Poll: Voters In ‘Heartland’ States Favor Lifting Cuban Embargo

A majority of voters in four states considered to be leaning Republican are in favor of abolishing restrictions in trade, travel, and investment in Cuba, including lifting the embargo against Cuba, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Atlantic Council.

Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa, located in the South and Midwest are considered to be more favorable to a Republican ticket for the November 2016, presidential election.

Although 70 percent of those polled in these states consider the U.S. to be on the ‘wrong track,’ 58 percent are in favor of entirely lifting the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.

Moreover, these "Heartland" voters - around 67 percent - want all travel restrictions to be lifted so Americans can travel as tourists to the island. The poll showed 68 percent of overall voters in the four states approve of diplomatic relations, which were reestablished in July with the opening of U.S. and Cuban embassies.

“You would be hard pressed to find any other Obama administration policy with this much Republican support,” said in a statement Peter Schecter, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Latin America Center.

On December 17, 2014 President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced they would normalize relations severed over 50 years ago. Obama has taken executive action to ease the embargo imposed in 1962, but only Congress has the power to completely remove it. Lawmakers in the Republican majority Congress have been resistant to such a move, including New Jersey Democratic U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, who is Cuban American. Two Republican presidential candidates of Cuban origin, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla) and Ted Cruz (Texas) oppose actions to improve relations with the island.

During recent meetings the Obama administration has pressed Cuba on human rights and political freedom for its citizens in order to persuade Congress for action.

In the U.S., industries related to agriculture can see an impact from trade with the island. Of those polled, 60 percent were convinced lifting the trade embargo would be beneficial to the agricultural industry.

“U.S. agriculture will benefit from a further opening in US-Cuba relations and that is central to the economies of states like Iowa and Indiana,” according to Jason Marczak, Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council’s Latin America Center.

A total of 600 likely voters were questioned for the survey, which was conducted between October 15 and 18 by Republican pollster Glen Bolger. It has an error margin of 4 percent.