FIU poll: Majority of Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade support Obama policy
BY PATRICIA MAZZEI
In the 18 months since President Barack Obama announced a new U.S.-Cuba
policy, more Miami-Dade County Cuban Americans are in favor of
diplomatic and civic engagement with the island, and more against the
trade embargo, a new Florida International University poll shows.
Though there's still strong support for special immigration policies for
Cubans, a majority of their Miami-Dade brethren said that the law that
gives recent arrivals access to government welfare benefits should be
changed to first require proof of political persecution.
The results are from FIU's first poll of Miami-Dade Cubans since Dec.
17, 2015, the date when Obama said he would reestablish diplomatic
relations with Cuba. Prior surveys, which the university began
conducting in 1991, had showed increase public support for reengagement
with the island. The latest data suggest Obama's policy has pushed that
trend even further.
"It's given kind of a space for that kind of attitude — out of
frustration, out of hope, out of something — where it can be expressed
more," said Guillermo Grenier, one of the professors who conducted the
survey of 1,000 respondents for the university's Cuban Research Institute.
This being a presidential election year, the pollsters also tried to
gauge Hillary Clinton's and Donald Trump's popularity among local
Cubans. They favored Trump by 36-31 percent, though that number is
somewhat stale because the survey was conducted from July 11-Aug. 12.
Still, that result — slightly outside the poll's error margin of plus or
minus 3.1 percentage points — indicates trouble for Trump among Cuban
Americans, the most Republican-leaning of all Hispanic voters.
"Cubans have never given so little support to the Republican candidate,"
Grenier said. His finding echoes a survey conducted earlier this year by
Republican pollster Dario Moreno, who feared Trump's candidacy would
drive Miami-Dade Cubans out of the GOP.
Of FIU's respondents, 54 percent were Republican, 22 percent Democrat
and 25 percent independent. Most respondents who arrived in the U.S.
before 1994 are Republican.
For the first time in the poll's history, a clear majority of
respondents — 54 percent — wants to end the Cuban embargo, compared to
32 percent who want to keep it and 14 percent who don't know or wouldn't
say. The last time FIU conducted the poll, in 2014, respondents were
against the embargo by 45-41 percent, with 12 percent in the
The 2014 poll drew criticism because it didn't disseminate the
don't-know/wouldn't-answer numbers, as is standard in most
public-opinion polling. The 2016 poll includes that data.
Asked if the embargo was successful, 55 percent said it wasn't "at all."
Only 17 percent said it worked well or very well, with 19 percent saying
it had worked "not very well."
Fifty-six percent said they strongly favor or mostly favor the new
U.S.-Cuba policy. Among the most eager supporters were respondents born
in Cuba, who backed the policy by 65 percent.
Just because respondents want to end the embargo and engage with the
island in other ways doesn't mean they think that will bring change to
Cuba, according to the poll. Forty-one percent said they "never" expect
major political changes to take place.
The Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows Cubans to apply for U.S.
residency after 366 days in the country, got the backing of 60 percent
of respondents. While still a majority, that represents a significant
drop from 2014, when support — without the don't-know/wouldn't-answer
categories — hovered at about 80 percent.
Sixty-two percent favored changing the law to require proof of political
persecution before granting Cubans welfare benefts. The poll asked the
questions as a change to an interpretation of the Cuban Adjustment Law,
though the benefits are provided under a separate law that treats Cubans
as automatic refugees.
Two Miami Republicans facing reelection, Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep.
Carlos Curbelo, have filed legislation that would do away with those
Source: FIU poll: Majority of Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade support
Obama policy on Cuba | Miami Herald -