The president has long claimed that he has widespread support among America’s troops thanks to his increases in the Defense Department’s budget and his promises to decrease the number of troops in foreign conflict zones, according to the publication.
However, a new poll, conducted before the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, showed that his support among military members actually lags behind that of his opponent. Specifically, 43.1 percent of service members said they would vote for Joe Biden if the election were held today, while 37.4 percent said they’d vote for the incumbent president. Of the remainder, 12.8 percent said they support a third-party candidate, while around nine percent said they didn’t intend to vote.
Peter Feaver, a White House adviser to former President George W. Bush who is currently a political science professor, noted that Trump’s lack of support among the troops stands in contrast to previous Republican candidates, who have traditionally been able to count on overwhelming support from men and women in uniform.
“It’s fair to say that Trump is not as popular as Republican nominees have been in the past among this group. The bottom line is that in 2020, Trump can’t be claiming to have overwhelming support in the military,” he said.
Apart from the election, the poll also showed that Trump has failed to get generalized approval from the majority of military service members. Only 24.5 percent said their opinion of the 45th president was “very favorable,” while 42.0 percent had a “very unfavorable” opinion of him. By comparison, at the start of his presidency, 46 percent of troops had a favorable opinion of him, while 37 percent viewed him unfavorably.
Many in the nation’s defense force also disagree with the president when it comes to policies and events that have involved them. For example, 17 percent said they believed Trump properly handled allegations that Russia had offered bounties on American troops, while 47 percent disagreed with his claim that the reports of bounties were based on bad intelligence. Similarly, nearly 74 percent of poll respondents disagreed with Trump’s suggestion that the military should be used to quell civil unrest, while only 22 percent supported that idea.
Rosalinda Maury, the director of applied research at the agency that conducted the poll, said that the wide variety of responses contradicts the notion that the military is a reliable voting bloc with consistently similar views.
“The military is not a homogenous population. You do see a variety of opinions, especially within subsets of the military,” she said.