New poll shows Cuban-American voters align with GOP

During Barack Obama’s presidency, studies, exit polls and voting patterns indicated that the exiled community’s hardline positions about Cuba had begun to soften, prompting Obama to make a historic visit to the island in early 2016 — a move that brought a torrent of criticism from Florida Republicans including then-Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio.

But now 66 percent of those polled by Bendixen & Amandi International opposed reverting back to Obama policies toward Cuba. In a poll done by the same group in 2015, 51 percent backed the former president’s effort. The new poll also showed a major shift in support for keeping the decades-old trade embargo against Cuba. Six years ago, only 36 percent favored retaining the embargo. Now 66 percent say they favor keeping it in place. The poll also found a majority — 56 percent — oppose easing travel restrictions.

“We see the Cuban-American electorate has recalibrated and defaulted back to the hardline positions,” said Fernand Amandi, president of Bendixen & Amandi, who called it a “Back to the Future” moment for Cuban-Americans where their positions are similar to the ones they held in the 1980s and 1990s.