Military voting for Bush 4-to-1

Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 03:54 am
Troops in survey back Bush 4-to-1 over Kerry

By Dave Moniz, USA TODAY

An unscientific survey of U.S. military personnel shows they support President Bush for re-election by a 4-to-1 ratio. Two-thirds of those responding said John Kerry's anti-war activities after he returned from Vietnam make them less likely to vote for him.

President Bush greets troops aboard a flight headed to Iraq and Kuwait in Bangor Maine in September.
Kevin Bennett, Bangor Daily News

In the survey of more than 4,000 full-time and part-time troops, 73% said they would vote for Bush if the election were held today; 18% said they would vote for Kerry. Of the respondents, 59% identified themselves as Republicans, 20% as independents and 13% as Democrats.

The survey was conducted Sept. 15-28 by the Army Times Publishing Co., which distributes the weekly newspapers Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times. (Army Times Publishing is owned by Gannett, which also publishes USA TODAY.)

Army Times Publishing sent e-mails to more than 31,000 subscribers and received 4,165 responses on a secure Web site. The publisher cautioned that the results are not a scientific poll. Its readers are older, higher in rank and more career-oriented than the military as a whole.

Even so, experts who examined the survey results said they do not bode well for the Kerry campaign's efforts to woo the military, a traditionally Republican and conservative voting bloc. The Kerry campaign has highlighted his war record in an effort to burnish his credentials as a prospective commander in chief.

"You can't dismiss" the results, said Peter Feaver, a Duke University political scientist who for years has studied the political leanings of the U.S. military. Feaver said it's unlikely that Bush will receive 70% of votes cast by military personnel. But the results suggest it will be difficult for Kerry to make substantial gains among a group that has strongly supported Republican presidential candidates in the post-Vietnam era.

Feaver said he suspects Kerry is losing support among those in uniform because he seems less committed than Bush to prosecuting the war in Iraq.

Richard Kohn, a University of North Carolina history professor who has studied the political culture of the military, said the Bush campaign has been effective in creating the impression that, if elected, Kerry might "cut and run" in Iraq. "None of us who has studied Kerry's character believes that, but the Bush campaign has established in the public's mind a connection to Vietnam," Kohn said.

Kerry campaign spokesman David Wade called the Army Times Publishing effort "an inaccurate e-mail survey" and said that Kerry has "the vision and values to keep faith with military families and America's veterans."

Of survey respondents, 65% of active-duty and 67% of Guard and reserve troops said that Kerry's activities after Vietnam made them less likely to vote for him. Kerry served in Vietnam as a naval officer and was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. He protested the war after returning home.

Only 12% of active-duty troops and 16% of Guard and reserve troops said Bush's actions in the National Guard made them less likely to vote for him. Bush received a coveted pilot's slot in the Texas Air National Guard during the height of the Vietnam War and missed a number of mandatory drills after he stopped flying fighter jets in April 1972.

Active-duty, Guard and reserve troops number about 2.4 million, a small slice of the electorate. But in closely contested states such as Florida, their votes could be crucial. The survey found little difference in presidential support among the four military branches.

While there is a lot of information available on how military veterans have voted, data on the voting patterns of active-duty personnel are scarce. Feaver said experts believe military personnel favored Bush over Al Gore 2-1 in the 2000 presidential race.

A number of military analysts, including Feaver, had been predicting as recently as this summer that Bush would suffer a slight erosion this year based on a number of factors, including misgivings about the conduct of the war in Iraq and dislike of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in some military circles. Of those responding to the survey, about three-fifths said they approve of the way Bush is handling the situation in Iraq; one-quarter said they disapprove.

Military personnel who responded to the survey said they were generally happy with their jobs: 73% said they would re-enlist.

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Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 06:17 am
On the other hand, from another war President's son John, a 50-year Republican:


While the writer of your piece does say from the outset that the poll is unscientific, I find it hard to believe the President has that kind of support from the military (when I was in, we said publically what the higher-ups wanted to hear). I will be interested to see what kind of re-enlistment figures are forthcoming over the next few months.

One interesting line from the article regarding readership of the Army Times: "Its readers are older, higher in rank and more career-oriented than the military as a whole." Sounds like a Republican leaning reight there.

(One final thought as an FYI - I truly dislike Kerry, but I dislike Bush more!)
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Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 06:22 am
Seems to me the military has always attracted more conservatives than liberals to their ranks.

Heard on a news program a few days ago that re-enlistments were 6% over quota the past fiscal year...can't remember who reported that.
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Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 06:40 am
Not surprised especially since Kerry has never demonstrated a consistant policy on Iraq and his "past" certainly can not be helpful in attracting support from current soldiers nor veterans.
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