A strong majority of Americans back re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, as well as lifting trade and travel restrictions with the country.


new Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday found that 64 percent of Americans want to restart diplomatic ties with Cuba. Democrats are significantly more likely to back a shift in policy toward the communist island; 77 percent of Democrats support a change, compared to 49 percent of Republicans. 

Public support for lifting travel and trade bans is also more popular among Democrats. Seventy-nine percent of Democrats support removing the trade embargo, compared to 57 percent of Republicans. Removing travel restrictions is even more popular; 85 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans want unrestricted travel to Cuba.

Last week, President Obama announced that the U.S. would renew political ties between the two countries for the first time since the U.S. enacted trade and travel embargoes in 1960 and cut diplomatic relations during the Cold War. The thaw was coupled with Cuba's release of Alan Gross, an American aid worker who spent five years in prison. The U.S. also released three Cuban spies in exchange for an individual who aided American intelligence.

The president will move to re-establish an embassy in Havana and engage in diplomatic talks with the country as well as take steps to ease travel and business restrictions.

But the central pieces of American policy with Cuba, the trade and travel embargos, are laws passed by Congress that will remain in effect regardless of the president’s actions. Obama urged Congress to reexamine these policies when lawmakers return for the new year. 

A number of potential 2016 Republican presidential contenders, though, have voiced opposition to the president's moves, including Former Gov. Jeb Bush (Fla.) and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioAlabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs daylight savings bill Study: Early unemployment cutoff would cost 16M people 0B The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE (Fla.). Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP lawmaker calls for Wuhan probe to 'prevent the next pandemic' All congressional Democrats say they have been vaccinated: CNN Fauci on Rand Paul: 'I just don't understand what the problem is with him' MORE (R-Ky.), who is also weighing a 2016 bid, however, has said the 50-plus year Cuban embargo failed to work.