Disenfranchised Over There (Polling Edition)
A few months ago, Democratic operatives were quietly predicting that President Obama could make "serious inroads" with the military vote in 2008. Their forecast was based on a several factors, including Mr. Obama "ending" the war with Iraq; his focus on military family issues (with Mrs. Obama leading the way), and a belief that younger troops were more accepting of the President's more controversial positions, most notably his repeal of "Don't Ask/Don't Tell."
Well, it was a nice theory. Unfortunately for the President--and his party--the military vote remains solidly Republican. Polling data from earlier this year suggested that voters affiliated with the armed forces (active duty, guard/reserve, retirees and veterans) preferred Mitt Romney by more than a 2-1 margin. But the Dims weren't quite ready to give up the ship, noting that the first survey included a large number of older veterans who tend to be more conservative, reflecting their age, political leanings and party affiliation.
As for those currently wearing the uniform, Democratic prospects look equally bleak. A new poll from the Military Times newspapers suggests that Romney bests Obama by a similar margin among its readership:
Respondents rated the economy and the candidates’ character as their most important considerations and all but ignored the war in Afghanistan as an issue of concern.
Among the 3,100 military readers surveyed by the Times, 66% favored Mitt Romney, while 26% said they planned to cast their ballots for President Obama. Interestingly, the former Massachusetts governor is running about two points behind the 2008 GOP nominee, Arizona Senator John McCain, while Mr. Obama's support is three points higher than it was four years ago.
According to the Times, about two-thirds of the military members who participated in poll are serving on active duty, while the rest were drawn from guard and reserve components. The paper cautioned that their sample is a bit older--and whiter--than the general population. However, their readers are also much better educated than the general electorate; almost 80% have a college degree, and more than one-quarter have earned a graduate degree.
Additionally, almost one in three of the survey respondents have been deployed for at least two years since 9-11. That reflects a couple of factors; first, many have experienced the hardships--including combat--that have been a hallmark of military service over the past decade. And secondly, poll participants represent the core of career officers and non-commissioned officers who form the backbone of the U.S. military. They wee deployments, combat tours and other requirements as part of their job and (consequently) don't view presidential candidates solely in terms of who will--or won-t--continue combat operations.
It's also a reflection of perceived competency on key issues. Clearly, members of the armed forces in 2012 are voting with their wallets, as are most Americans. Skyrocketing gas and food prices place a heavy burden on recent recruits and mid-level NCOs. And, virtually everyone in uniform is worried about continued defense cutbacks that will force thousands of junior personnel from the military (the Marine Corps alone will lose 10% of its active-duty strength by 2015). Making matters worse, those facing involuntary separation from the armed forces will enter a civilian economy with dismal prospects for employment, particularly in the defense sector.
So, it's little wonder that Mr. Obama is gaining little traction among military voters. And that may partly explain some of the recent, preemptive moves by Democrats and their friends in the federal bureaucracy. Attorneys for the Democratic Party successfully challenged an Ohio early voting law that gave military members three extra days to cast their ballots, claiming it was unfair to other voters. Then, there's the matter of dwindling absentee ballot requests from armed forces personnel stationed outside their home state.
With the election only a month away, various media outlets are reporting that the number of absentee ballot requests from military personnel in swing states have plunged by as much as 70% over 2008 levels. Some experts put the blame (in part) on the Obama Administration's refusal to comply with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which the President signed into law three years ago.
More from Breitbart:
“While we knew the number of absentee ballots requests would increase as we got closer to the election—and they have—the number being requested is still way too low and indicates that many military members will have their voices silenced on Election Day,” Eversole said.