Polls show shift in favor of US-Cuba relations

President Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba on Wednesday sparked fierce debate, but polling shows he’s on the right side of public opinion.

Two polls released this year show a broad shift among Cuban-Americans in Florida and Americans nationally in favor of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

{mosads}A Florida International University poll of Cuban-Americans from June found that a strong majority — 68 percent — favors reestablishing diplomatic relations with the island country, and 69 percent favor lifting travel restrictions.

The same poll from 2004 found that only 39 percent of Cuban-Americans favored reestablishing diplomatic ties with Cuba, with 52 percent in opposition. In 1993, the same poll found that 80 percent favored the policy of no diplomatic ties with Cuba.

In addition, 52 percent of Cuban-Americans now oppose the U.S. trade embargo, with 71 percent saying it hasn’t worked. The same poll from 2004 found that strong majority — 59 percent — in favor of continuing the trade restrictions. In 1993, 85 percent favored tightening the embargo.

The trends among Cuban-Americans in Florida mirror how voters nationally view U.S. policy toward Cuba.

An Atlantic Council poll from February found that 56 percent are in favor of normalizing relations with Cuba, including 62 percent of Hispanics nationwide. That support crossed both parties, with 60 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans favoring normalized relations.

Gallup’s polling from the last 17 years shows a steady increase in American perceptions of Cuba. While 57 percent still have a negative view of the country, compared to 38 percent with a positive view, in 2006 those numbers stood at 71 percent negative and 21 percent positive.

Still, the politics of U.S.-Cuba relations are complicated. Sixty-three percent of Cuban-Americans say the country should remain on the State Department’s list of countries that sponsor terrorism, according to the university poll.

And while President Obama has strong support from Hispanics nationally, he failed to win the Cuban-American vote in both 2008 and 2012.

The university survey of 1,000 Cuban-Americans living in Miami-Dade County has a 3.1 percentage point margin of error.

The Atlantic Council poll of 1,024 U.S. adults was conducted Jan. 7-22 and has 3.1-point margin of error.

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