Every once in a while, a political canard is exposed—something that once may have been generally accepted and perhaps true, but has remained a part of the conventional wisdom.
Such is the case with the view that any kind of normalization of relations with Cuba is a political third rail; that is to say, if you touch it, you die (or get defeated). In the Cold War era, particularly in the 1960s, normalization of relations with Cuba was a nonstarter, and in fact, it was dangerous for most politicians to support.
But that day has long since passed. In all but possibly a handful of congressional districts in Florida and New Jersey—if even there—this is a nothing-burger issue. Few voters would have any problem with it. Like the missile silos in North Dakota, our policy toward Cuba is a Cold War relic that has long since passed its time.
A new bipartisan national survey points to strong and broad-based support for a major change in U.S. policy toward Cuba, even among Republicans.
Indeed, Republican members representing farm states have a particular incentive to support legislation that would create a new market for U.S. goods, particularly corn and grain, just 90 miles off the coast of Florida.
Commissioned by the Atlantic Council, a highly respected foreign policy think tank, and its Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, the poll was conducted Jan. 7-22, in English and Spanish, among 1,024 adults nationwide. The survey also included an over-sample of 617 Floridians, so that their attitudes could be given particular focus, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points nationally and 4.0 points for the Florida group. The survey was conducted jointly by Republican pollster Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollster Paul Maslin of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz, & Associates. Both are among the best pollsters in the country.
Nationally, 56 percent of Americans support either normalizing relations or engaging more directly with Cuba; just 35 percent are opposed. Support for a policy change is also reflected in the numbers of people who feel most intensely about the issue, with 30 percent of the overall sample strongly favoring such a change and 26 percent somewhat in favor, while 22 percent strongly oppose and another 13 percent somewhat oppose this. Nine percent have no opinion. Among Democrats and independents, 60 percent favor changing relations; 31 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of independents are opposed. Even among Republicans, 52 percent favor a change in policy, with 41 percent in opposition.