U.S. Military voting trends: Probably not what you think

By Lee Cleveland, Polls and Trends - December 22, 2020

President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign recently filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan, alleging the ballot-handling and counting process was riddled with fraud.

Although no proof of wrongdoing has been found, a Republican poll watcher insists he’s stumbled upon a red flag.


Presumed Quandary
A small sample of ballots from active military servants reviewed by that certified poll watcher allegedly went for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden by a high number.

“I did find it odd that, throughout the day/night, I saw a few dozen military ballots be counted,” a certified poll watcher said in his statement dated November 4. (Source: Business Insider)

“Although I cannot provide specific numbers or names, I can estimate that at least 80% of the military ballots I saw were straight ticket Democrat or simply had Joe Biden’s name filled in on them.”

Since the 1980s, active service had usually supported Republican candidates by a considerable margin. In fact, the military was arguably once the GOP’s strongest voting bloc. For example, a 2003 poll conducted by Military Times found that 57 percent of those surveyed considered themselves Republican, while just 13 percent identified with the Democrats, and 30 percent declined to comment.

Although the GOP’s grip on the military was softening, it was still safe to say at least 6 in 10 active military servants preferred Republican candidates to Democrats at the start of the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

An ethnically diverse group of U.S. Service members gather around President George W. Bush during a visit to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Sept. 3, 2007. Defense Dept. photo by Cherie A. Thurlby (released)

U.S. Military Staunchly Republican? Not These Days
Over the years, things have changed and the GOP can no longer depend on support from active military troops to tip the balance of power in its favor in hotly contested state races.

According to a 2016 Military Times poll conducted during the presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, only 40.5 percent of service members said they would cast their vote for Trump compared to 20.6 percent who planned to vote for Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, a whopping 34.3 percent of service members said they would seriously consider a third party candidate.

That poll, conducted over four years ago, should have started to raise a few eyebrows.

Although Trump enjoyed a 20 point advantage over his Democratic rival, his overall military support was tanking versus Republican presidential candidates in the previous four decades. Less than half (40%) of active military supporters were committed to voting for him. Thus, it should have been no surprise the latest Military Times poll, conducted in collaboration with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University and released just 9 weeks prior to the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, showed a slight but decisive preference for Biden among active-duty service members.

Based on 1,018 active-duty troops surveyed in late July and early August 2020, Joe Biden bested Donald Trump 41.3 to 37.4 percent with just 12.8 percent preferring a third party candidate.

In addition, nearly half of respondents (49.9 percent) had an unfavorable view of President Trump, compared to about 38 percent who viewed him positively. And a commanding 42 percent “strongly” disapproved of Trump’s performance. (Questions in the poll had a margin of error of up to 2 percent)

Wayne County Demographics / Diversity of the U.S. Military
If the alleged dozens of ballots reviewed were from Wayne County, an area with a combined minority population of 45 percent, it’s very conceivable Biden thoroughly defeated Trump there among active military service. After all, the president-elect received over 68 percent of the overall vote in that county.

And even if the ballots were received from Michigan citizens outside of Wayne County, half of them or more may have belonged to someone who is a minority. And we know, minorities, as an aggregate, lean heavily Democratic.

Today’s active duty military is far more racially and ethnically diverse than in previous generations. (See the George W. Bush pic above) According to Pew Research, only 57% of U.S. servicemembers in 2017 were White; And, in the same year, women represented 16% of the overall active duty force, up from 9% in 1980 and 1% in 1970.

But, there’s more. Much more.

Losers and Suckers
Let’s not forget about President Trump’s alleged, very negative comments about American active military servants and veterans that were released a few weeks after the Summer 2020 Military Times / Institute for Veterans and Military Families poll. Surely, they did nothing to help the president’s popularity among active servicemembers.

It’s believed President Donald Trump, in 2018, canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris because he, according to four key sources with firsthand knowledge of the events that day, feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and did not believe it was important to honor American war dead.

To add insult to injury, Trump, in a chat with his senior staff on the morning of the scheduled visit, allegedly referred to the 1,800 plus American marines buried near Paris as “losers” and “suckers” for getting killed.

It’s also believed General John Kelly (Ret), who previously served as one of Trump’s many chiefs of staff, was one of the sources. In fact, according to The Atlantic, Trump, on a separate occasion, demeaned the integrity of Kelly’s son who was killed while serving in Afghanistan. When accompanying the general on a gravesite visit, President Trump reportedly said, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”

If the allegations are fake news, why hasn’t General Kelly denied the heinous stories or defended Trump in any way?

And, again, news of Trump’s alleged questions to Kelly and the president’s supposed statements about the 1,800 plus American war dead in Paris were made public after a poll had already showed his stock was plummeting among U.S. military personnel.

Of note, on at least two other occasions since becoming commander-in-chief, several sources with inside information insist Trump referred to former President George H. W. Bush as a “loser” for being shot down in World War II. Incidentally, eight other American pilots who were shot down on the same mission were caught, tortured, and subsequently killed by the Japanese military.

And who can forget when Trump, while running for president in 2016, famously called Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war, a “loser” for having been caught and tortured in Vietnam?

For those wanting to find voting fraud, examining the referenced 20 percent of pro-Trump ballots from active military servants might be a better course of action.

What military servant, current or inactive, would support a president who said such awful things?

“I understand what The Atlantic reported is probably painful for the president to hear,” retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, a former longtime army commander and son of an Air Force pilot who was killed over Laos in 1969, told Military Times.

“But it’s not a surprise to anyone in uniform after watching how he behaved toward Sen. McCain.”

“It’s all transactional for him … it’s beyond comprehension that we would have to tolerate a commander-in-chief who behaves the way this president does.”

Military Parade, Revolving Doors and Utter Mistreatment
Lastly, Trump hasn’t exactly treated top military brass with the utmost respect and has made a mockery of the National Security Council and Department of Defense, among other agencies.

The very classy General John Kelly, previously the head of Homeland Security in the Trump Administration, was fired as chief of staff and subsequently ridiculed and publicly chastised by the president. And well-respected Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, Trump’s second national security advisor, was also fired while General Jim Mattis either quit or was fired (depending on who you ask) as Defense Secretary.

Can you keep up with all this?

President George W. Bush had two National Security Advisors – Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley – during his eight year stint as commander-in-chief.

Trump, in less than four years, has had six. And he might not be finished in what is currently a lame duck period.

Perhaps Trump’s dubious firings and subsequent insults of brave, well-liked, highly visible military professionals didn’t sit well with the U.S. Military?

“The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t [in love with me], because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes [can increase profits] and make everything else stay happy, but we’re getting out of the endless wars, you know how we’re doing,” Trump stated at a September 2020 press conference.

…. ‘They want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes [can increase profits].”

That comment, alone, is deeply insulting to American military personnel on all levels.

No, it’s not surprising Biden and his fellow Democrats appear to have received a lion’s share of the armed forces vote – It’s a wonder Trump still has any military support at all.

Tags: Donald Trump, U.S. Military, U.S. Presidential Race 2020


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