Barack Obama is a pretty popular guy in Cuba these days. So much so that nearly nine out of 10 Cubans hope he'll be the first U.S. president to visit their island since Calvin Coolidge did in 1928.
A new Bendixen & Amandi Poll for Univision Noticias - Fusion in collaboration with The Washington Post shows that 89 percent of Cubans think the U.S. leader should swing by for a visit now that the two countries are trying to make nice. Obama also enjoys an 80 percent favorability rating on the communist-led island. The poll suggests that Obama is nearly twice as popular in Cuba as he is in the United States. Back home, where the U.S. president's favorability rating is around 47 percent — the same as President Castro's in Cuba.
According to the poll, an independent survey of 1,200 Cubans living across the island, 34 percent of Cubans have a "very positive" opinion of Obama, while 46 percent say they have a "somewhat positive" opinion of the U.S. president. That puts Obama's overall favorability rating well above that of Fidel Castro, whose "very positives" and "somewhat positives" add up to 44 percent. Cuban President Raul Castro's favorability rating is at 47 percent, nudging him slightly ahead of his older brother in the popularity category, according to the survey results.
The door-to-door poll, considered the most comprehensive and largest independent survey in Cuba in more than 50 years, was conducted by a team of local Cuban interviewers led by Miami-based research firm Bendixen & Amandi. The poll was carried out without the authorization of the Cuban government between March 17-27 in all 13 provinces of the island, including the capital city of Havana. The data offers a unique insight into public opinion on an island where reliable polling is notoriously difficult and where 75 percent of Cubans claim they have to be careful what they say in public. The opinion poll claims a margin of error of 2.8 percent, with a 95 percent confidence level. (For more on methodology, click here).
Overall, the poll suggests Cubans have a more favorable opinion of Obama than they do of the United States in general. Fifty-three percent of Cubans said they consider the United States a "friend of Cuba," compared with 93 percent who say Venezuela is Cuba's friend, 71 percent who identify Russia as a friend, and 74 percent who think Mexico is their pal. On the friend-of-Cuba scale, the U.S. polls ahead of just North Korea (43 percent), Syria (31 percent) and Iran (28 percent), although only a dozen countries were included on the survey.
But Cubans' opinions toward the United States are clearly complicated. The totality of the poll questions suggest that Cubans' views of the U.S. are nuanced and conflicted.
For example, of the 55 percent of Cubans who said they would like to "leave and go live in another country," more than half said they'd want to move to the United States — by far their number one choice for a place of resettlement. That's probably because many Cubans have strong familial and economic ties with the Cuban diaspora in the U.S.
Of the 33 percent of Cubans who said they have family members living abroad, 56 percent said most are living in the United States — many of whom are presumably sending money.
What's clear is that tidy friend-or-foe days of the cold war have since been replaced by something messier, modern and more honest.
For full poll results, click here.
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