President Obama is expected to announce on Wednesday that the U.S. will take major steps toward normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba, which have been in a deep freeze since the 1960s. Though these measures will stop short of lifting the embargo—which would require an act of Congress—the move still trails well behind American popular opinion. Even though Fidel Castro has been a national bogeyman for decades, there's less and less appetite in the U.S. for a policy of harsh isolation, even among Cuban Americans, a group that has historically favored strict measures to squeeze the Castro regime.
That isn't to say that Americans have come to look fondly on the Castro brothers. Views of Cuba are still unfavorable by a significant margin—nearly 20 percent—but they've been steadily inching upward since the late 1990s:
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Yet in every Gallup poll since 1999, a majority of Americans have wanted to normalize relations with Cuba, with the number varying between 55 and 71 percent in favor. And bare majorities—or in one 2000 poll, a plurality—have also supported ending the U.S. embargo against the country.
The greatest bastion of support for the policy of isolation has historically been the Cuban-American community in Florida—people who have fled the Castro regime and their families. As refugees from a communist regime, they've also tended to be far more conservative than other Latinos in the U.S. More recently, however, even Cuban Americans have concluded that the embargo isn't working. (There are also signs that they're moving toward the political center: Obama won the vote bloc in 2012 after losing it in 2008.)