According to a recent Gallup Survey, 54% of Americans now view Cuba “in a favorable light,” up 33 percentage points since 2006 and a whopping 44% since 1996, when Gallup first started measuring sentiment.
Gallup’s Jim Norman comments, “a majority of the American public, which for decades has viewed Cuba in a decidedly negative light, sees the country favorably for the first time in Gallup polling history.”
There is no doubt that the recent increase in positive sentiment is due, in large measure, to the work President Obama has done over the past two years to normalize diplomatic relations with the communist country, which were severed after the revolution in 1961. Formal diplomatic ties were restored last year when the U.S. re-opened its embassy in Cuba.
During the past year the American public has watched on as Pope Francis visited the Island nation (twice), countless high-profile celebrities have traveled to its shores, and the first reality TV show in history (Cuban Chrome) was broadcast weekly into American homes. It is no wonder that public sentiment is on the rise. And with travel restrictions that have been in place for over a half a century now relaxed, the U.S. has now paved the way for more Americans to visit Cuba than ever before.
Not surprisingly, Cuba’s favorability rating differs sharply along party lines. While only a minority of Republicans view Cuba favorably (34%), 73% of Democrats and 53% of Independents have positive views of Cuba.
No doubt, the topic of Cuba will play a prominent role in the upcoming presidential election – especially with two Republican candidates having Cuban backgrounds – Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.