Friday, October 19, 2007

IRI releases Cuba poll

The International Republican Institute released a survey of Cuban public opinion (pdf) today in a press release datelined Vilnius, Lithuania and with a document that lists the author as the organization “Solidaridad Espanola con Cuba.” IRI says that interviews for the survey were done in 14 of 15 Cuban provinces between September 5 and October 4, 2007, and it claims a four-point margin of error.

The IRI materials don’t say who did the poll, but a spokesman says it was done by a professional survey research firm.

In a question where respondents were asked to name, without prompting, the “biggest problem in Cuba,” economic issues predominate: 66 percent named salaries, prices, food, the embargo, transportation, or housing, and 18 percent said the biggest problem is lack of freedom or the political system.

By a three-to-one margin, survey respondents were not optimistic about the government’s ability to solve the problem they cited, and when asked what kind of government could solve the problem, 42 percent didn’t answer.

Other questions showed a belief that political and economic change would improve conditions in Cuba, and 74 percent agreed that Cubans should vote to select Fidel Castro’s successor.

Asked whether Cuba resembles other countries, 90 percent said, no, it’s unique. They got that right.

The survey says that nine percent of Cubans have access to e-mail and Internet, an additional 27 percent have access to e-mail alone, and ten percent use cell phones.

These are selected comments; for the full document – a summary of results, not the poll itself – follow the link above.

The survey raises another question. If two U.S. government grantees, IRI and Solidaridad Espanola con Cuba, can send pollsters to Cuba, why does the U.S. government’s own Radio and TV Marti rely on surveys of émigrés in Miami to measure their audiences?


leftside said...

First impressions:

51% caucasian and 48% afro-cuban or mixed race?? There is a good chance the Cuban population was not adequately represented with these figures. Its likely rural Cubans were passed over - the most ardent supporters of the Revolution.

Just 2.2% percent that think a capitalist government can solve their problems. Only 11.5% say any government but the current one would do the trick.

There does seem to be a strong current for reform - political and social. But the wording on these questions was highly suspect (telling respondents their current system offers no choices is called blatant leading to anyone who knows polling). And of course, if specific reforms like privitizing health care or making higher education pay for itself were asked directly, the answers would be far different.

If 36% were found to have access to the internet, how to reconcile this with last year's RSF report that said only 2% of Cubans are online??

Mambi_Watch said...

Good points Leftside.

As for the TV/Radio Marti question, perhaps US insiders already know how bad the coverage is, and have thus concealed any good inquiries.

Fantomas said...

fake poll

el papel aguanta todo

Cubans are not savvy enough to respond to any poll that may deviate them from la linea del partido

To think otherwise is to be blind

Anonymous said...

The large majority, over 76%, said a multi-party, democratic form of govt. woulb be better than the current one. Only about 3.5% would prefer a "socialist" govt. in the future. One must have in mind that Cubans associate the word "socialist" with the current govt. I think the poll is very revealing. About 42% refused to answer this question, which accounts for the distrust and fear which exists in that society.

I don't know where Leftside gets his idea that the rural population is the most ardent in the support of Castro. They can not even kill their own cows, get paid almost nothing for their products by the govt. which, in many cases, had not paid them in months. Meanwhile, they see large tracts of govt. owned, uproductive land in the hands of the State, land which could be turned over to the peasants to work. Land which is covered by marabú, that tropical bush which grows wild in Cuba.

As far as the racial make up of the respondents, I think it is more accurate than the Census figures for the 2002 census released by the Castro govt. According to those figures, Cubans were 65% Caucasian and 35% Afro-descendants. At least the poll respondents wwere more balanced: about 52% Caucasian and 48% Afro-descendants.

Alex said...

If the race question is self reported, then I don't have a problem. Most Cubans would answer Caucasian even if thet have a little mix.

Leftside is wrong, rural Cubans are mostly white. The black population is in the cities. And have to agree with Anon: the idea that rural population supports the regime disproportionately is simply not true. They are some of more reform-minded, especially in economics. They hated the coop system and migrated to the free market of agricultural products en masse both times it has been allowed (early 80s and early 00s) I'd bet Leftside has never been to Sandino or Rodas, where the regime relocated large amounts of peasants that supported the Escambray rebellion.

What I found interesting in the poll is how it shows a path for Chinese-model type reforms.

Anonymous said...

I agree, the black population is mostly in the cities. Also, in some places in Cuba, whites are still large majority. But it is outside of towns where you see more. The more rural, the whiter the population gets.

What is good about the poll is that both blacks and whites were interviewed in representative numbers, as well as percentage.

What is also surprising is that most answers differ a lot from the official line. Even more surprising when you take into account how hesitant Cubans usually are whent it comes to giving political opinions to strangers.

Ernesto said...

Phil, what about Mel? He is not in "the Cuban Triangle" anymore?

leftside said...

Racial composition is more an East-West and regional thing - than a city-rural one. I guessed the rural areas were underrepresented just based on the unprofessionalism of the pollsters and political objectives of the sponsors. I've always (saw and) read that rural cubans were more pro-regime - they certainly saw more dramatic improvements. Phil, any thoughts?

Alex said...

Those "dramatic improvements" -and how real they were vs. Revolution lore it has been debated- were 48 years ago. Most of Cuba's rural population was either not born or don't remember life before Castro. Their current situation and specifically the deterioration since the good years of the early 80s weigh a lot more on their opinions and outlook.

Phil Peters said...

Regarding the poll, I wouldn’t venture a guess on the question of urban vs. rural levels of support for the Cuban govt. I think it’s an interesting poll but there are limits, for obvious reasons, to the accuracy of any poll taken in Cuba, especially one like this that touches on sensitive questions that would trigger caution among respondents. That’s why it would be interesting to know how it was done. Who asked the questions? Spaniards? In what setting? How did they identify themselves? Did they have a questionnaire or a notebook or a tape recorder in hand?

Ernesto, regarding Mel, I assume you mean Senator Martinez and his departure from the Republican National Committee job. I don’t read much into it, regarding Cuba policy or anything else. I can’t imagine that he wanted a job like that, given his Florida duties. And the fact that he took heat from so many Republicans who want to restrict immigration and build a wall on the southern border, and who don’t like his position on immigration, can’t have made it any easier. I bet he’s a lot happier today than he was last week.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Peter's have you ever thought that the reason that it makes it difficult for Radio and TV Marti to do surveys on the island is because it is ILLEGAL to listen to or watch Radio and TV Marti? For a Cuban, admitting that they do would be admitting to a crime. Reality and common sense would also state that they have no idea who is asking these questions and living in such a closed repressed society would give any respondent pause before answering loaded questions. This I believe is supported by the high number of "no answers" found in IRI survey.

Phil Peters said...

I don't underestimate the difficulty of survey research on any topic in Cuba. Radio/TV Marti used to do surveys in Cuba, now they measure their audience by talking to Cubans recently arrived in Miami. I agree that the high percentage of nonresponses is a red flag.

Enrique Soldevilla said...

El resultado de esa encuesta es que la principal preocupación de la mayoría del pueblo de la isla está relacionada con su anhelo de mejoría económica, de vivienda, salarios y bienes materiales y de servicios públicos. No relevante los asuntos de naturaleza política. En ese sentido esa encuesta valida lo que escribí recientemente en un artículo ("Del Estado omnipresente al socialismo simpático", publicado en mi blog y en