Atlantic Council Poll Finds Bipartisan Support for Wider Cuba Opening

With presidential races heating up in key primary states, the Atlantic Council’s new US-Cuba poll of voters in America’s heartland finds majority support in both parties for further opening trade, travel, and investment with Cuba. Voters in Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa—though they largely consider the United States on the ‘wrong track’—strongly favor lifting trade and travel restrictions and endorse the reestablishment of diplomatic relations. Among the 70 percent of voters who do not approve of the country’s direction, 58 percent are in favor of President Obama’s new Cuba policies. The support in these states—important because of senior congressional delegations or weight in presidential politics—constitutes a major victory for the President’s executive actions over the last year.

View the new website dedicated to this poll to read the full results, watch a video on it, and learn more about launch events.

Highlights from the Atlantic Council’s heartland poll include:

  • Republicans’ View: Despite a negative view of Cuba, the majority of Republicans favor the restoration of diplomatic relations and lifting the travel ban.
  • Trade Embargo: 58 percent of heartland voters—a majority in all four states including 70 percent in Ohio—favor lifting the trade embargo entirely, with 60 percent convinced this would be beneficial to the agricultural industry.
  • Travel Restrictions: Nearly seven in ten Heartland voters (67 percent) want all travel restrictions to be lifted, including 66 percent of Independents and a majority of Republicans
  • Engagement – the Best Option: Over six in ten voters in each state—and 68 percent of overall Heartland poll respondents—agree that the United States did the right thing in re-establishing relations in July. This support came despite only a 30 percent favorability of Cuba.

Though sweeping changes to US-Cuba policy have been implemented by President Obama, the remaining restrictions on trade, investment, and travel lie mostly in the hands of Congress. A small group of elected officials have long lobbied in favor of keeping the embargo on Cuba, but support for lifting the sanctions has grown exponentially in the last twelve months with new bills targeted at lifting many of the remaining obstacles.