Most Cuban-Americans Support Obama’s Opening To Cuba

New polling on President Obama's opening to Cuba is likely to surprise some, and disappoint others.

Diana Nyad

A new poll finds that most Cuban-Americans support the Obama Administration’s decision to open relations with Cuba and take steps toward lifting the economic embargo that has been in place for nearly fifty-five years:

A majority of Cuban-Americans support the White House’s new policy toward Cuba, according to a new poll released Wednesday, with 51 percent saying they agree with President Barack Obama’s decision to begin normalizing relations with the country and 40 percent opposing.

In the same poll conducted last December — after Obama’s announcement — 44 percent responded that they agreed with the change, and 48 percent disagreed.

Among Cuban-Americans born in the United States, that number is higher, with 66 percent agreeing; though only 45 percent of those born in Cuba agree with Obama’s decision.

By and large, younger Cuban-Americans born in the United States, and those who do not live in Florida, are more likely to support re-establishing relations.

Only 32 percent of Cuban-Americans who came to the U.S. before 1980 say they disagree with the move, while only 32 percent are in favor, compared with the 56 percent who came after 1980 who support the change in policy.

A majority of respondents aged 18 to 49 said normalizing relations is a good idea (69 percent for 18 to 29; 60 percent for 30 to 49), while a slim plurality of respondents aged 50 to 64 approved. Among those 65 and older, only 38 percent approve, compared to 54 percent who disapprove.

Among Florida residents, 41 percent back the policy change, compared with 49 percent who do not. A majority of Cuban-Americans living elsewhere in the U.S. responded that they support the move — 69 percent, compared with 23 percent.

The Obama Administration’s decision to open relations with Cuba hasn’t been in the news very much in the three months or so since it was announced. Largely, that’s likely because we’re now at the point where negotiations between Washington and Havana about further lifting of the economic embargo, as well as other issues, are going on behind the scenes and there really isn’t very much news to report. As I noted at the time, though, the initiative was both a good idea and one that was long overdue given the fact that the United States has relationships with regimes just as oppressive as Cuba’s and any rationale for the embargo itself ended when the Cold War ended. For the most part, of course, the news was greeted with disdain by Republicans in Congress, although Senator Rand Paul was one notable exception to that chorus of criticism and he engaged in some exchanges over the issue with Marco Rubio that could make the 2016 campaign rather interesting when it gets into gear.

This poll is interesting largely because it tends to show that the political calculus that is obviously motivating the Republican response to the Obama’s Cuba policy may be entirely wrong. As Steven Taylor noted back in December, the first polls taken in the wake of the announcement of the policy shift showed that the American public as a whole overwhelmingly supported the President on this issue. This poll, as well as others taken in the immediate wake show that even Cuban Americans tend to be supportive of the bill, most especially younger Cuban-Americans and those who were born in the United States rather than having emigrated from Cuba. Given this, it seems unlikely that the White House has put Democratic fortunes in states like Florida by going down this road. Indeed, according to exit polling President Obama received 48% of the Cuban-American vote in Florida in 2012, which is 13 points higher than the Democratic portion of the Cuban-American vote in 2008. Given this, Republican hopes that the opening to Cuba could give them an opening in Florida when the 2016 General Election rolls around don’t seem to be supported by the evidence.

FILED UNDER: Latin America, National Security, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. gVOR08 says:

    So while we thought we were doing something stupid because the Cuban voters in a big swing state wanted it, it turns out we were doing something stupid for no reason at all?

  2. If you had polled this issue 15 or 20 years ago you might have gotten different issues, but yea you’re basically right.

    As I said, to the extent there was ever a rationale for the embargo and our lack of diplomatic relations with Havana, it ended with the Cold War ended.

  3. Realist says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    This policy should have been junked at 25 years ago but it’s a good example of how ideologies dear to a part of the base can ossify and turn into albatrosses. I can give you a list of other albatrosses around the Republican neck that are going to take 25 years to get rid of.

  4. HarvardLaw92 says:

    It tends to show that the political calculus that is obviously motivating the Republican response to the Obama’s Cuba policy may be just about any policy issue in existence [is almost always] entirely wrong.


  5. C. Clavin says:

    The only ones who don’t think this is a good idea is Republicans, who don’t think anything is a good idea and haven’t going back to Goldwater.

  6. C. Clavin says:

    This is off topic…but let’s collectively recognize the level of stupidity that exists in the Party-Full-of-Stupid — Michelle Bachmann:

    With his Iran deal, Barack Obama is for the 300 million souls of the United States what Andreas Lubitz was for the 150 souls on the German Wings flight — a deranged pilot flying his entire nation into the rocks. After the fact, among the smoldering remains of American cities, the shocked survivors will ask, why did he do it?

  7. Realist says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Leaving aside the disgusting equivalence here it’s no different sense wise from that insane piece by Bolton in the NYT that indulged in similar fear mongering and urged bombing attacks on Iran.

  8. grumpy realist says:

    I think we can put this in the “parents who are still holding a grudge dying off” category.

    I mean, we had this bloody embargo in place for over 50 years and it hasn’t worked at dislodging Castro. So the thought is that another 50 years will somehow overthrow the gov’t? Since Castro will be long gone by then, I fail to understand how this is supposed to improve matters. Are the US Republicans planning to root up the inheritors of Bastita and appoint them rulers of Cuba, like it’s an inheritance?

    Or are we supposed to hand Cuba over to the other set of people in power on the island at the time of the Revolution–the Florida Mafia who were occupied into turning the whole area into a free-for-all incestuous pit of casinos, drugs, and prostitution, aided and abetted by the Rat Pack?

    What Castro did to Cuba may not have been great, but it’s miles above what it would have probably have otherwise turned into.

  9. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    AFAICT, they still think they are going to get their property back.

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist: You’re right. I guess public policy somedays is like physics.

    “Science advances one funeral at a time.” ― Max Planck

  11. grumpy realist says:

    @HarvardLaw92: The question is–do their kids and grandkids believe it?

    (I suspect a lot of kids are going to listen to their grandparents bitching about The Loss of The Plantation and think: no way do I want to live on an island with tarantulas all over the place. The wolf spiders in Florida are bad enough!)

    (I checked–the Goliath bird-eating spider isn’t native to Cuba. That’s the one that can get to be the size of a small dog.)

  12. Realist says:


    Some are still expecting a Czarist restoration.

  13. wr says:

    You mean it isn’t 1972 anymore? Has anyone told the Republican party?

  14. michael reynolds says:


    Doing something stupid for no reason at all!

    Pretty sure that’s the slogan we’ll see at the GOP convention in Cleveland.

  15. bill says:

    so the younger/dumber crowd is at it again? they grew up in a free society, their parents didn’t….makes sense now.

  16. anjin-san says:


    So do you advocate ending diplomatic relations with and banning travel to every country in the world that is not a democracy? Because if you don’t you just sound like a tool.

  17. JohnMcC says:

    @bill:No!! No!! Mr Bill, Mr Bill — you say that growing up in a free society makes people dumb?

    Do you know how stupid that makes you?

  18. grumpy realist says:

    @bill: Nah, it’s the “I don’t want to have tarantulas running through my bedroom crowd.”

    Have you SEEN the size of those suckers?!