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AMERICAN VOTERS ON US-CUBA POLICY

As the US and Cuba take historic steps to normalize relations, our latest national study finds that most American voters
support expanding trade and diplomatic relations with Havana over the previous embargo strategy, including as an approach
to improve human rights on the island.
Major Findings:

A Bipartisan Majority Supports Ending the Cuban Embargo. While the embargo may be a contentious issue on
Capitol Hill, there is bipartisan agreement beyond the Beltway that Congress should end the embargo. Two-thirds of
Americans (64%) say Congress should end the embargo, including 74% of Democrats, 51% of Republicans, and 64%
of Independents. Opinions among Republican voters on whether to maintain or end the embargo varied most by
education level. Republicans with college degrees support ending the embargo by a 58%-42% margin. By contrast,
Republicans who have not graduated from college support maintaining the embargo by a 56%-44% margin.

In your view what should Congress do next with regards to US policy toward Cuba?
Maintain the Embargo
End the Embargo

36%
64%

49%

ALL VOTERS

51%

REPUBLICANS

26%

36%
74%

DEMOCRATS

64%
INDEPEDENTS

On Human Rights, Voters Believe Trade and Diplomacy Yield Better Results than Sanctions and
Isolation. We informed voters that the Castro regime has a well-documented record of committing human
rights violations against its people and then asked them to select which of two approaches to US policy to
Cuba was likelier to improve human rights on the island.
Support for engaging Cuba through trade, travel, and diplomacy
as a strategy for improving its poor record on human rights was
supported by a majority of voters (72%) and across all parties,
ethnicities, and ideologies, including 59% of Republicans, 81% of

Independent groups have said the Cuban


government commits serious human rights violations
against its people. Generally speaking, which of the
following two approaches do you believe is likelier to
help improve human rights in Cuba?

Democrats, and 74% of Independents. Republicans under 50 are


more supportive of trade, travel, and diplomacy as an approach

28%

Keep the US embargo, cut-off


travel and trade with the island by
Americans, and have no diplomatic
relations with Cuba.

72%

Expand travel and trade with the


island by Americans, have direct
diplomacy with Cuba, and work with
other nations to raise the issue of
human rights.

to address Cubas human rights record than older GOP voters.


Among younger Republicans, 63% selected trade, travel and
diplomacy, while 37% said keeping the embargo and having no
diplomatic ties with Cuba was likelier to improve human rights
on the island. Meanwhile, 45% of Republicans over 50 said the
embargo was a better approach and 55% said expanding trade
and travel and diplomacy was likelier to improve human rights.

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71% of Voters Believe the New Policy is in the Best Interests of the US and Cuban People. We presented
voters with two contrasting opinions about President Obamas recent Cuba policy changes and asked them to select
the one that most closely reflected their point of view. Seventy-one percent of voters selected that the policy changes
are in the best interests of the US and Cuban people, and 29% selected that the policy changes are a unilateral
concession to the Castro dictatorship. Among those who said the policy changes were in the best interests of the
US and Cuban people were 82% of Democrats, 71% of Independents, and 57% of Republicans. Among Republicans,
opinions about the new policy varies by age. Sixty-four percent of Republicans under 50 say the policy benefits the
US and Cuban people, while 36% say it was a concession to Castro. By contrast, 51% of GOP voters over 50 say the
Presidents policy was in the best interests of the US and Cuban people, and 49% sided with those who say it is a
unilateral concession to the Castro dictatorship.

As you may know, the US recently eased some trade and travel sanctions on Cuba, making it easier for Americans and US companies to
travel and do business on the island. Which of the following statements is closer to your point of view about these policy changes?

71%

The policy changes are a


unilateral concession to the
Castro dictatorship.

The policy changes are in the


best interests of the US and of
the Cuban people.

29%

Many Embargo Supporters are Split on New US Policy and Human Rights Strategy. Among voters who
originally indicated they support the embargo, 47% said they side with those who say the new US policy toward the
island is in the best interests of the United States and Cuban people, while 53% said they side with those who say it
is a unilateral concession to the Castro dictatorship.
Similarly, among embargo supporters, 44% said they believe that expanding trade and travel with Cuba, having direct
diplomacy with Havana, and working with other nations to raise the issue of human rights on the island was a better
approach for improving human rights in Cuba. Conversely, 56% of embargo supporters said cutting off trade and
travel with Cuba and having no diplomatic relations with the island was likelier to improve human rights.

VIEWS OF US-CUBA POLICY AMONG EMBARGO SUPPORTERS


Recent Policy Changes

47%

The policy changes


are in the best
interests of the US
and of the Cuban
people.

53%

Which approach is likelier to improve human rights in Cuba?

The policy changes


are a unilateral
concession to the
Castro dictatorship.

56%

Keep the US
embargo, cut-off
travel and trade
with the island by
Americans,
and have no
diplomatic relations
with Cuba.

44%

Expand travel and


trade with the island by
Americans, have direct
diplomacy with Cuba,
and work with other
nations to raise the issue
of human rights.

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THE BOT TOM LINE


Public polling has consistently shown Castro to be deeply unpopular in the United States and it is clear that a
majority of American voters do not view the embargo as the best strategy for dealing with his regime on
human rights or advancing US interests.

To put it in perspective: Castros unfavorable ratings are among the worst ever tested in the US

3%

97%

1%
3%

96%

83%

5%
12%

OSAMA BIN LADEN


Unfavorable

Favorable

SADDAM HUSSEIN
Dont Know

FIDEL CASTRO
Source: Gallup

When voters were informed of the Cuban regimes human rights violations, and asked to select an approach for
dealing with Cuba, support for the embargo changesin favor of diplomacy, travel, and trade as a better
strategy than the embargo to address Cubas poor human rights record.
Opponents of the new US-Cuba policy claim it is a concession to the Castro dictatorship, but our study found that
is not how voters view the policy, including 57% of Republican voters and 47% of embargo supporters who said
the policy is in the best interests of the United States and Cuban people more closely reflected their views.

Beyond the Beltway is a joint public polling initiative led by Pete Brodnitz and Mike Gehrke of the Washington, D.C. office of Benenson Strategy Group (BSG) and Doug
Thornell and JB Poersch of SKDKnickerbocker. BSG is a leading strategic research consultancy that advises many of the worlds most successful companies, heads of state,
and institutions, including the President of the United States, Toyota, and Intel. SKDKnickerbocker delivers unparalleled strategic communications advice to Fortune 500
companies, non-profits, philanthropic organizations, labor unions, and political committees and candidates.
This poll was done by BSG and consists of 1,032 total interviews conducted February 26-27 among registered voters selected from an opt-in online panel to match the
demographics and other characteristics of the national registered voter population. The margin of error for overall results is 3.05% and higher among subgroups.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. This report includes a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific
set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling.
For more information, please contact Natalie Raps at nraps@skdknick.com

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