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Poll: Cuban-Americans less favorable than other likely voters to favor Obama’s Cuba policy; Rubio trails Bush, Clinton

A slight majority of likely voters nationwide favor President Barack Obama’s policy to normalize relations with Cuba, while a majority of Cuban-American voters think just the opposite, according to a survey to be released Monday by a Republican pollster.

The survey, carried out March 17-20 by OnMessage Inc., found that 51 percent approved of Obama’s Cuba policy. But only 41 percent of Cuban-Americans surveyed approved the president’s policy toward the communist island nation; 54 percent opposed it.

Similiar polls show that most Americans favor Obama's Cuba policy, while there is less support among Cuban-Americans. 

The poll of 700 likely voters nationwide included an oversample of 300 Cuban-American voters, most of whom lived in South Florida.

Interestingly, Cuban-Americans ranked the economy (20.1 percent), unemployment (6.3 percent), terrorism (6.6 percent), immigration (5.6 percent) and health care (4.3 percent) among the most important issues facing the United States. Only 2.3 percent of those surveyed deemed U.S relations with Cuba as an important issue. Among all voters surveyed, 26 percent said economic-related issues were at the top of their list of concerns.

When asked if they would vote for a Democrat or Republican in 2016, 50 percent of Cuban-Americans said they would vote for a Republican; 29 percent a Democrat; and, 19 percent said they were undecided. Among all voters, the opinion was more divided. About 35 percent said they would vote for a Democrat; 39 percent for Republicans; and, 24 percent were undecided.

Among a list of seven potential presidential Demoratic and Republican candidates, respondents were asked who would “best represent the United States in the world and strengthen our nation’s security. Cuban-American respondents gave the nod to Jeb Bush (29 percent) followed by Hillary Clinton (25 percent) and Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio garnered 12 percent. Republican Sen. Rand Paul, of Kentucky, Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, each garnered lower percentages. More than 18 percent declined to answer the question or found none worthy of leading the country.

Among all voters, however, Clinton was far ahead of the pack with 28 percent, followed by Bush (14 percent) in a distant second place. Trailing Bush was Walker (13 percent), along with Paul, Rubio and Warren, all at 7 percent.

In 2012, 50 percent of Cuban-Americans said they voted for Mitt Romney, while 38 percent said they voted for Obama, the poll found. More than 45 percent said they were Republicans and more than 43 percent said they were somewhat or very conservative. Only 32 percent said they were Democrats and 17 percent said they were liberal. Among all voters, about 47 percent voted for Obama; 43 percent for Romney.

Nearly 90 percent of those Cuban-Americans interviewed lived in Florida; the rest lived in New Jersey of New York.

The margin of error was +/- 3.70 percentage points.

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