A raft of new polls taken in the wake of the announcement by President Barack Obama to normalize relations with Cuba shows that more Americans want the half-century-old economic and trade embargo against the Spanish-speaking Caribbean country lifted.
The polls — conducted for The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and the Tampa Bay Times by CNN/ORC International, Langer Research/ABC-Washington Post, Reuters/Ipsos, and CBS and Bendixen & Amandi International — show that Cuban exile hardliners and Republicans are in the “clear minority nationwide when it comes to the embargo and re-establishing ties with Cuba, according to the Miami Herald.
But there’s one aspect of U.S.-Cuba policy that Cuban-Americans, rank-and-file Republicans nationwide and Americans in general agree on: Easing travel restrictions to the island, the Herald said.
The paper said the surveys are unwelcome — but not unexpected news — to embargo supporters, mostly centered in South Florida, where two potential presidential candidates, former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, have been outspoken about strengthening the embargo.
“We’ve found that the more information people learn about what happens in Cuba, the more they are to support U.S. policy,” said Mauricio Claver-Carone, executive director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, considered the U.S.’ premier political action committee that supports the exile community.
“That’s always been the challenge: Informing people,” he added. “We’re a small community, yes, but we have a big megaphone.”
In the U.S. in general, Republicans’ and the Cuban-American community’s attitudes about Cuba policy are decidedly in the minority, according to a comparison of national polls.
Due to differences in methodology or forms of questions, the individual polls differ from each other when it comes to topline results, the Herald said.
But it added that they all show a “clear break between majority opinion and that of either Cuban Americans or self-identified Republicans, some of whom might not be actual voters.”
In normalizing relations with Cuba, the ABC/Langer poll found that Americans back it 64-31 percent; while the Republicans are split 49-47 percent.
The CNN/ORC poll found Americans support normalizing relations with Cuba, 63-33 percent; while Republican support is split, 45-51 percent.
Americans support normalizing relations with Cuba, 45-22 percent, according to the Reuters/Ipsos poll, while Republicans’ support is 31-38 percent.
The Herald/Tampa Bay Times/Bendixen poll found that Cuban-Americans oppose normalization by 48-44 percent, while Republican Cuban-Americans oppose it 79-11 percent.
The CBS found Americans back normalization of relations 54-28 percent.
All the national polls surveyed about 1,000 people and have an error margin of 3.5 percentage points.
The Republican polling numbers have a larger error margin, according to the Herald.
On lifting the embargo against Cuba, ABC/Langer poll found that Americans want it ended, 68-29 percent; while Republicans want it ended 57-40 percent.
The CNN/ORC poll found Americans want the embargo ended, 55-40 percent; while Republicans want it ended 44-52 per cent.
Reuters/Ipsos: Americans want it ended, 40-26 percent; while Republicans want it ended 28-41 percent.
In the Herald/Tampa Bay Times/Bendixen poll, Cuban-Americans want the embargo discontinued, 44-40 percent; while Cuban-American Republicans wanted it to remain in place, 70-18 percent.
On travel restrictions, the ABC/Langer poll found that Americans want them ended, 74-24 percent, with Republicans at 64-33 percent.
The CNN/ORC found that Americans want the travel restrictions changed, 67-32 percent, with Republicans at 58-40 percent.
The Herald/Tampa Bay Times/Bendixen poll also found Cuban-Americans want the restrictions eased 47-39 percent, with Republican Cuban-Americans oppose easing, 56-26 percent.
“The polls reflect what we’ve long seen coming,” said Ric Herrero, executive director of Cuba Now, a group that supports Cuba engagement. “The American people have lost faith in the embargo and prefer engagement as a means to promoting our values and interests.”
Rubio along with U.S. congressional representatives in Southern Florida, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — all Republicans — say they’ll use their positions in the U.S. Congress to block efforts by Obama to fund his initiatives that would make it easier for people to travel to Cuba, use U.S. bank cards there or for the two countries to open consulates in each others’ country, according to the Herald.