The professional core of the U.S. military overwhelmingly favors Mitt Romney over President Obama in the upcoming election — but not because of any particular military issues, according to a new poll of more than 3,100 active and reserve troops.
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.
The Military Times Poll is a secure email survey of active-duty, National Guard and reserve members who are subscribers to the Military Times newspapers (see How We Did It, below).
This population is older and more senior than the military population at large, but it is representative of the professional core of the all-volunteer force.
The 3,100 respondents — roughly two-thirds active-duty and one-third reserve component members — are about 80 percent white and 91 percent male. Forty percent are in paygrades E-5 through E-8, while more than 35 percent are in paygrades O-3 through O-5.
Almost 80 percent of respondents have a college degree — including 27 percent with a graduate degree and more than 11 percent with a post-graduate degree — while an additional 18.5 percent have some college under their belts.
And they are battle-hardened; almost 29 percent have spent more than two cumulative years deployed since 9/11, while a similar percentage has spent one to two cumulative years deployed.
The Military Times poll shows that Republicans continue to enjoy overwhelming support among the military’s professional ranks.
“There is really an affinity for Republican candidates, even though [troops] say that what counts is character and handling the economy,” said Richard Kohn, who teaches military history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Poll results indicate that about 66 percent of those surveyed support Romney, compared with about 26 percent who say they will vote to re-elect President Obama.
When asked about the most important issue guiding their vote this year, about 66 percent of respondents cited either “the economy” or “the character of the candidate.” Less than 16 percent of troops surveyed cited “national security.”
And the war in Afghanistan is barely a blip on the radar: Just more than 1 percent put that conflict at the top of their list of concerns. That’s in stark contrast to troops’ feelings about the war in Iraq in the Military Times 2008 election poll, when 16 percent cited that conflict as their top concern.