CBS News poll: Resuming relations with Cuba

By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto, and Fred Backus

As Cuba and the U.S. are about to officially resume diplomatic ties for the first time in 54 years, 58 percent of Americans favor re-establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries, while just 24 percent oppose. Seventy-two percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents support re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, while Republicans are divided, with 44 percent in favor.

Americans have long supported this move. When Gallup asked a version of this question back in 1977, 53 percent of Americans thought diplomatic relations with Cuba should be re-established.

Still, the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba remains in place, a situation which the Castro regime has warned will continue to be a barrier against full normalization of relations between the two countries. Fifty-four percent of Americans favor the United States government ending its trade embargo against Cuba, including most Republicans (52 percent) and Democrats (62 percent), and a plurality of independents (49 percent).

Evaluations of President Barack Obama's handling of relations with Cuba have improved since the rapprochement was first announced last December. Fifty percent of Americans now approve of his handling of U.S.-Cuba relations, up from 44 percent at the end of last year.

The Impact on Cuba

Overall, Americans are torn as to what the impact will be when the U.S. resumes diplomatic relations with Cuba. Thirty-seven percent think re-establishing relations with Cuba will lead to more democracy in that country, while 48 percent don't think it will make a difference. More Americans think such a move will strengthen the Castro regime (23 percent) rather than weaken it (15 percent), but half don't think there will be an impact either way.

Travel to Cuba

Despite the recent thaw in relations with Cuba, a travel ban for most Americans remains in effect. Eighty-one percent of Americans support allowing all Americans to travel to Cuba - including large majorities of Republicans (71 percent), Democrats (90 percent), and independents (80 percent).

When asked if they, personally, would like to visit Cuba if travel restrictions were lifted, 48 percent of Americans say they would, and 49 percent would not. Interest in visiting Cuba is up substantially from 1998, when CBS last asked the question; then, just 23 percent of Americans said they would like to visit Cuba if the travel ban were lifted.

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This poll was conducted by telephone July 10-14, 2015 among a random sample of 1,002 adults. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Media, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

7-15-15 topline: CBSNew Cuba poll by CBSNewsPolitics