Poll: Americans Divided on Normalizing Relations with Cuba

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As former President Jimmy Carter visits Cuba and calls for an end to the U.S. embargo, a FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll shows that Americans are divided about normalizing relations with that country.

The national poll asked registered voters if the United States should end its embargo and move toward normal diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba. Just over 4 in 10 Americans (44 percent) said the U.S. should normalize relations, while almost the same number (41 percent) said the embargo should continue (15 percent had no opinion).

There is more support among Americans on the specific issue of ending travel restrictions. A majority (63 percent) agrees with Carter that the U.S. should allow citizens to travel freely to Cuba; only 26 percent oppose such a measure. Even so, the Caribbean island may need to do some marketing. If citizens were allowed to visit Cuba, less than one-quarter of Americans say they would be interested in going.

"It's less about what we want for Cuba’s future than about the best way to try and get there," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "On the one hand, many people oppose giving any comfort to the last Communist dictator; on the other hand, trade and closer relations may be a way to speed change in Cuba. Americans aren’t sure which path is best, which leads to the similar numbers on each side of the debate."

Former President Carter receives positive marks from the public on his trip. More than three times as many Americans think Carter traveled to Cuba to improve human rights (64 percent) as think the purpose was to raise his profile (20 percent). In addition, more Americans think Carter is helping the U.S. more by visiting Cuba than by staying home and working on his Habitat for Humanity home-building project.

Most Americans have a favorable opinion of Carter overall. In fact, Carter's favorable rating (73 percent) rivals that of current President George Bush (77 percent).

Cuban President Fidel Castro's ratings are just the opposite with an unfavorable rating of 74 percent and a favorable rating of 8 percent.

Polling was conducted by telephone May 14-15, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

1. I'm going to read the names of some people. Please tell me whether you have a generally favorable or unfavorable opinion of each. If you've never heard of someone, please just say so.

2. For decades America has not allowed trade with Cuba or any investment in Cuba's economy. Do you think it's time for the United States to end its embargo and move toward normal diplomatic and trade relations, or do you think continued embargo is the best way to treat Cuba?

3. Would you favor or oppose allowing U.S. citizens to travel freely to Cuba?

4. If U.S. citizens were allowed to travel to Cuba, how interested would you be in traveling there?

5. Former President Carter has been traveling in Cuba. Do you think Carter is trying to improve human rights in Cuba or is he trying to raise his own profile?