WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly three-fourths of Americans think the United States should have diplomatic ties with Cuba, but they’re not sure how far to go in lifting sanctions, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released Monday as full diplomatic relations between the two countries were formally restored.
“Relations between Cuba and the U.S. I think are long overdue. There’s no threat there,” said Alex Bega, 30, of Los Angeles. “I think the sanctions we have on them are pretty much obsolete.”
The resumption of normal ties ended decades of acrimony between the two nations that was hardened when President John F. Kennedy and Cuba’s Fidel Castro fought over Soviet expansion in the Americas. The new diplomatic status, however, does not erase lingering disputes, such as mutual claims for economic reparations, Havana’s desire to end a more than 50-year-old trade embargo and the U.S. push for Cuba to improve human rights and democracy.
The new poll also found that 58 percent of Americans approve of President Barack Obama’s handling of the U.S. relationship with Havana while 40 disapprove. By contrast, only 39 percent approve of his handling of the U.S. role in world affairs more generally, while 59 percent disapprove.
“I just disapprove of his politics in general,” said Julie Smith, 40, a university administrator from Bowling Green, Kentucky. “I just don’t think that us trying to improve relations with Cuba is beneficial to the United States.”
Respondents were split on what to do about the sanctions on Cuba. Forty-eight percent thought they should be decreased or eliminated entirely while 47 percent favored keeping them at their current level or increasing them. Five percent didn’t answer.
The story was different when it came to Iran.
Seventy-seven percent said they thought sanctions on Tehran should be kept where they are or increased, according to the poll, which was conducted just days before the U.S. signed an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for economic sanctions relief. Under the agreement, Iran’s nuclear program will be curbed for a decade in exchange for potentially hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of relief from international sanctions.
Mary Barry, 57, of Arlington, Texas, is happy that the Obama administration opened diplomatic efforts with both Cuba and Iran, but is wary about lifting sanctions on the two countries.
“I think we need to have diplomatic relations with Iran and monitor their nuclear weapon,” said Berry, who works producing and staging corporate business meetings. But, she said: “I think we need to keep the sanctions in place on Iran to make sure they’re doing what they’ve promised they’re going to do because I think Iran is a country that you can’t really trust.”
On Cuba, she thinks it’s “just time” to restore diplomatic relations. But she favors a gradual lifting of sanctions on Cuba. “I don’t think they should be lifted immediately,” she said.
There is some momentum in Congress, however, to lift the trade embargo.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., backs a bipartisan bill in the Senate to lift the embargo, which she said must be done for the U.S. to avoid losing investment opportunities that will come with loosening of travel restrictions to the island.
“Once millions of American tourists are going, they will need places to stay and they will need food to eat. … So when they come, they are going to be starting to sleep in Spanish hotels and eat German foods because those countries will be able to supply what they need in the tourism industry, not to mention the computers and Wi-Fi and everything else,” Klobuchar said in an interview.
She predicted the legislation, which has 20 co-sponsors so far, would pass, although maybe not this year. “I know there are some people who have long been opposed to this,” she said.
Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey thinks the Obama administration’s work to restore relations is an attempt to validate the Castro regime’s “brutal behavior.”
“I remain deeply concerned with ongoing human rights violations in Cuba,” Menendez said Monday. “There have been over 2,800 political arrests on the island this year alone.”
The AP-GfK Poll of 1,004 adults was conducted online July 9 to July 13, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.
AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com
NEW YORK (AP) — The Supreme Court’s ruling last month legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide has left Americans sharply divided, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that suggests support for gay unions may be down slightly from earlier this year.
The poll also found a near-even split over whether local officials with religious objections should be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, with 47 percent saying that should be the case and 49 percent say they should be exempt.
Overall, if there’s a conflict, a majority of those questioned think religious liberties should win out over gay rights, according to the poll. While 39 percent said it’s more important for the government to protect gay rights, 56 percent said protection of religious liberties should take precedence.
The poll was conducted July 9 to July 13, less than three weeks after the Supreme Court ruled states cannot ban same-sex marriage.
According to the poll, 42 percent support same-sex marriage and 40 percent oppose it. The percentage saying they favor legal same-sex marriage in their state was down slightly from the 48 percent who said so in an April poll. In January, 44 percent were in favor.
Asked specifically about the Supreme Court ruling, 39 percent said they approve and 41 percent said they disapprove.
“What the Supreme Court did is jeopardize our religious freedoms,” said Michael Boehm, 61, an industrial controls engineer from the Detroit area who describes himself as a conservative-leaning independent.
“You’re going to see a conflict between civil law and people who want to live their lives according to their faiths,” Boehm said.
Boehm was among 59 percent of the poll respondents who said wedding-related businesses with religious objections should be allowed to refuse service to gay and lesbian couples. That compares with 52 percent in April.
Also, 46 percent said businesses more generally should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples, while 51 percent said that should not be allowed.
Claudette Girouard, 69, a retiree from Chesterfield Township, Michigan, said she is a moderate independent voter who has gradually become supportive of letting same-sex couples marry.
“I don’t see what the big hoopla is,” she said. “If they’re happy, why not?”
Girouard said local officials should be required to perform same-sex marriages, but does not think that wedding-related businesses should be forced to serve same-sex couples.
“If the official doesn’t like what he’s being asked to do, then quit,” she said. “But businesses are kind of independent, so if they have a strong belief against it, there are enough other businesses out there for someone to use.”
The poll found pronounced differences in viewpoints depending on political affiliation.
For example, 65 percent of Democrats, but only 22 percent of Republicans favored allowing same-sex couples to legally marry in their state. And 72 percent of Republicans but just 31 percent of Democrats said local officials with religious objections should be exempt from issuing marriage licenses.
By a 64-32 margin, most Democrats said it’s more important to protect gay rights than religious liberties when the two are in conflict. Republicans said the opposite, by 82-17.
Clarence Wells, 60, a conservative from Rockwood, Tennessee, said he strongly disapproved of the Supreme Court’s ruling. He anticipates friction as gay couples try to exercise their newfound rights and people with religious objections to same-sex marriage balk at accepting them.
“I don’t believe it’s going to go over smoothly,” said Wells. “I think a lot of them will be shunned in church. … I think there will businesses that are going to close, because some people are stubborn enough to not want to deal with it.”
Andrew Chan, 41, a moderate independent from Seattle, said he has tried to remain neutral on same-sex marriage.
“For me, it’s always been about tolerating,” said Chan, who works for a nonprofit organization. “I’ve got friends on both sides.”
Chan said he was happy for gays and lesbians who have found someone they want to marry, and he expressed some wariness toward politicians who might try to roll back the Supreme Court ruling.
“That just creates more division,” he said. “Are we looking to move the country forward or move it backward?”
The AP-GfK Poll of 1,004 adults was conducted online July 9 to July 13, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Some questions were ask of half samples of respondents and have smaller margins of error. Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.
Swanson reported from Washington.
AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com
WASHINGTON (AP) — Even as the public remains closely divided about his presidency, Barack Obama is holding on to his support from the so-called “Obama coalition” of minorities, liberals and young Americans, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows, creating an incentive for the next Democratic presidential nominee to stick with him and his policies.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, by comparison, is viewed somewhat less favorably by the key voting groups whose record-setting turnout in 2008 propelled Obama to the White House and will be crucial to her own success.
Roughly two-thirds of Hispanics view Obama favorably, compared to just over half of Hispanics who say the same about Clinton. Among self-identified liberals, Obama’s favorability stands at 87 percent, to Clinton’s 72 percent. Half of Americans under the age of 30 view Obama favorably, compared to just 38 percent for his former secretary of state.
The findings offer a window into the factors at play as Clinton decides how closely to embrace Obama, his record and his policies in her campaign for president. Although associating herself with Obama could turn off some independent and Republican-leaning voters, electoral math and changing demographics make it critical for Democrats to turn out high numbers of Hispanics, African Americans and young voters.
Overall, Obama’s job approval rating stands at 43 percent, a leveling off following an AP-GfK poll conducted in early February that put his approval at 47 percent — slightly higher than it had been through most of 2014. The number of Americans who disapprove of Obama’s job performance has stayed relatively steady at 55 percent.
“He just seems to have something in his mind that he wants to accomplish and keeps trying to get it done,” said Christine Klauder, a self-described liberal from southern New Jersey. Klauder said she voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and that her support hasn’t dropped off. “He’s more oriented toward the kind of people that I feel that we are, have been all my life.”
Contrast that with Klauder’s views about Clinton, who has yet to win her enthusiastic support. “Being a woman, I think it would be wonderful to see her in — but I’m not sure,” Klauder said. “I think maybe her time has passed.”
Obama, whose troubles in the polls were seen as a drag on Democratic in last year’s midterm elections, has also managed to hold on to recent gains he’s made among core supporters.
When AP-GfK polled in October 2014, Obama’s approval rating among Hispanics had plummeted to 39 percent, as Hispanic advocacy groups demanded that Obama take aggressive action on immigration. One month later, he did just that — and his job approval among Hispanics now stands at 56 percent. Whereas 72 percent of liberals approved of Obama’s performance in October, that number now appears to have climbed, to 82 percent.
The survey reinforces a concern expressed by many Democrats about Clinton’s candidacy: that she just doesn’t inspire the levels of enthusiasm among traditional Democratic constituencies that were so critical to Obama’s success.
In the first weeks of her campaign, Clinton has promoted a number of populist ideas surrounding immigration, voting rights and economics that hew closely to themes that Obama has made central to his presidency. Although she distanced herself from Obama by suggesting she would have voted against giving him expedited authority to negotiate trade deals, she offered explicit support for the controversial nuclear deal with Iran that Obama announced this week.
Esther Danner, a 61-year-old from Hanover, Maryland, said she’s continued to support Obama because she feels he’s made progress on overhauling health care, promoting same-sex marriage and lifting the ban on gays in the military. Danner, who works part time at an African American heritage museum, said she thought Obama’s full-throated support would go a long way to persuade minorities and young Americans to show up to vote for the next Democratic nominee.
“The last eight years have been preparing for the 2016 election,” Danner said. “The current generation that voted for Obama, like myself, will probably continue the journey with the next Democratic candidate.”
In an AP-GfK poll conducted in January and February, nearly half of Americans — 47 percent — described the economy as “good,” almost as many as the 51 percent who called it “poor.” Since then, views of the economy have grown slightly more negative, with 41 percent now saying the economy is “good” and 57 percent saying it’s “poor.”
The AP-GfK Poll of 1,004 adults was conducted online from Thursday to Monday, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points, but higher for subgroups such as Hispanics and African Americans.
Associated Press writer Stacy A. Anderson contributed to this report.
The survey offers a series of warning signs for the leading Democratic candidate. Most troubling, perhaps, for her prospects are questions about her compassion for average Americans, a quality that fueled President Barack Obama’s two White House victories.
Just 39 percent of all Americans have a favorable view of Clinton, compared to nearly half who say they have a negative opinion of her. That’s an eight-point increase in her unfavorable rating from an AP-GfK poll conducted at the end of April.
The drop in Clinton’s numbers extends into the Democratic Party. Seven in 10 Democrats gave Clinton positive marks, an 11-point drop from the April survey. Nearly a quarter of Democrats now say they see Clinton in an unfavorable light.
“I used to like her, but I don’t trust her,” said Donald Walters of Louisville, Kentucky. “Ever since she’s announced her candidacy for the presidency I just haven’t liked the way she’s handled things. She doesn’t answer questions directly.”
While Clinton’s approval rating fell, Obama’s stayed constant at 46 percent since April. More than 8 in 10 Democrats have a positive view of the president.
At least part of Clinton’s decline may be due to questions about her character, a topic Republicans have been trying to make central to the 2016 campaign. In ads, stump speeches and online videos, they paint her as a creature of Washington who flouts the rules to get ahead.
While Clinton has spent decades in the public eye, she’s focused in recent months on creating a more relatable — and empathetic — image. In public events, she frequently talks about her new granddaughter, Charlotte, and references her early career as a legal advocate for impoverished children.
The survey suggests that voters aren’t sold on her reinvention: Only 4 in 10 voters say they view Clinton as “compassionate.” Just 3 in 10 said the word “honest” described her either very or somewhat well.
Stephanie Bergholdo, a Democratic voter from Oak Park, California, says she finds Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren far more sincere in their liberal views — though she’s likely to vote for Clinton should she become the party’s nominee.
“She’s piggybacking on some of the things they’ve been talking about,” said Bergholdo. “I don’t think she comes across very genuine. She just seems a little stiff to me.”
The percentage of respondents calling Clinton at least somewhat inspiring also slipped from 44 percent to 37 percent.
Even the number of voters saying Clinton is at least somewhat decisive, previously a strong point for the former New York senator, fell from 56 percent in April to 47 percent in the new poll.
“She’s pretty much a run-of-the-mill Democrat,” said Mark Oldenburg of Madison, Wisconsin. “I don’t know that there’s anything particularly special about her.”
Other polls released this week show contrasting results. A Washington Post-ABC News survey found an uptick in Clinton’s favorability, while a Suffolk University-USA Today poll showed a slightly net negative rating.
That means the downturn for Clinton could be a result of random differences in survey sampling or a troubling trend for the dominant Democratic candidate, underscoring the undefined nature of the crowded early presidential campaign.
Democrats argue that a drop in her numbers is a predictable result of Clinton’s return to the partisan fray after years in the less overtly political position of secretary of state. Republicans, meanwhile, attribute the drop to questions about the financial dealings of Clinton’s family foundation and her use of an email account run from a server kept at her New York home while serving as secretary of state.
Clinton’s bad marks weren’t unique: Nearly all of the Republican candidates surveyed in the poll shared her underwater approval ratings. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a leading GOP candidate, saw his unfavorable ratings rise to 44 percent from 36 percent in April.
The AP-GfK Poll of 1,004 adults was conducted online Thursday to Monday, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access with no cost to them.
AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com