The battle-hardened veterans of the military favor Mitt Romney over Barack Obama by a huge margin, 66% to 22%, according to an October poll conducted by the Military Times -- and the two issues most important to the voters were the economy and the character of the candidate. 66% of respondents said that either the economy or the character of the candidate was the deciding issue.
The group surveyed was comprised of 3,100 respondents who were roughly two-thirds active-duty and one-third reserve component members. Almost 29% have spent more than two cumulative years deployed since 9/11, and another group that size has spent one to two cumulative years deployed.
One 28-year-old Army captain said:
“When I talk to my soldiers, it’s not social issues. It’s almost not even military issues. What it comes down to is pocketbook issues. They currently see Mitt Romney as being stronger for their pocketbook. It comes down to taxes — how much are they going to have to pay — and are they going to be able to find jobs if they leave the military.”
Romney’s business acumen resonated with the veterans. Capt. John Bowe, a Marine military policeman, said he’s voting for Romney because Obama has failed with the economy. “You cannot add $6 trillion to the [national] debt in 3½ years and not expect massive repercussions,” he said.
But Obama’s performance in foreign affairs also failed to impress; Bowe said Obama’s performance in Libya after Muammar Gadhafi was deposed was poor, saying, “If you’re not an effective manager … you can’t run anything else.”
Obama’s performance as Commander in Chief was strongly criticized; 62% of the voters rated his handling of the defense budget as only fair or poor, while 57% said his handling of the war in Afghanistan was poor.
Most significantly, the military appears as if they are poised to turn out the vote, as Bowe asserted:
“You kind of expect your soldiers to go home at night and play Xbox and drink beer — which they do — but I’ve heard them talk about [the election] quite a bit. They’re more dialed in than some might think.”