A majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade approve President Donald Trump’s handling of the economy, health and politics toward Cuba, and will vote for it in the upcoming November elections, according to the latest edition of Florida International University’s Cuba survey.
59 percent of Cuban Americans interviewed said they would vote to re-elect Trump. Only 25 percent said they would do it for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The telephone survey, the results of which were published on Friday, included 1002 participants who were interviewed between July 7 and August 17. It has an error range of plus/minus 3.1 percentage points.
The results indicate that most Cuban-American voters support the administration’s policies towards Cuba on issues such as the maintenance of the embargo (54%), the imposition of new sanctions to force regime change on the island (68%) and the elimination of cruise ships (55%).
There is only one line where Cuban-Americans do not support the president’s policies regarding Cuba: immigration. 58 percent of respondents oppose the suspension of visa procedures at the U.S. embassy in Havana and the family reunification program.
The study, conducted by FIU every two years since the 1990s of the last century, also shows the paradoxes and opinions found in the community. For example, although most are in favor of maintaining the embargo, 66 percent of respondents also believe that it has not worked or has not worked very well. And 57 percent also support suspending sanctions during the coronavirus pandemic.
The shift in policy views toward Cuba, regarding the years of the Obama administration, when many Cuban Americans supported policies to bring the island closer together, suggests that the community “is part of American politics and follows leadership on issues that concern it,” said Guillermo Grenier, the studio director and head of FIU’s Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies.
Despite the high popularity of Trump’s policies, the study shows that the community also supports some of Obama’s policies, such as maintaining diplomatic relations with Cuba and implementing policies in support of the Cuban people. But in general, policy toward Cuba is not a priority issue for Cuban-American voters, much more concerned about the economy and health care.
“It’s not surprising that the survey measure a certain amount of ambivalence in the population,” Grenier said. “Most Cubans want a change in Cuba and U.S. policy toward Cuba. They are unclear, even after 60 years of experience, whether isolation or rapprochement will bring about change, so they are leaving the door open to closer approach while pointing out that, perhaps because of the leadership of Trump and his administration, they are willing to support isolation policies. Still, both trends are evident in the community.”
CUBANS NEWCOMERS BECOME REPUBLICANS
For Grenier, the biggest surprise in the results is the GOP’s advancement in the community, especially among the Cubans who recently arrived in the country. 76 percent of respondents who arrived between 2010 and 2015 said they were Republicans.
Possible causes of THE GOP’s “rejuvenation” may include the largest presence of the party and the Trump administration in the county. “It’s a natural attraction for those people who come and want to feel part of the community, for those who want to feel empowered. Historically, the Republican Party has been better at talking to Cubans than the Democratic Party.”
But attitudes toward the Cuban government could also influence newcomers’ strong support for hard-line policies toward Cuba and the Republican Party at large. The trend had been picked up in a 2019 poll conducted by Democratic pollster Equis Research.
“Those who arrived between 2010 and 2015 are not Batistians. They are a direct product of the Revolution. Cuban government policies and resistance to reform continue to create generational waves of opposition,” said Ric Herrero, executive director of Cuba Study Group. “But instead of giving them representation at home, the system sends their aggrieved citizens to Florida, where they do vote.”
The FIU study confirms the trend of strong support for Trump among Cuban-Americans that has already been reflected in several polls. Cuban-Americans form the basis of the Republican Party in Miami-Dade and most of the Hispanic voters registered in the county, so their vote could make a difference in one of the country’s major undecided states.
And the poll shows the progress Trump has made since 2016, when he is estimated to have won about 54 percent of the Cuban-American vote. Support for the president is so strong in the community that Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade have become an atypical group in the country, even giving a high assessment to their management of the coronavirus pandemic.
Forty-one percent of respondents said they “strongly support” and 22 percent said they “support a little” Trump’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Only Democrats, those born in the United States, and independents expressed their opposition.