When we talk about the politics of Cuba, we're talking about one thing: Florida. On the map below, darker colors correlate to a larger Cuban population.
Florida is home to three-quarters of the country's Cuban population; Cubans make up one-fifth of the state's foreign-born population, according to five-year estimates released by the Census Bureau in 2013.
And as Pew Research found in June, the Cuban population in the United States has shifted to the left politically. When the organization polled in 2000, nearly two-thirds of Cubans identified as Republican, in part a function of the party's strong history of criticizing the regime of Fidel Castro. Since, that has shifted dramatically.
Part of that change is a function of the changing Cuban-American population. While the 2010 Census showed that Cubans are more likely to have been born outside of the United States than other Hispanic groups, a smaller percentage of the population immigrated in the wake of Castro's take-over. More than half of the current foreign-born Cuban population has immigrated since 1990 -- meaning, it's fair to assume, less fervent opposition to the regime, and presumably a smaller likelihood of having family in the United States with such strong feelings.
Update: Pew Research was generous enough to share data on how partisan views among Cuban-American voters have changed by age. Younger Cuban-Americans have consistently been more Democratic than older ones -- but both groups have moved dramatically to the left.
Obama's announcement on Wednesday that the United States would move toward normalizing relations with Cuba is a function of a lot of considerations, of course, but -- as with his recent action on immigration -- it's impossible not to see the move as a reflection of long-term politics. Florida is a big prize in presidential politics, as those of you who have had access to a television or the internet within the last decade are aware. Improving relations is popular broadly; it's safe to assume that it's increasingly popular with Cuban-American voters in Florida, too.
In the Post's 2012 election recap, William Booth wondered if the shift by Cubans to the Democratic party would "translate into a change in U.S. policy toward Cuba." Correlation doesn't equal causation, but still: Look at that correlation.
Correction: This post has been corrected to say that Cubans are one-fifth of Florida's foreign-born population, not population in total.