EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Most Cuban American voters are sticking with the Republican Party, which may have implications in the battleground state of Florida, research by the Pew Hispanic Center suggests.

A Pew survey taken July 27-Aug. 2 found that 58% of Cuban American voters nationwide said they were affiliated with or leaning toward the GOP, while only 38% leaned toward the Democratic Party. By contrast, 65% of non-Cuban Hispanic voters nationwide identify or lean Democratic.

This, despite previous inroads made by the Democrats toward a bloc that traditionally has voted Republican. In 2013, the year Barack Obama began his second term in office, a similar survey found almost as many Cuban Americans identifying with the Democratic Party (44%) as favoring the Republicans (47%).

“Historically, Cuban Americans have backed the (GOP) in large numbers, but that support has at times softened as a new generation of U.S.-born, Democratic-leaning Cubans come of age,” stated a recent Pew article based on the survey.

In Florida, voters of Cuban origin make up 7.45% of Republican Party registered voters and 3.48% of the Democrats, according to another survey, the 2020 Florida International University’s 2020 Cuba Poll.

Chart by Florida International University

Cuban Americans have the highest rate of voter participation among Hispanics, with 58% saying they have voted, compared to only 44% of those who identify as of Mexican origin, according to Census Bureau data cited by the Pew.

The disparity of how Cuban Americans and Hispanics in general view the Republican Party may hinge on a few key issues.

Eighty-eight percent of Cubans surveyed by the Pew said the economy plays a very important role in who to vote for in 2020, compared to 80% of the general population. They are also far more concerned about violent crime (78% vs. 62% of the general population) and the importance of foreign policy (78% vs. 45% of the general population).

“Since taking office in 2017, Trump has imposed several sanctions on Cuba, including restrictions on trade, travel and remittances, reversing the Obama administration’s expansion of diplomatic and economic ties” with Cuba, the article states.

Trump finds strong support in South Florida

The latter findings are in line with another recent survey of Cuban Americans’ views.

FIU’s 2020 Cuba Poll found that 65% of 1,002 Cuban Americans in the Miami-Dade area “strongly support” President Trump’s handling of the economy, his policy toward Cuba (48%), his immigration policies (46%) and his health care policies (44%). By contrast, only 12% “strongly oppose” Trump’s economic policy, immigration policies (23%), Cuba policy (23%) and health care policy (23%).

Delving deeper into health and immigration, the FIU poll shows that 42% of the Cuban Americans surveyed “strongly approve” of Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis (only 25% strongly oppose them).

Cuban migrants making their way to El Paso, Texas from Juarez, Mexico. (AP file photo)

Likewise, 42% are “strongly opposed” to (vs. 34% that strongly support) renewing the “wet feet/dry feet” immigration policy that Obama ended in January 2017, days before leaving office. Under that policy, Cubans who sought entry into the United States – except those who arrived clandestinely in boats — could present themselves at ports of entry and petition permanent legal residence.

“There is an increase of support for the isolationists policies reinitiated by the Trump administration and for the continuation of the economic embargo,” state the authors in the conclusions of the 2020 Cuba Poll. “Trump is on track to receive approximately 60% of the Cuban American vote in November and his approval rating is high in handling of key national issues.”

FIU’s poll was conducted July 7-Aug. 17, 2020.

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