Obama’s Cuba Gambit: Right on the Public Opinion Money

So today we have the first big national poll to come out since the president proposed to semi-normalize relations with Cuba. It’s from WaPo/ABC, and it’s very good news for Obama, per Scott Clement’s report:

A large majority of Americans support establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba, and even larger — and growing — majorities support an end to trade and travel bans to the country, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The national survey finds little erosion in public support after President Obama announced sweeping changes in U.S.-Cuba policy, despite his weak approval ratings nationally. Sixty-four percent support establishing ties with Cuba, similar to 66 percent in a 2009 Post-ABC poll asking whether the United States should do so.

Sixty-eight percent support ending the trade embargo with Cuba — up 11 points from 2009 — and 74 percent support ending travel restrictions to Cuba — a jump of 19 points from five years ago.

And dig this:

Republicans continue to split on establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba overall, with 49 percent supporting and 47 percent opposing the idea — a similar split to 2009. The intra-party disagreement was aired publicly this week by two potential GOP presidential candidates, as Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) forcefully rejected Obama’s move and Rand Paul (Ky.) voiced encouragement….

The GOP aside, majorities in nearly every other major demographic group in the survey support establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba, along with scuttling travel and trade bans. Independents support renewed diplomatic ties by a 63-32 margin, with 67 percent supporting lifting the embargo and 72 percent backing travel between countries. More than three quarters of Democrats support all three proposals tested in the poll.

Hispanics are among the most supportive of re-starting diplomatic relations with Cuba; 75 percent support doing so, while 20 percent are opposed.

Clement notes that a separate poll shows Cuban-Americans split, much like Republicans, on Obama’s initiative, with a big generational division (younger Cuban-Americans being much more likely to support normalization of relations).

Short of unanimity, I’m not sure how much better this polling could be for Obama: Republican deeply divided, and pretty much everybody else leaning heavily the other way. The WaPo/ABC poll doesn’t indicated how many respondents said: “Remind me again why we have one policy for Cuba and another for the rest of the word?” But I bet there were plenty.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.