Cuban Research Institute

Institute for Public Opinion Research
School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Center for Labor Research and Studies

Florida International University

All question texts, references results from data, and other information on this site (c) 2000 Florida International University

Preliminary results, FIU/Cuba Poll -- DO NOT REPORT until 10:45 am edt Thursday October 19, 2000


This years marks the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the FIU Cuba Poll.  Five times since 1991 FIU researchers from the Center for Labor Research and Studies, the Institute of Public Opinion Research and the Cuban Research Institute have develop a detailed methodology for measuring the political attitudes of the Cuban-American community in Miami-Dade County.  The poll is specifically designed to measure the attitudes of the Cuban-American community towards US/Cuba policy and how these attitudes have an impact on Greater Miami. This year, thanks to the funding by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation and the university’s Office of the President., the poll was expanded to include a local, non-Cuban sample as well as a national sample.

The first Cuba Poll was conducted 10 years ago, in March of 1991. Subsequent polls were conducted in October of 1991, in June of 1993 and March of 1995 and July of 1997. As in the four previous polls, the researchers this year found a diversity of opinions on what policies would facilitate political changes on the island. The consistency of some of the responses, as well as the shift in others, present us with the most complete picture to date of the Cuban-American political attitudes towards Cuba. While most of the responses were consistent with the previous surveys, no poll is without surprises.  Some long standing attitudes seem to have changed, while some new events have generated diverse responses from Cuban-Americans as well as the non-Cubans and national communities.  Of particular interest in this poll was to take the pulse of the Greater Miami region six months after the Elian Gonzalez controversy. This brief summary presents selected findings from the 2000 Cuba Poll.

General Findings

The Cuban American residents of Miami-Dade County are generally concerned about the lack of change on the island but they are far from monolithic in their support for different policies. There are major differences of opinion and a number of these vary systematically across different groups in the community.

·       There appears to be an increasing frustration about the lack of political change occurring on the island and the growing realization that desired changes are not likely to occur anytime soon. Only 10.3% of the Cuban-American respondents feel that changes will occur within one year. (9.1% local non-Cuban and 3.5% National). An additional 33.3% percent anticipate that major changes are more than one year but less than five years away.  (37.5% local non-Cuban and 35.3% National)  At the same time,  28.2% stated that change would never come to the island (17.9% local non-Cuban, 12.1% National.)

·       Over fifty one percent  of the Cuban respondents signal that they would support a dialogue with the Cuban government. In the context of the other responses, this desire can be interpreted as signifying that among some within the Cuban-American community in Miami-Dade County, a dialogue is seen as an agent of positive change. ( 78.6% local non-Cuban and 80.2 National)

·       Although only 25.8% feel that the embargo has worked well, (16.9% local non-Cuban and 34.2% National)  the Cuban American population expressed strong support for its continuation 64.2%. (39.1% local non-Cuban and 42.6% national).   

·       When asked about the specific restrictions imposed by the embargo, the respondents show a somewhat more moderate side.  Approximately over 48% of the respondents support the prohibition on U.S. companies from doing business in Cuba. (38.2% local non-Cuban and 34.8% National).  At the same time, approximately 66% would favor allowing companies to sell medicine to the people on the island.  (88.4% local non-Cuban and 89.8% National)  and 56% would favor the sale of food (83% local non-Cuban, 86.3% National.)

·       Echoing the results of the other surveys, the Cuban-American community is willing to lend support to human rights groups working inside Cuba.  Over 94.5% of respondents support lending a hand to such groups. (92.4% local non-Cuban and 83.5% National)

·       There continues to be support for military action by exile groups 69.6% (45.3% local non-Cuban and 21.8% National)  as well as  a U.S. invasion of the island 61%.  ( 39.9% local non-Cuban and 17.9% National)

·       A large majority 78.9% feels that all points of view on how to deal with Castro are not being heard in Miami.  (67.5% local non-Cuban).  Cubans feel that the opinions supporting stronger opposition are not being heard (48%) whereas a similar number of non-Cubans in the area believe that the views supporting more open relations are not being heard (45%).

·       Nearly 80.5% of the respondents feel that the number of visas currently being given to Cubans on the island to come to the United States to live is appropriate. (52.8% local non-Cuban and 54.9% National)

·       Approximately 54% of Cuban-Americans believe that Cubans leave the island primarily to seek political freedom while 26% think that the motivations are primarily economic in nature.  About 39% of the non-Cuban locals believe that lack of freedom drives the exodus while 42% point to economic issues.  Falling in between these two groups are the national respondents, 33% of whom respondents highlight economic reasons while 45% say that lack of freedom drives those fleeing.

·       A large majority of respondents 77.9% report that a political candidate's position on Cuba is important in determining their vote. (62.3% local non-Cuban and 46.6% National)

·       22.6% percent would be very likely and 17.5% somewhat likely to return to live on the island if the country's government changed to a democratic form.



Few events in the long history of the Cuban-Americans in the United States have mobilized the community as did the plight of Elian Gonzalez.  While this and other studies of the Cuban-American community show that there is a broad diversity within the population on most issues, seldom has the community behaved as monolithically as it did in its attempt to influence the outcome of the Elian case. The numbers clearly show the different perspectives held by the local non-Cuban community as well as the national sample.

·       78.5 % of Cuban-Americans believed that Elian should have stayed in the United States. This opinion was held by only 33.6% of local non-Cubans and 28.3% of national respondents.

·       Over 62% of the Cuban-Americans felt that the local media presented the issues in the Elian case in a fair and objective manner while 53% of non-Cubans held this opinion.  The difference among the samples is greater when the question deals with the national coverage of the Elian case.  Only 40% of Cubans felt that the national media covered the case fairly and objectively while 65% of local non-Cubans and 51% of national respondents had a positive view of media coverage.

·       When asked whether the interests of the Cuban-American community were helped or hurt by the Elian affair, all samples agreed with overwhelming certitude that the case had hurt the Cuban-American community.  (Cubans: 82%, Local non-Cubans 80.4%, National 84.6%).

·       On the theme of ethnic relations, most Cubans and local non-Cubans felt that relations between the ethnic groups after the Elian affair were about the same as they were before Elian came and went.   Nearly 60% of Cubans and 54 % of local non-Cubans felt that  relations had not changed. While 31% of Cubans and 37% of non-Cubans felt that they had worsen.




As always, the poll serves to support or debunk many of the views held about the Cuban-American community.  There were no surprises associated with the electoral preferences of the community.  About 72.8% percent of the respondents are U.S. citizens. Of these, 90.2 percent report being registered to vote. And of these, 67.1 percent are registered in the Republican Party, 17.2 percent are registered Democrats and 14.1 percent are Independents.

·       In the upcoming Presidential election, 64 percent are expecting to vote for George W. Bush and 15 percent will cast their ballot for Al Gore.  This signals another division with the local non-Cuban population which indicated a significant support for Gore (49% to 21% for Bush.)  The national sample was fairly evenly divided, with 36% favoring Gore and 28% leaning towards Bush, but with an impressive 30% declaring themselves to be undecided.

·       While  most Cubans believe that the next president of Cuba should be someone currently living on the island (48%) as opposed to someone now living in exile (27%), a large percentage feel that some local politicians will play a major role in Cuba when a transition occurs (65%).  Most of the respondents felt that Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart would be the local politician to play the most significant role in Cuba’s future (42%).

·       Contradicting the popular view of a monolithically intolerant community, most Cubans (54.7%) disagreed with the idea that musical groups that come from Cuba, such as Los Van Van, should not be allowed to perform in Miami.  While this number is much lower than the 85% of the local non-Cuban sample that reject this policy of exclusion, it is still a surprisingly high number.  Similarly, 52% of Cubans disagreed with the recently repealed County ordinance which prevented the use of County funds to be used for events that include artists from Cuba. An overwhelming 75.5% of non-Cubans disagreed with the now defunct policy.



From September 20 to October 17, 1,975 people were interviewed about their support of policies toward Cuba.  Three samples were interviewed: a sample of 1,975 Miami-Dade County residents of Cuban descent, 400 non-Cuban residents of the same county, and a national of 400 U.S. residents.

Each was a random sample generated from telephone exchanges using standard random-digit-dialing procedures that ensure that each residential phone has an equal chance of being chosen for the sample. Bilingual (Spanish/English) interviewers conducted the interviews from IPOR'S telephone lab at the North Campus of Florida International University. The margin of error for the Cuban sample of 1,975 is +/- 3% at the 95% confidence level.  The margin of error for the two other samples is +/- 5%.

About half of the Cuban sample were people who came to the United States from Cuba before 1975. 14% (227)  arrived in the years 1959-1964.  Results for this group have a margin of error of +/- 7%.  Other groups by years arrived in the US are: 278 in 1965-1974 (+/- 6%), 167 in 1975-1984 (+/- 8%), and 239 arrived after 1984 (+/- 6%).  150 respondents were born in the U.S. (+/- 8%).  These margins of error are precise enough to make many of the differences in opinion between these groups statistically significant.



Dr. Guillermo J. Grenier is Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology and Director of the Center for Labor Research and Studies at Florida International University. Dr. Hugh Gladwin is Director of the Institute for Public Opinion Research (IPOR) at FIU and Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology. .