Most Cuban Americans Prefer Obama’s Cuba Policy to Rubio’s

by Jim Lobe

According to a new survey released by the Bendixen & Amandi International polling firm on Thursday, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) are increasingly out of touch with the larger Cuban-American community with respect to Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Havana and ask Congress to end the half-century-old trade embargo against the island.

The poll, which interviewed 400 Cuban Americans around the country, was released on the one-year anniversary of Obama’s announcement that he was normalizing ties between the two countries, which were severed in 1961.

Key findings include:

  • A significant 56% majority of Cuban-American adults now support the policy of normalization—a remarkable 12-point increase compared to just a year ago.
  • A 53% majority of Cuban-American adults favor the ending of the U.S. embargo towards Cuba. That was a 9-percent increase compared to a year ago. Two thirds (66%) of respondents aged 18-49 (Rubio’s cohort) favor ending the embargo.

Although this blog focuses primarily on U.S. policy toward the Middle East and related issues, the poll is worth noting in major part because it suggests that Obama’s policy of engaging perceived adversaries, such as Cuba and Iran, may actually offer a political pay-off. Of course, one can’t make too much of this given the huge differences between Cuba and Iran (size, distance, familiarity with the two countries’ cultures). But it’s nonetheless a hopeful sign for those who favor engagement over overt and permanent hostility (read Rubio and Cruz).

The survey found significant demographic and political differences among the respondents. Support for Obama’s normalization and ending the embargo, for example, was concentrated among U.S.-born Cuban Americans and Cuban-born Americans who arrived during or after the 1980 Mariel boatlift. Unsurprisingly, younger respondents were significantly more likely to favor Obama’s efforts than older respondents, particularly among those who were born in Cuba and arrived here before 1980. Self-identified Republicans were, unsurprisingly, also much more likely to identify with the hard-line stances of both Rubio and Cruz.

Asked about Obama’s decision to normalize ties with Havana, 52% of Cuban-American respondents living in Florida said they agreed with it, while 63% of Cuban Americans living elsewhere in the U.S. agreed. Similarly, 56% of Cuban Americans living outside of Florida said they had a favorable impression of Obama’s Cuba policy, while only 41% of respondents in Florida agreed (a 50% plurality said they had an unfavorable impression).

Nonetheless, 52% of respondents said that they would oppose a trip to Cuba by Obama during the remainder of his term, a possibility that Obama has endorsed on condition that he be permitted to meet with opposition figures.

The survey was conducted December 14-16.

Photo: Cuban President Raul Castro meets with President Obama.

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.


One Comment

  1. The poll is not reliable; neither is the polling firm that initiated the survey. The sample size is minute and not statistically significant. Many Cuban-Americans and exiles are vehemently opposed to Obama’s failed Cuba policy. I am definitely opposed. I have witnessed through various, reputable periodicals on the island and abroad the great harm and evil that has been inflicted on innocent Cubans since Obama’s immoral and illegal rapprochement with the Castro dictatorship. Legitimizing and financially strengthening a dictatorship that is hell bent on eradicating the pro-democracy opposition through beatings, torture, imprisonment and murder, is immoral and ILLEGAL. Cuba’s dissidents and former Cuban political prisoners have expressed their disgust and outrage with Obama’s Cuba policy. Those who vacation or do business in Cuba facilitate the ongoing, horrific repression, and their traitorous acts will incur shame and embarrassment when the Castro regime is finally vanquished. Stand in solidarity with Cuba’s dissidents. Do not bring shame to yourselves and your families through apathy and complicity.

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