June 24, 2014

After decades of GOP support, Cubans shifting toward the Democratic Party

Cubans in the U.S. have long identified with or leaned toward the Republican Party, even as Hispanics overall have tilted Democrat. But the party affiliation of Cubans has undergone a shift over the past decade, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of survey data.

Political Affiliation Among U.S. CubansLess than half (47%) of Cuban registered voters nationwide now say they identify with or lean toward the Republican Party—down from the 64% who said the same about the GOP a decade ago, according to 2013 survey data. Meanwhile, the share of Cubans who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party has doubled from 22% to 44% over the same time period, according to the survey of Hispanics.

The Cuban population in the U.S. is centered in Florida, home to seven-in-ten of the nation’s 2 million Cuban-origin Hispanics. In the 1960s, the state’s Cuban immigrant population boomed as many left the island after Fidel Castro’s rise to power. The concentration of Cuban voters subsequently helped push the overall Hispanic vote toward the Republican Party in the Sunshine State. In 2004, for example, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush won 78% of the Cuban vote in Florida, compared with 56% of the state’s Hispanics overall. 

The shift is partly explained by the coming of age of U.S.-born Cubans, who have somewhat different political affiliations than their elders. Today, 44% of Cubans in the U.S. are native-born. Some 48% of Cubans ages 18 to 49 were born in the U.S., compared with 11% of Cubans who are 50 years and older.

The shift is also partly explained by the different waves of Cuban immigrants who have arrived in the U.S.—more than half of Cuban immigrants arrived after 1990. Between 2000 and 2010, the annual average growth of the Cuban immigrant population was 17,300, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

Looking at all Cubans, including those not registered to vote, only a third say they identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, according to the 2013 survey of Hispanics. On the other side of the aisle, some 48% of Cubans today say they identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party.

The impact of younger Cubans is reflected in those figures. Over half (56%) of Cubans ages 18 to 49 identified with or leaned toward the Democratic Party compared with 39% of those 50 years and older. Conversely, older Cubans tend to identify with or lean toward the Republican Party more than younger Cubans, by 44% to 23%. Even so, the share of older Cubans who are Republican has declined over time. In 2002, among all Cubans, some 68% who were 50 and older said they identified with or leaned toward the Republican Party.

Among Latinos, those of Cuban origin have had some of the highest voter turnout rates. In 2012, 67% of Cuban Americans voted nationally, compared with 48% of Latinos overall. In the 2012 presidential election, the Cuban vote in Florida was split—49% supported Democrat Barack Obama while 47% supported Republican Mitt Romney, according to the national exit poll. Among all Latinos nationwide, Obama won 71% of the vote, compared with just 27% for Romney.

Topics: U.S. Political Parties, Race and Ethnicity, Political Party Affiliation, Hispanic/Latino Vote

  1. Photo of Jens Manuel Krogstad

    is a writer/editor focusing on Hispanics, immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.


  1. Corey Thompson2 years ago

    It’s not just Cubans. Other Pew data shows that a lot of people are pulling away from the Republican party in general. And the those registering as Independent has exploded as well. I think that the Republican party has a real problem on their hands and that they have pulled to far to the right and catered to too many in that base. They have turned their message from the party of common sense to the party of religion. They seem to be consistently standing on the wrong side of social issues. They also seem to be, now more than ever, standing up for the corporations way too much and I don’t think that is just Democratic propaganda, I’ve seen them do it over and over again.

    I’m an Independent. I feel I am a fiscal conservative but a social liberal as well. And at this time in our country, I think the social issues are the more important ones so I have voted more Democratic than not. It looks like I’m not the only one.

  2. Curtis Phillips3 years ago

    The 17,000+ new Cuban immigrants seems high. It just doesn’t seem possible that that many can be making out of Cuba. Has anyone done a study of how many people from other South American countries are posing as Cubans to get instant citizenship. Is this a problem?

    1. Curtis Phillips3 years ago

      That’s 17,000 plus per year.

    2. Corey Thompson2 years ago

      Not unless they are immigrating to Cuba first. You have to apply at the United States Interest Section in Havana. That’s actually a bit of a racist remark.

      1. Mason Preston2 years ago

        in what way was he saying the race was inferior? It’s exploitation of general ethnic similarities

        1. PR2 years ago

          Race ≠ nationality.

    3. PR2 years ago

      It really sounds like you’ve never met a Cuban. It’s not exactly easy for South Americans to “pose” as Cubans. Cubans have a way of behaving and speaking that is difficult to imitate. You would not know this unless you were Hispanic yourself, though, or you lived in Miami. 🙂

  3. philip george3 years ago

    Cubans realize that no government should be forced into disfunction by obstructionists. Nobody will benefit except a few billionaires . I hope every one of them VOTES for Democrats !

    1. Willie3 years ago

      Obstructionist? You bet, since the Democratic Party has been hijacked by the Communist Party I believe the Republicans need to stop their anti-american agenda as Jon Gruber has proclaimed!

      1. Corey Thompson2 years ago

        Joseph McCarthy has risen again!

  4. Graciela Catasus3 years ago

    Has anyone considered that, after 55+ years in the U.S., the Cubans are finally figuring out whose side they should be on; therefore, they are increasingly registering Democratic? After all, Ike’s Administration helped put Fidel in power–another brilliant regime-change maneuver–and last time I checked he was still a Republican!

  5. Jim D. Socialist3 years ago

    I think the Cuban people in America are realizing that the Democratic Party and Fidel Castroism are NOT the same thing, and that many progressives in the DP want to help Latinos and all Americans in areas like public education, fair housing practices, preserving our environment and keeping jobs in America. What do the Reps want? They don’t want immigrants, they don’t want public education, social services, a fair wage, or renewable energy.

    1. Astralis3 years ago

      The Democrats track record with helping blacks is disastrous and has set blacks backwards. If this is what Hispanics want, then it makes sense why they fight revolutions to put people and dictators like Fidel into power.

  6. John McAuliff3 years ago

    So why is President Obama so reluctant to make significant changes in US policy toward Cuba, e.g. a general license for people to people travel, ending inclusion in the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, normalization of diplomatic relations?

    John McAuliff
    Fund for Reconciliation and Development

    1. G3 years ago

      Cuba sponsors terrorism, even against its own citizens.

  7. RR3 years ago

    The GOP needs to learn that if you spread hate about any minority, you will drive away ALL minorities

  8. slk3 years ago

    so they’re escaping socialism, to set it up here???

    1. Eli Jackson3 years ago

      Sure looks that way brother… For the endtimes are here, only question in my mind is whether the Lord will come first, before this nation drops off into civil war.

  9. Ralph. Kolderup3 years ago

    The R party and its perception with the younger generation is much like my first car…..a 1955 Ford. Out of date, with a declining base. Sad, but true.

  10. Gabriel Rumor3 years ago

    Curious about the influence that Cuban-American growing relationship will have on my poor Godforsaken country, Venezuela. Hoping it will accelerate our own liberation movement, helping us to get rid of our contra-natura dependence of Castro´s hegemony

  11. elba cabrera3 years ago

    I want to share this article.

  12. Bob3 years ago

    primarily because the American Taliban/GOP has come Completely off the rails…in addition to continuing its demonstration if concerns for the Corporate & Wealthy, over American Citizens with whom they are Completely out of touch…in Gun Control, Corporate Welfare

    1. 90miles3 years ago


      1. slk3 years ago

        hurry up and buy her book, that someone else wrote!!! remember, she was broke!!! and now you’re very close to being broke!!! and she’s laughing all the way to the bank!!! by the way, hillary will be a spectator on election day!!! first hard question and she’ll be rushed to the hospital!!!

    2. Geary3 years ago

      I think it might be something simpler than that: McCarthyism. While fresh immigrants from Cuba, much like fresh immigrants from Soviet Russia, were so wary of communism and so detached from true political process that they bought into the GOP’s fearmongering about socialists and communists, their children’s were less so, though they still grew up in an otherwise conservative household. Now their children’s children grew up without the boogieman of American communists, and that voting demographic is becoming much larger and challenging the views of their parents.

      The GOP didn’t change, people did.

    3. slk3 years ago

      let me ask you, what do you make a year, and how much more then that do you spend, without paying off your debts??? so let me get this straight, you speak socialism (tax the rich), but live conservative!!! thats what you call a hypocrite!!! and now thinking like a socialist, would you vote for ben carson??? ted cruz??? mike lee??? nikki haley??? since your answer is “no” to all, why do you “hate” all people, including yourself??? how can you tell if your a liberal socialist??? you’ll tell a pregnant woman, smoking is unhealthy for your baby, but it’s ok to to abort(kill) your baby!!!