Americans and Floridians Want to Give Trade with Cuba a Chance

June 12, 2015

Concurrent surveys by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute of U.S. and Florida residents found broad support for relaxing restrictions on trade between the United States and Cuba. In both geographic samples, the most popular opinion cited among respondents was that trade should be opened gradually and selectively, while the next most popular opinion was that trade should be opened swiftly and broadly.

The online poll was conducted between May 25 and 31. The national base of respondents was 1,022 adults, yielding a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The Florida poll was completed by 535 people, resulting in a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

The full question and responses were as follows:

Some businesses are interested in exploring more trade with Cuba, while some legislators oppose the idea of regular trade with the communist nation. American companies are allowed to sell food and medicine to Cuba. Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?

U.S. FL Possible responses
15% 16% The current trade restrictions should be left in place
39% 43% Trade should be opened gradually to selected goods and services, but not opened broadly
22% 20% Trade should be broadened quickly to include most or all goods and services
8% 9% Trade with Cuba at all is a bad idea and should be reversed
17% 12% Don’t know / not sure

The SLU Polling Institute also wanted to know what people think about Pope Francis and both recent and upcoming interactions regarding Cuba. The questions refer to a meeting at the Vatican on May 10 between the pope and Raul Castro (pictured), and a visit Pope Francis plans for September to Cuba, to be followed by a visit to the United States. People are even more favorable about those developments.

Pope Francis recently met with Cuban leader Raul Castro at the Vatican in Rome. Do you agree or disagree with Pope Francis’s decision to meet with Cuban leader Raul Castro?

U.S. FL Possible responses
25% 27% Strongly agree
35% 33% Somewhat agree
10% 11% Somewhat disagree
6% 10% Strongly disagree
25% 19% Don’t know / unsure

Pope Francis has also announced plans to visit Cuba and its people on his way to the United States later this year. Do you support or oppose Pope Francis’s decision to visit Cuba?

U.S. FL Possible responses
30% 29% Strongly support
35% 36% Somewhat support
9% 11% Somewhat oppose
5% 7 % Strongly oppose
21% 17% Don’t know / unsure

Michael Anthony Novak, PhD, assistant professor of theology at Saint Leo, said: “I couldn't help noticing that respondents felt a little more strongly in favor of Pope Francis traveling to Cuba than they did for his simply meeting with Raul Castro. That might suggest that people feel strongly about the power of papal ‘activism’ in visits to troubled locations. It was one of the most striking features of John Paul II's papacy that his presence helped Eastern Europe's transition from Communism. Pope Francis in Cuba—a Latin American pope in a Latin American country—could carry all the spiritual weight that John Paul II did in his native Poland.”

Many more questions and answers about U.S.-Cuban relations—including Floridians’ opinions of direct water travel to Cuba—may be found in the detailed survey results posted at

Photo credits: The map of Cuba is from from a U.S. satellite photo, and the photo of Pope Francis and Raul Castro is from the Vatican News Service.