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Here’s Everything Critics of the Atlantic Council’s Cuba Poll Get Wrong

February 11th, 2014 | Posted by William Vidal in Hard-line hijinks | US Politics

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Last year we ripped apart Jaime Suchlicki’s entire argument for why the US should not lift the travel ban or embargo on Cuba, and it it is still our most popular post ever. Let’s see if we can break that record by dissecting Mauricio’s critique of the Atlantic Council’s poll (if you haven’t read the poll yet, check it out here. It’s a scorcher).

This one is a little more technical, since the poll itself was so well prepared that Mauricio has to jump all kinds of hoops to find fault with it.

Mauricio’s post is in regular type and our comments are in bold.

What You Won’t Read About Arsht’s Cuba Push-Poll

at 12:09 AM Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The anticipated push-poll by The Atlantic Council‘s Adrienne Arsht Center will be released this morning.Here’s what you probably won’t read in most news stories about its results.

First, the entire release is biased and agenda-driven.  No dissenting voices have been invited to participate. As we noted earlier, U.S. Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Congress’ biggest supporters of unconditionally engaging the Castro regime, worked hand-in-hand with the pollsters and organizers. To the point that Flake-Leahy wrote a Miami Herald oped — citing figures from the poll — that was published the day before its official release.

OTS Comment: CLAIM # 1, “the entire release is biased and agenda-driven”

  • The “biased” push-poll was conducted by three-time winner of the “Republican Pollster of the Year” award from the American Association of Political Consultants, Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies along with Democratic pollster Paul Maslin of FM3. (See Page 7 of the report). 
  • Moreover, one of the panelists, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said time and again that though he doubted it was the right time to engage with Cuba due to its human rights situation, he believed the time had come for America to have a serious debate on its policy toward the island. 
  • But no, Mauricio says the poll is biased so it’s biased.

It is not a poll of voters. It’s a general population poll, in which they could have polled Honey-Boo-Boo and it would have been reflected in the results.

OTS: CLAIM #2, “It’s a general population poll”

  • Are there national polls that don’t target the general population? Over 90% of respondents in this poll are registered voters. According to the polls findings, if you take out the less than 10% of non-registered voters, favorability for normalization actually increases. Though had they polled Honey-Boo-Boo, I’m sure she would have sided with the hardliners. They both have a simplistic view of the world that’s unhinged from reality.

The push-poll’s “big news” is that 56% of Americans purportedly support “normalizing relations or engaging directly” with Castro. Note how broad that is. Moreover, they don’t ask about the “embargo” specifically — for they know there’s no support in Congress for lifting the embargo. This push-poll is aimed at the Obama Administration. Yet, based on the results, more Americans support repealing Obamacare than engaging with Castro. And we know the Obamacare numbers don’t influence the President.

OTS: CLAIM #3, “big news’” is that 56% of American purportedly support ‘normalizing relations or engaging directly’ with Castro”.

  • While it is big news that 56% of American support normalization nationally, the really news is that only 35% oppose it, and of that percentage only 22% strongly oppose (versus 30% who strongly support). This shows much higher voter intensity for normalization than for maintaining the status quo. Of course, the real news is in Florida, where those numbers rise up to 62%.

CLAIM #4: “they don’t ask about the embargo”

  • The second question in the poll after demographic info is: “Since 1961 the United States has had no diplomatic relations with Cuba and restricts trade and travel with Cuba for the vast majority of American citizens and American businesses. Would you favor or oppose normalization/engagement?” I guess Mauricio expects the surveyor to read the entire Helms-Burton Act, plus another 16 laws to each respondent while on the phone. (See Question #9 in the poll)

Since the 56% isn’t particularly moving, they ridiculously claim Floridians favor engagement by an even greater number — 63%. Of course, there’s no sampling structure or breakdown of how they polled Florida. We’d note that neither of the pollsters have any experience in Florida politics, let alone the Senators from Arizona and Vermont. Anyone that has actually won a race in the State of Florida, including the Obama Administration, knows that is silliness.

OTS: CLAIM #5 (one of our favorites), “neither pollsters have any experience in Florida politics”

  • Glen Bolger (Republican Pollster): has completed 828 research projects in Florida since 1991, interviewing 352,084 Floridians since the 1991. He has polled 21 of the 27 Congressional Districts in the state and over four dozen State legislative districts. His clients include: Congressman Vern Buchanan, Congressman Jeff Miller, Attorney General Pam Bondi, State Sen. Anitere Flores, Miami Dade County Commissioner Juan Zapata, the Florida Republican Party, the Florida Republican Senate Caucus, Former Gov. Jeb Bush, Former Gov. Charlie Crist (until he switched), Former Congressman Ric Keller, Former Congresswoman Sandy Adams, Former Congressman Joe Scarborough and Former Congressman Allen West, and that’s just to name a few for sweet Honey Boo-Boo.
  • Paul Maslin (Democratic Pollster): I suppose that Mauricio’s heard of one or his clients, former Senator Bob Graham? Hello? Bueller? Bueller?
  • This is a good opportunity to mention that Mauricio was born in Spain, raised in Orlando, lives in DC, and has never worked on a campaign anywhere, much less in Miami or anywhere else in Florida. But who are we to question his authority?

Interestingly enough, even in a push-poll, when an explanation of the human rights abuses by the Castro regime preceded the question, the number of Americans that support engagement went down from 56% to 43%. Even their Florida numbers went down from 63% to 43%. This wide swing shows that those polled knew little about Cuba, particularly those in Florida. Odd right? Not really, that’s exactly who the pollsters were targeting. It’s laughable to think Floridians are less aware of human rights abuses in Cuba than non-Floridians. It also shows why Castro’s U.S. advocates are constantly trying to “white-wash” the regime’s abuses.

*Note that the question that most accurately reflects the human rights and democratic conditions codified in U.S. law — as prerequisites for lifting sanctions — is the one that throws off their “engagement” narrative.

OTS: CLAIM #6, “when an explanation of the human rights abuses by the Castro regime preceded the question, the number of American that support engagement went down from 56% to 43%”

  • Mauricio’s claim that support for engagement declines is not accurate.  When asked in a vacuum by itself, a majority of respondents do regard the regime’s human rights record as reason to keep the current policy in place.  However, after hearing statements both in support and opposed to changing U.S. policy towards Cuba there is no decline in the original proportion of Americans who favor normalizing or engaging with Cuba: 55 percent. 

The poll purports that 64% of Miami-Dade County supports “normalization” with Castro. Once again, no breakdown of who was polled in Miami-Dade County. Yet, the fact remains every single Cuban-American elected official — in any position — in Miami-Dade County supports the embargo. So the facts speak for themselves.

OTS: CLAIM #7, “no breakdown of who was polled in Miami-Dade County”

  • I suppose Mauricio is just hoping to get a lists of names he can add to his hit list of attacks, because the very first line on Page 7 of the report titled “Methodology and About the [evil, commie, biased] Pollsters” states that, “The survey was conducted in English and Spanish from January 7 to 22, 2014, with a nationwide margin of error of +/- 2.1 percent (Florida +/- 4.0 percent and latinos +/- 4.4 percent) at the 95 percent confidence interval. Respondents were interviewed on landlines and cell phones. In addition to a benchmark sample of 1,024 randomly-selected US adults age 18 and over, the survey includes additional over-samples with notable results from the 617 Florida residents and the 525 Latinos interviewed.”
  • See buddy, that is how three-time Republican Pollster of the Year award recipients conduct a poll!
  • It’s worth noting that Cuban-American Rep. Joe Garcia is in favor of the Obama Administration’s policy of family and people to people travel and remittances, and has stated that the administration should open travel and remittance support even further.
  • Also worth noting, local Republican politicians in Miami are quickly flipping sides to Democrat, and with that you can expect them to embrace their gubernatorial candidate’s message to some degree, along with local Dems already in office. I’ll bet Mauricio a New York Strip at Bulla that he’ll have to swallow that statement come election night.

Of course, with the push-poll aimed at the Obama Administration, they asked about the “state-sponsors of terrorism” list and were surprised that it was originally split. So they claim that after more “information” (literally telling respondents “Cuba poses no threat”), the numbers of those wanting Cuba off the list went up to 61%. This was the neatest jedi trick since Obi Wan Kenobi at the Star Wars Cantina. Needless to say, they didn’t “inform” about arms-trafficking to North Korea, the harboring of U.S. Most Wanted Terrorists, the support provided to Treasury-designated terrorist groups, money laundering concerns, subverting democracy in the Western Hemisphere, etc.

OTS: CLAIM #8: “They asked about the ‘state sponsors of terrorism” list and were surprised it was originally split. So they claim that after more “information” (literally telling respondents “Cuba poses no threat), the number of those wanting Cuba off the list went up to 61%”

  • Just because you write checks for candidates doesn’t mean you’ve worked a campaign. If you had, you would know that you don’t pay for a poll, read the results and then go back into the field with follow-up questions. So let’s just look at the “originally split” numbers on the terrorism designation: nationally, 52% say Cuba doesn’t belong on the list versus 40% and in Florida, 61% say Cuba doesn’t belong versus 31%. I guess it’s a good thing Mauricio doesn’t work campaigns, because he doesn’t even understand the meaning of “split.”
  • And the name of the Cantina is Chalmun’s, not Star Wars. Gawd can you get anything right?!

Sloppy and shameless.

OTS: Something here is sloppy and shameless alright, and it sure ain’t the poll. Smells like sulfur, too.

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