other companies may want to transform the island’s grid, at this moment the Federal Management Emergency Administration’s (FEMA) and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) goal is to reconstruct the old system.

This is a missed an opportunity and as Ramon Cruz and Judith Enck note in a recent op-ed, Congress could actually intervene, asking FEMA, which is financing the recovery efforts, to order PREPA and the Puerto Rican government to use federal funds to invest in new technologies that can increase the amount of electricity produced by renewable sources of energy. This will not only cut Puerto Rico’s dependence on fossil fuels, which have to be shipped to to the island, but it will help the island a more resilient grid that will lower electricity prices for the island’s residents.



Google Trends Data for the US: Which Hurricane Received the Most Attention?

Google Trends Data for the US: Which Hurricane Receive the Most Attention?

The United States, including its territories in the Caribbean, has been affected by three major hurricanes this season. The graph above shows that Google users in the United States paid closer attention to Hurricane Irma than to Hurricanes Harvey or Maria. Data for this graph was collected using Google Trends.

It is not surprising that Hurricane Irma received the most attention. Once the world’s media reported on Barbuda’s and St. Martin’s destruction after Irma’s passing, people in the Caribbean and the U.S. Southeast started to take the hurricane very seriously. Hurricane Irma’s eye wall spared most of Puerto Rico, but Vieques, Culebra and the U.S. Virgin Islands were not as lucky.

Although Hurricane Maria was likely the most destructive of the three storms, Irma affected the most people, followed by Harvey. Given that Google Trends counts the amount of searches Google users make, it seems logical that the hurricane that affects the most people is also the one that receives the most attention.

Could another reason explain the differences between Google users’ interest? What about the U.S. media’s interest? Did media’s coverage of these three hurricane mirror Google searches? We will explore this in another post. What do you think? Feel free to share your views.