National Security

Democrats Like Cuba More Than Israel, New Poll Shows

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A new poll indicates Democrats look more favorably upon Cuba than they do Israel.

According to a YouGov poll released Monday, 39 percent of Democratic-leaning respondents have a favorable opinion of Cuba, compared with a 36 percent favorability rating for Israel.

The poll data feature other notable results: China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea rank among the countries in the bottom 10 in overall favorability among respondents. Meanwhile, the poll’s respondents strongly favor long-term allies such as Australia and the United Kingdom.

Results of the poll correlate with many of the larger trends in American foreign policy. Some Democrats have come under fire during the 2020 campaign for their affinity and history with communist Cuba, such as former vice-presidential hopeful Rep. Karen Bass (D., Calif.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). 

Meanwhile, anti-Israel activism through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is promoted through the Democratic Party’s far left, as national figures such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) endorse many of the movement’s major talking points.

In contrast, Republicans have a long record of defending Israel and taking on its adversaries and competitors during the Trump administration. Under President Donald Trump, Washington moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and continues to work with Israeli leaders to forge new diplomatic ties with longstanding competitors in the Persian Gulf. 

The administration has also pushed a hard line on Iran, a major adversary of Israel, through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s "maximum pressure campaign," leaving Tehran’s economy in dire straits.

On China and Russia—countries that respondents of all political affiliations responded to with comparatively negative favorability—Washington has performed an about-face during the Trump presidency. 

Shifting from the diplomatic "reset" with Moscow under President Barack Obama, the administration has pursued a sanctions regime that former national security adviser H.R. McMaster claimed brought "severe consequences" on Russian president Vladimir Putin. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Washington has undergone a historic paradigm shift with China in nearly all strategic areas, from influence on college campuses to outer space.

Experts, meanwhile, are concerned that many of the larger gains made during the Trump administration could be reversed with the election of Democratic nominee Joe Biden, whose history on key issues such as Taiwan and the Middle East foretells a different future for American foreign policy.