HUFFPOLLSTER: Americans Open To Warmer Relations With Cuba

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 17: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (C), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) (R) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) (L), talk about their efforts to retrieve U.S. contractor Alan Gross from prison in Cuba on December 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. The three lawmakers flew to Cuba to bring Gross, held in Cuba since 2009, back to the United States. U.S. President Barack Obama announced today plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, over 50 years after they were severed in January 1961. (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 17: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (C), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) (R) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) (L), talk about their efforts to retrieve U.S. contractor Alan Gross from prison in Cuba on December 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. The three lawmakers flew to Cuba to bring Gross, held in Cuba since 2009, back to the United States. U.S. President Barack Obama announced today plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, over 50 years after they were severed in January 1961. (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)

Before President Obama's announcement on Cuba, Americans were largely open to re-establishing relations with Cuba, but opinions among Cuban-Americans may be more complicated. And the American Dream isn't what it used to be. This is HuffPollster for Thursday, December 18, 2014.

RECENT SUPPORT FOR RE-ESTABLISHING CUBA RELATIONS - HuffPollster: "Most Americans...think the U.S. should re-establish diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times. The survey, conducted in October, found that 56 percent of Americans favored re-establishing ties with Cuba, while 29 percent oppose doing so. After American Alan Gross was released from a Cuban prison Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would start the process to normalize relations with Cuba. He also said the U.S. will ease its embargo on Cuba and called for debate to consider lifting it. Americans' overall views of Cuba in the October poll were lukewarm, with 39 percent rating the country favorably, 34 percent rating it unfavorably, and another 26 percent undecided. While Republicans were more likely than Democrats to hold a negative opinion, there was little difference between Hispanic Americans and Americans as a whole, the survey found." [HuffPost, NYT]

Similar to other recent polling - More from HuffPollster: "A YouGov/Economist survey conducted earlier this year -- as well as four polls in April 2009, after President Barack Obama expressed openness to a thaw in relations with Cuba -- also found majority support for reopening diplomatic relationships." [See also YouGov, Polling Report]


Support for diplomatic relations up since 1990s - Aaron Blake: "A Washington Post-ABC News poll in 2009 -- the last one that was conducted on the subject -- showed that two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) wanted to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, while 27 percent opposed doing so. And views on the matter have shifted rapidly -- about as rapidly as anything in politics, in fact. In 1998, Americans opposed setting up diplomatic relations, 56 percent to 38 percent. Since then, they have gradually and steadily embraced more open relations. People are somewhat less keen on the idea of ending the trade embargo and opening travel to Cuba -- two other major issues at hand as the two countries engage in talks. But both still had majority support [in 2009]; 57 percent wanted to end the embargo, while 55 percent wanted to end travel restrictions." [WashPost]


Support also high among Latinos, in Florida - A poll commissioned in early 2014 by the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council: "For decades the rhetoric around changing Cuba policy has been that Florida would never let it happen. The results from this poll challenge that long-held belief by putting Florida 7 percentage points ahead of the nation in favoring normalization. Not only are Floridians more willing than a supportive nation for change, but [Floridians] favor strongly favor normalization by 8 percentage points more than the country as a whole. Latinos share near identical levels of support. Floridians and Latinos are more likely to be well-educated on the issue of the US-Cuba relationship because of geographic and personal ties. The numbers indicate that the closer people are to the issue, the more likely they are to favor changing policy." The poll was conducted by the bipartisan team of pollsters Paul Maslin (D) and Glen Bolger (R). On Wednesday, the Atlantic Council expressed support for engagement with Cuba. [Atlantic Council, full report, statement on policy change]


South Florida Cubans divided on embargo - Harry Enten: "Opinions on U.S.-Cuban relations have changed vastly in the past 15 years. The Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University has been polling Cuban-Americans living in South Florida since 1991. On the embargo question, Cuban-Americans had favored maintaining or strengthening it; today, a slight majority oppose it. Only 48 percent favor the embargo. That compares with 87 percent when the question was first asked 23 years ago and 62 percent in 2000." [538]


Cuban vote has shifted to Democrats - Philip Bump: "When we talk about the politics of Cuba, we're talking about one thing: Florida...Florida is home to three-quarters of the country's Cuban population...And as Pew Research found in June, the Cuban population in the United States has shifted to the left politically. When the organization polled in 2000, nearly two-thirds of Cubans identified as Republican, in part a function of the party's strong history of criticizing the regime of Fidel Castro. Since, that has shifted dramatically. In 2012, Obama won a majority of the Cuban-American vote in Miami. He won Cubans nationally by two points." [WashPost]


How will Florida's Cubans react? - Nate Cohn: "It’s hard to know whether Mr. Obama’s decision will move the needle among Cuban-American voters. Polling data reflecting Mr. Obama’s decision, which will arrive in a few weeks, will tell us more....[However] Mr. Obama managed to make substantial gains among Cuban-Americans [in 2012] even though he was open to revising Cuba policy. Mr. Crist also ran on a more open Cuba policy and won the Cuban-American vote in the exit polls last month. The fact that Mr. Crist’s advisers thought it strategic to emphasize the issue may be an indication of what their polling data showed." [NYT]

AMERICANS HAVE MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT THE AMERICAN DREAM - The American Enterprise Institute's Karlyn Bowman: "[W]hat exactly are Americans saying about the dream and how have their views of it changed over time? Do Americans believe the dream is endangered? The answers are more complicated than one might think…. Americans, by and large, believe that they can achieve their own personal version of the dream. This view has changed little over the past 30 years....Our review also suggests that people always say the challenges for the next generation will be greater than the ones they have faced….It is the public’s collective judgment about the American Dream that has undergone worrying changes. We put more weight on what people say about their own experiences, but what people think about the average American’s experiences drives our political conversation. And here, as a result of the 2008 financial crash and its aftermath, pessimism about the present and the future is palpable."

Belief in the American dream as a whole at a low ebb - Andrew Ross Sorkin and Megan Thee-Brenan: "Despite an improving economy and jobs picture, the public is more pessimistic than it was after the 2008 financial crisis that it is possible to work hard and become rich, according to a New York Times poll. The poll, which explored Americans’ opinions on a wide range of economic and financial issues, found that only 64 percent of respondents said they still believed in the American dream, the lowest result in roughly two decades. Even near the depth of the financial crisis in early 2009, 72 percent of Americans still believed that hard work could result in riches….Notwithstanding the bleaker view of upward mobility, the majority of those polled said they were more concerned about the possibility that too much regulation in Washington could stymie the economy than they were about the prospect of inequality." [NYT]

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THURSDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

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-Jonathan Bernstein says polarization doesn't explain Obama's steady approval ratings. [Bloomberg]

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-WPA Opinion Research (R) shares its post-election analysis. [WPA]

-On an open-ended question, President Obama is the leading choice for person of the year. [YouGov]

-Nate Silver estimates that killing "The Interview" will cost Sony $100 million. [538]

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
1950 - Cars are parked along a narrow street as pedestrians walk in the shade in Havana, Cuba. At the time, the cars were considered new models. Now the same cars are still being driven.
Elizabeth Frey/Three Lions/Getty Images
Circa 1950 - Children play outside their shanty homes in Oriente Province, Cuba.
Gilberto Ante/Roger Viollet/Getty Images
Circa 1960 - Workers at a sugar factory in Cuba. Once one of the top sugar exporters in the world, Cuba's global share in the sugar industry has fallen from 12 percent in the 1960s to just 1 percent today, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Gilberto Ante/Roger Viollet/Getty Images
Circa 1969 - Fishermen in Manzanillo. In recent years, Cuba's fishing industry has been negatively affected by overfishing, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
Francoise De Mulder/Roger Viollet/Getty Images
1980 - A 1950s model Chevrolet is parked on the street in Havana.
Francoise De Mulder/Roger Viollet/Getty Images
1988 - Men sort empty bottles on a street in Havana.
Francoise De Mulder/Roger Viollet/Getty Images
1988 - Bodeguita del Medio, the most famous bar of Havana, frequented by Ernest Hemingway. The lifting of the trade embargo could stir a renaissance in Cuban-made spirits, specifically rum, The New York Post reports.
1993 - A fisherman and his wife sell their latest catch of fish. Previously, the pair had only fished for pleasure but an economic crisis forced them to begin selling their catch.
Independent Picture Service/UIG via Getty Images
1994 - Farmer with an ox team in the Vinales Valley, Cuba. Cuban farming has struggled in recent years due to the lack of availability of modern farm equipment, The Telegraph reports.
Independent Picture Service/UIG via Getty Images
1994 - Two people on a bicycle in rural Cuba.
Independent Picture Service/UIG via Getty Images
1994 - Farm workers loading bananas.
Circa 1995 - In the company of her daughter, a worker at a tobacco leaf cleaning station gets leaves ready for shipping to a tobacco manufacturer in San Juan y Matinez, site of one of the most important tobacco plantations in Cuba.
Peter Bischoff/Getty Images
1997 - A steam train outside Havana.
Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images
Date unknown - An old woman smokes an oversize cigar while working cigar maker Partagas in the Cuban capital Havana.
Robert Nickelsberg/Liaison
1999 - Cubans shop in one of Havana's main pesos food market Quatro Caminos in Havana. The Cuban economy was on the verge of collapsing at the time after the former Soviet Union ended its aid and the US imposed an embargo on Cuba.
1999 - Hundreds of Cubans are gathered on the waterfront of Havana during a school break. A majority of Havana residents opt for the polluted waters of the capital given the fact that they cannot reach other beaches due to the lack of transportation and the shortage of gasoline in general.
Robert Nickelsberg/Liaison
1999 - Cubans stand on the balcony of their apartment in Havana, Cuba.
Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images
2001 - Street scene in the old part of town of the Cuban capital Havana.
2001 - A man reads as he sits in a plaza surrounded by pigeons in Havana.
Julien M. Hekimian/Getty Images
2003 - A young Cuban plays baseball in the streets of Havana. The normalization of relations with Cuba could eventually cause an influx of Cuban athletes into American sports leagues, according to Vice.
Jorge Rey via Getty Images
2003 - Several earlier model American-made cars wait to be rented in Havana. New car imports have been allowed in Cuba since last year, but due to high prices, the island still largely relies on the classic cars for the time being, The Telegraph reports.
ADALBERTO ROQUE via Getty Images
2006 - A cigar roller smokes a cigar while she prepares tobacco leaves at Cuban cigar manufacturer Cohiba's factory.
Jan Sochor via Getty Images
2008 - A young Cuban woman distributes a limited amount of bread to her fellow citizens according to quotas of the Cuban rationing system, Santiago de Cuba.
STR via Getty Images
2009 - A Cuban schoolgirl sits at the foot of the entrance stairways in Havana.
AP Photo/Javier Galeano
2010 - A woman waits for a bus in front of the Capitol building in Havana.
AP Photo/Javier Galeano
2011 - A man checks the engine of his water cistern truck in Old Havana.
ADALBERTO ROQUE via Getty Images
2011 - Cigar rollers work as they listen to a reader on at H. Upmann Cigar Factory in Havana. The tradition of cigar factory readers -people that read newspapers, magazines and novels to cigar rollers- has 150 years in Cuba and there are almost 300 of them in the country.
AP Photo/Javier Galeano
2011 - Two men drive down the highway in a classic car in Soroa.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
2012 - People fill the street in a busy downtown neighborhood in Santiago de Cuba.
Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images
2012 - Cars drive down a street in Havana.
Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images
2012 - Men change the tire on an old Chevrolet in Havana.
ADALBERTO ROQUE via Getty Images
2013 - A fruits and vegetables retailer leaves a wholesale market in Havana.
AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa
2013 - A food vendor spreads out bananas. Cuba is the only country in the world that mints two national currencies, a bizarre system that even President Raul Castro acknowledges harms the island's socialist economy.
AP Photo/Franklin Reyes
2013 - A man drives a horse drawn carriage past a port under construction in Mariel Bay.
Roberto Machado Noa via Getty Images
2014 - Horse drawn carriage continues to be a regular form of transportation in Cuba.
AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa
2014 - A pregnant woman holds her belly while she talks on a public phone at a special maternity unit for high-risk pregnancies in Havana. The country's low birth rate problem is a result of some of the most notable successes of its 55-year-old socialist revolution.