The restoration of diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba seems to sit well with Americans.
An Associated Press-GfK poll found the vast majority of respondents favor the move. The poll was conducted before the reopening of the countries’ embassies on Monday but after they announced that would happen.
Five things to know about U.S. public opinion on Cuba:
LARGE MAJORITY FAVORS NEW TIES
Seven in 10 Americans said the United States should have a diplomatic relationship with Cuba, the AP-GfK poll finds. Support for ties with Cuba is much higher than for ties with some other states without diplomatic recognition from the United States – 51 percent said the U.S. should have a diplomatic relationship with Iran, 41 percent with North Korea. The poll was conducted before the nuclear deal with Iran was reached last week.
More than 8 in 10 Democrats, along with 6 in 10 Republicans and 6 in 10 independents, support re-establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba.
STILL UNFRIENDLY, NOT AN ENEMY
Sixty percent of Americans still think Cuba is at least unfriendly toward the United States, but just 15 percent said it’s an enemy. Most Americans consider Iran and North Korea to be an enemy; a third say the same of Russia.
Democrats are about equally split on whether Cuba is friendly to the U.S. while three quarters of Republicans say it’s unfriendly or even an enemy.
Among Americans who consider Cuba an enemy, just 31 percent favor a diplomatic relationship.
MANY WANT SANCTIONS REDUCTIONS
A combined 48 percent of Americans in the new poll say the United States should either reduce economic sanctions against Cuba (29 percent) or eliminate them (19 percent). On the other side, 47 percent think they should be kept at their current level (38 percent) or increased (9 percent).
A majority of Democrats say sanctions should be reduced or eliminated, while a majority of Republicans think they should be maintained or increased.
MOST APPROVE OF OBAMA’S HANDLING
According to the new poll, 58 percent of Americans approve and 40 percent disapprove of President Barack Obama’s handling of the U.S. relationship with Cuba. By contrast, only 39 percent approve of his handling of world affairs more generally, while 59 percent disapprove.
DIPLOMACY SEEN AS MOST EFFECTIVE
In general, Americans consider diplomatic engagement to be more effective than punishment when dealing with unfriendly countries. Six in 10 picked diplomacy, 4 in 10 said punishment.
More than three-quarters of Democrats opted for engagement; a slim majority of Republicans chose punishment.
The AP-GfK Poll of 1,004 adults was conducted online from July 9 to July 13, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.