By Celine Castronuovo
About two-thirds of Cuban-American voters in Florida said they would not support policies by the Biden administration to return to a period of reengagement and normalization of relations with Havana, according to a new poll released Tuesday.
The study, conducted by management and consulting firm Bendixen & Amandi International, found that following former President Trump’s more hardline policies toward the island nation, 66 percent said that they do not think President Biden should revert to reengagement.
The finding marks a shift from the 51 percent in 2015 who supported then-President Obama’s commitment to normalizing relations with Cuba.
Additionally, while 56 percent of Cuban-American voters in Florida supported easing restrictions on travel between the U.S. and Cuba in 2015, the same percentage in Tuesday’s poll either somewhat or strongly opposed doing so.
Fernand Amandi, president of Bendixen & Amandi, told Politico Tuesday that the survey’s findings show a “Back to the Future” moment for the largest Latino voting bloc in Florida, with positions now similar to
hardline views they held in the 1980s and 1990s.
“We see the Cuban-American electorate has recalibrated and defaulted back to the hardline positions,” Amandi said.
Cuban-American voters in the Sunshine State became more favorable to open relations with the country under Obama, who removed Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list and lifted trade and travel
restrictions on the country.
However, the Trump administration’s return to these restrictions, as well as his campaign’s continued engagement with Cuban-American voters in the state, have helped fuel a return to more hardline views toward Havana.
The Trump administration in its final days added Cuba back to the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list, and on Friday, GOP Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Rick Scott (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) proposed a bill that would bar Biden or Secretary of State Antony Blinken from removing the designation.
Under the legislation, the U.S. cannot remove Cuba from the list until the Caribbean nation releases political prisoners and holds democratic elections.
However, Florida International University professor Guillermo Grenier told The Hill in January that throughout the next few years, hardline views could once again soften as they did under the Obama
“The hard-line has made a comeback, but there are plenty of soft spots in the hard-line, such as travel, consular services, remittances,” he said at the time. “So, I do think if Biden changes the rules, we will
see further changes among Cuban voters.”
Tuesday’s survey, conducted from March 8 to March 11, reported a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
By Celine Castronuovo