Thursday, May 12, 2016

How rejecting Obama's Cuba policy is good for America and GOP prospects in Florida

Anti-communism is still a key factor in the Cuban-American Republican vote 

Young Cuban Americans picketed Clinton & protested Cuban embassy opening (2015)
Cuban-Americans have been a reliable Republican voting block since at least 1980 with Ronald Reagan. This has been due to the GOP's consistent anti-communist stand on the Castro regime in Cuba.  Nevertheless, there has been an attempt over the decades to claim that younger Cubans are shifting and voting Democrat while at the same time softening their "hard-line" (read pro-democracy) stand on Cuba.

This is a dangerous lie for aspiring politicians whose policy positions are driven by dodgy polls. The political graveyard is littered with those who bought into that lie. Even pollsters that try to shape questions to favor the Obama Cuba policy in rigged polls cannot engineer majority support from Cuban American voters.

The latest victim was Charlie Crist in 2014 who lost a narrowly to unpopular Florida governor Rick Scott. This was because the forces advocating for the end of economic sanctions on the Castro dictatorship produced push polls that convinced candidate Charlie Crist in his run for governor of Florida to support ending the embargo and announce that he planned to go to Cuba. As reality hit and his numbers dropped the trip was put off but in the end Crist lost despite running against the unpopular incumbent Rick Scott in a tight race because of the Cuban vote.

In the Republican primary in Florida the two candidates loudly rejecting the Obama administration's Cuba policy got 75% of the Cuban-American vote to Donald Trump's 18%. Cuban American voters have rejected the Obama administration's failed Cuba policy.

Donald Trump's candidacy poses a threat to continued Cuban-American support for the Republican Party, and despite conventional wisdom, it is not due to his anti-immigration stand. Both Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz tried to out trump Trump on being tough on immigration and together got 75% of the Cuban vote to Trump's 18%. Current polls in Miami-Dade place Trump ahead of Clinton among Cuban Americans by 37% to 31% which is extremely low compared to previous elections. This is also part of the reason that Clinton is ahead in South Florida by 27 points. If Trump's Cuba policy contrasted with Clinton's support of Obama's Cuba policy he would likely expand that lead among Cuban Americans to 56% to 31%. This is based on data from Scott vs Crist in 2014 where the pro-engagement issue got 5% who would vote on it versus 24% who would not vote for a candidate who supported engagement with the Castro regime. This could make a different in narrowing Clinton's lead in Miami-Dade and could tip the balance for the GOP candidate.

This is because Donald Trump has publicly declared that he supports Obama's disastrous Cuba policy which is extremely unpopular with Cuban-Americans, and especially the vast majority of those who are Republicans.  Unfortunately, a small cohort of wealthy Cuban-American businessmen who do not represent the majority are peddling a different message that will hurt Mr. Trump's prospects in Florida.

Young Cubans protesting U.S. Embassy opening in Cuba
This ignores that over the past year young 20 something Cuban-Americans picketed Hillary Clinton at Florida International University protesting her support for Obama's Cuba policy, and took to the streets to protest the opening of the United States Embassy in Cuba. This also ignores that in mid-April 2016 hundreds of Cuban Americans poured into the Miami Beach City Hall to reject efforts to bring a Cuban Consulate there.

However, there are more important considerations than electoral ones, such as is this new Cuba policy good for America?

How is it good for Americans to have trade with Cuba drop from $711.5 million in 2008 under the Bush administration with sanctions that protected U.S. taxpayers from picking up the tab to 2015 under the Obama administration when trade dropped to $180.3 million in 2015 and in January 2016 opened up financing for the notorious deadbeat nation?

Under the old policy, which Donald Trump and President Obama both agreed it was time to abandon, American companies made over $5.2 billion while other countries had to forgive billions in debts owed to them by the regime in Cuba. This means that taxpayers in those countries end up picking the tab. If Obama/Hillary/Trump succeed in ending the embargo then the trade in goods with Cuba will descend into negative territory with businesses not getting paid by the Castro regime and manufacturing jobs shipped to Cuba. (Businesses will get their money back through taxpayer bailouts.)

At the same time the Castro regime got a hold of a U.S. Hellfire missile in 2014 and refused to return it to the United States for almost two years turning the U.S. into a laughing stock internationally and raising ominous questions about U.S. national security.
How is this good for America?

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