Florida voters are more supportive of than opposed to President Donald Trump’s new Cuba policies, but neither of his big changes reaches 50 percent support in a new Florida Atlantic University poll. And the vast majority doesn’t think the shift will make life any better for the Cuban people.
Few Floridians think the new U.S. policy will make life better for Cubans. The poll found 36 percent believe the new policies would make life worse in Cuba, 21 percent said they would make life better, and 43 percent said they would make no difference.
The survey found uncertainty among Florida voters on many aspects of new and continuing policy toward Cuba, with large percentages not sure about the implications of several issues.
Individual travel: So-called “people-to-people” educational and cultural trips, which were often used by tourists, will be stopped. When the new rules are implemented, those travelers will have to be part of a group with documentation about the activities taking place.
In the poll, 44 percent of Florida voters supported the end to such individual travel, while 32 percent opposed the change and 24 percent weren’t sure.
Business restrictions: One of Trump’s new policies will prohibit in almost all circumstances doing business with Cuban companies that are owned by the military or state security services, which play a large role in the travel sector.
The survey found 43 percent of Florida voters support the prohibition on U.S. citizens engaging in financial transactions with those Cuban businesses. The new restriction is opposed by 25 percent with 32 percent not sure.
American embassy: Obama restored diplomatic relations between the two nations in December 2014, and Trump is keeping open the American embassy in Havana.
An overwhelming majority — 61 percent — of Floridians favor keeping an American embassy in Havana, 13 percent opposed and 25 percent not sure.
The poll included a limited explanation of “wet foot, dry foot.” It found 42 percent support the policy, 38 percent oppose it and 21 percent were unsure.
Trade embargo: Floridians have no consensus on the embargo limiting U.S. economic activities in Cuba, which is a law that can only be changed in Congress. Many lawmakers outside Florida from both parties, as well as business leaders, support ending the embargo. Many leading Republican elected officials in Florida vehemently oppose relaxing it.
The poll found 34 percent said the embargo should be ended, 34 percent said it should be continued, and 32 percent weren’t sure.
Overall, 46 percent of Florida voters said they supported Obama’s Cuba policies and 34 percent said they preferred Trump’s Cuba policies. When pollsters asked which voters support more, “President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba or President Trump’s decision to restrict some of those relations,” 8 percent said neither and 11 percent weren’t sure.
Voters views of Trump made a huge difference in which president’s Cuba policy they supported.
Among voters who approved of Trump’s performance as president, 86 percent supported the Trump policy toward Cuba. Just 6 percent of those voters picked Obama’s policies.
Among voters who disapproved of Trump’s handling of the presidency, 75 percent supported the Obama policy on Cuba. Just 4 percent of them supported Trump’s Cuba policy.
The FAU survey of 500 Florida residents, which was conducted entirely online, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Differences less than the margin of error are statistically insignificant, and the margin of error for subgroups, such as people who approve or disapprove of Trump’s performance, is larger because the sample size is smaller.
Public opinion experts have mixed views about online polls. Some warn that the entire population doesn’t have an equal chance of participating, since some people don’t have Internet access or won’t participate in online surveys. Others argue that research shows lack of online access and refusal to participate doesn’t necessarily produce different results and plenty of people won’t respond to telephone surveys.
Monica Escaleras, director of FAU’s Business and Economics Polling Initiative, has said the survey is far different from something that pops up on a computer screen and asks people to answer a question. FAU uses the firm Survey Sampling International, which asks people to participate via email, text and alerts from apps.
Escaleras said the responses are then weighted so that they match the state’s population by gender, race, region, education and age.