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Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria: The Public’s Knowledge and Views of Its Impact and the Response

To better understand the public’s awareness of the damage to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and their assessment of the federal government’s response, the Kaiser Family Foundation fielded several questions on the SSRS Omnibus Survey. These questions were designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). The SSRS Omnibus survey was conducted October 4-8, 2017, among a nationally representative random digit dial telephone sample of 1,008 adults ages 18 and older, living in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii (note: persons without a telephone could not be included in the random selection process). Computer-assisted telephone interviews conducted by landline (306) and cell phone (702, including 520 who had no landline telephone) were carried out in English and Spanish by SSRS of Media, PA. Both the random digit dial landline and cell phone samples were provided by Marketing Systems Group (MSG). For the landline sample, respondents were selected by asking for the youngest adult male or female currently at home based on a random rotation. If no one of that gender was available, interviewers asked to speak with the youngest adult of the opposite gender. For the cell phone sample, interviews were conducted with the adult who answered the phone. KFF paid for all costs associated with fielding the questions about Puerto Rico on the SSRS Omnibus Survey.

Different research clients purchase space on the omnibus survey and therefore this topline does not include additional questions that preceded or followed the questions shown here. The survey included four questions about the U.S. economy at the top of the questionnaire, and then questions about the following topics were asked on a random rotation along with the Puerto Rico questions: LGBTQ rights (3 questions), Household products (17 questions), financial security (7 questions), current events (not including hurricanes or Puerto Rico, 9 questions), and Halloween (4 questions).

The combined landline and cell phone sample was weighted to balance the sample demographics to match estimates for the national population using data from the Census Bureau’s 2017 March supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS) on sex, age, education, race, Hispanic origin, nativity (for Hispanics only), marital status, and region along with data from the 2010 Census on population density. The sample was also weighted to match current patterns of telephone use using data from the July-December 2016 National Health Interview Survey. The weight takes into account the fact that respondents with both a landline and cell phone have a higher probability of selection in the combined sample and also adjusts for the household size for the landline sample. All statistical tests of significance account for the effect of weighting.

The margin of sampling error including the design effect for the full sample is plus or minus 4 percentage points. Numbers of respondents and margins of sampling error for key subgroups are shown in the table below. For results based on other subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher. Sample sizes and margins of sampling error for other subgroups are available by request. Note that sampling error is only one of many potential sources of error in this or any other public opinion poll. Kaiser Family Foundation public opinion and survey research is a charter member of the Transparency Initiative of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.

Group N (unweighted) M.O.S.E.
Total 1,008 ±4 percentage points
Party Identification
   Democrats 306 ±7 percentage points
   Republicans 238 ±8 percentage points
   Independents 406 ±6 percentage points



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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.