WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As President Barack Obama weighs the future of U.S.-Cuba relations, Americans continue to express support for closer ties. Since 1999, a majority of Americans have consistently said they favor re-establishing U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba -- including 60% in a new Gallup Poll conducted after Obama's decision last week to relax some restrictions.
While Obama's move did not go as far as re-establishing full diplomatic relations with Cuba, his decision to grant Cuban-Americans rights to travel freely to Cuba and to send remittances there, and to give U.S. telecommunications companies the right to pursue business there represent a first step. On Sunday at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, Obama said that America's existing policy toward Cuba isn't working and that he would welcome reciprocal moves by Cuba to put the two nations on a path toward better relations.
Over the past decade, Gallup has found Americans remarkably steadfast in their views about U.S. relations with Cuba -- particularly in regard to the U.S. trade embargo. Since 1999, Americans have been more likely to support than oppose the U.S. government's ending its trade embargo against Cuba -- with support narrowly ranging between 48% and 51%, including 51% in the new poll.
Americans more widely support ending restrictions on travel to Cuba -- with 64% in favor.
Americans' views toward U.S.-Cuba policy remain divergent across political and ideological lines. Majorities of Democrats and liberals support re-establishing diplomatic relations and ending the trade embargo, while Republicans and conservatives tend to be far less supportive. There is more agreement on ending travel restrictions, something that a majority of each group supports.
Overall, Gallup Polls regarding U.S. relations with Cuba find Americans generally accepting of the U.S. taking a friendlier stance toward the island nation, as has been true over the past decade. However, Americans do distinguish between different specific policies toward Cuba. The fact that a solid majority support re-establishing U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba -- and have consistently done so for the past decade -- suggests that Obama's first step in this direction was likely well-received by the American public. Moves toward making it easier for all Americans to travel to Cuba will likely find majority support among the American public as well. Ending the trade embargo will be a tougher sell and likely a partisan battle.
Editorial note: While readers may be interested in Cuban-Americans' views on U.S.-Cuba relations, they represent a percentage of the overall U.S. population too small to be separated out in a standard nationwide poll such as this one.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,051 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted April 20-21, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
For results based on the half-samples of 524 national adults in Form A and 527 national adults in Form B, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.