Ready For Contact With Cuba

January 26, 2011, 5:08 PM GMT+0

Americans --- including many Republicans --- are ready to change public policy towards Cuba: the latest Economist/YouGov Poll finds a majority in favor of resuming diplomatic relations with Cuba --- relations that have been severed for decades.

52% of Americans would resume diplomatic relations with Cuba today, and just 16% oppose relations now. Majorities of Democrats (64%), independents (57%) and Hispanics (55%) support diplomatic relations with Cuba. Republicans who have an opinion about this, though more divided, narrowly support resuming diplomatic relations (37% of them favor it; 34% oppose it).

Americans are open to more informal contact between the two countries as well. 53% support allowing U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba (and an additional 10% would be willing to let Americans travel there if they were part of a cultural, religious or academic group. Only 12% would forbid travel to Cuba completely.

A plurality of Republicans (41%) support travel to Cuba (that figure rises to 56% when those who would support group-sponsored travel are included).

The public also supports trade with Cuba --- with money flowing in both directions. By 49% to 25%, they favor lifting the embargo with Cuba and letting Americans buy Cuban goods. By a similar margin (49% to 25%) they favor allowing Americans to send money directly to Cuban citizens --- as long as those Cubans are not members of the Cuban government or the Communist Party.

On these questions, Republicans are conflicted: 38% favor lifting the embargo, 38% do not. 38% of Republicans would favor allowing Americans to send money directly to Cuban citizens, 37% oppose that.

Public openness to increased contact with Cuba does not mean that Americans think Cuba is a friend of the United States. In fact, 59% see the country as either unfriendly towards the United States --- or as an enemy.

However, Americans feel differently about the people of Cuba. By a margin of 43% to 31%, Americans believe the PEOPLE of Cuba have favorable opinions about the United States.

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