–By Madeline Baro for FIU News
A majority of Cuban Americans support President Donald Trump and plan to vote for him in November, according to the latest FIU Cuba Poll.
They gave Trump high marks on his handling of key national issues such as the COVID-19 crisis, immigration, health care, Cuba policy, China policy and the economy, and mixed but still supportive reviews on his handling of race relations and national protests. The Cuba Poll, which is the longest-running research project measuring Cuban American public opinion, also found increased support for isolationist policies and for the U.S. embargo on Cuba.
“Cubans remain a majority Republican ethnic group and like the majority of Republicans throughout the country, they are supportive of President Trump and his administration’s approach to governing,” said Guillermo Grenier, the principal investigator on the project and chair of the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies in the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs, the primary sponsor of the poll. “He receives high marks on handling all of the measured key national issues as well as his handling of Cuba policy and will receive a strong majority of the Cuban-American vote on Election Day.”
A total of 1,002 Cuban Americans were polled from July 7 to Aug. 17. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent. The poll was conducted by Grenier and Qing Lai, associate professor of sociology in the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies.
Support for the embargo has fluctuated over the past three decades. The 2020 poll found 60 percent of Cuban Americans support the policy, continuing an upward trend seen initially in the 2018 poll. This is the highest level of support since 2007. Younger Cuban Americans are more likely to oppose the embargo (46 percent) as are Cuban Americans who were not born in Cuba (50 percent) and registered Democrats (72 percent). The general support for the embargo is expressed simultaneously with the view, by 71 percent of the population, that the embargo has not been an effective policy.
“There is strong support to give antagonism a chance,” Grenier said. “The political narrative encouraging engagement has been replaced by one encouraging isolation of Cuba. This is a national narrative and Cubans are more sensitive to it than other groups.”
Grenier and Lai characterized the tendencies in the results of the poll as either supporting “policies of the carrot” (engagement) or “policies of the stick” (isolation).
When it comes to the “policies of the stick,” 73 percent of respondents support polices that are designed to promote regime change by putting maximum pressure on the Cuban government. All categories of respondents expressed overwhelming support for hardline policies, with only registered Democrats and the oldest respondents (76 years of age and above) opposing the policies. The increased support for the embargo is also an indication of this type of assertive policy.
In the “policies of the carrot” camp, the sociologists noted the strong support for suspending embargo sanctions during the COVID-19 crisis (61 percent), high support for engagement measures such as selling of food (69 percent) and medicines (74 percent), and strong support for policies designed specifically to improve the economic well-being of Cubans on the island (70 percent). Also, while fewer Cuban Americans support a policy of unrestricted travel compared to the 2018 poll (47 percent in 2020 vs. 57 percent in 2018), the support for airlines to establish routes to all regions of Cuba is strong (65 percent). The pollsters noted that about half of Cuban Americans in South Florida send remittances to family members on the island and 70 percent have close relatives or significant others living in Cuba.
“It is not surprising that the poll measures a certain amount of ambivalence in the population,” Grenier said. “Most Cubans desire change in Cuba and in U.S. Cuba policy. They are unclear, even after 60 years of experience, whether isolation or engagement will bring about change so they are leaving the door open to more engagement while signaling that, perhaps due to the leadership provided by Trump and his administration, they are willing to give isolation policies their support. Still, both tendencies are evident in the community.”
Florida International University’s Cuban Research Institute (CRI) began sponsoring the Cuba Poll in 1991 to record a snapshot of the Cuban-American community at a time of major geopolitical change, including the collapse of the Soviet Union. Funding for the 2020 Cuba Poll was provided by the Green School, CRI and the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, the FIU Office of the President and the Division of External Relations, Strategic Communication and Marketing.