In the 18 months since President Barack Obama announced a new U.S.-Cuba policy, his views have won bigger support among his most skeptic audience: Miami-Dade County Cuban Americans.
A new Florida International University poll shows a majority of local Cuban Americans — 56 percent — “strongly” or “mostly” favors reengagement with the island.
The results are from FIU’s first Cuba poll since Dec. 17, 2014, the date when Obama said he would reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba, and March 2016, when Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba in more than eight decades. Prior surveys, which the university began conducting in 1991, had a trend of increasing public support for normalizing Cuba relations. The latest data suggest Obama’s policy has pushed that trend even further.
“It’s given kind of a space for that kind of attitude — out of frustration, out of hope, out of something — where it can be expressed more,” said Guillermo Grenier, one of the professors who conducted the survey of 1,000 respondents for the university’s Cuban Research Institute.
For the first time in the poll’s history, a clear majority of respondents — 54 percent — also wants to end the Cuban embargo, compared to 32 percent who want to keep it (14 percent don’t know or wouldn’t say). The last time FIU conducted the poll, in 2014, respondents were against the embargo by 45-41 percent, with 12 percent in the don’t-know/wouldn’t-answer category.
Asked if the embargo was successful, 55 percent said it wasn’t “at all.” Only 17 percent said it worked well or very well, with 19 percent saying it had worked “not very well.”
This being a presidential election year, the pollsters also tried to gauge the popularity of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump among local Cubans. They favored Trump by 36-31 percent, though that number is somewhat stale because the survey was conducted from July 11-Aug. 12.
Photo credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald staff