Decision 2012: Wild Swings in Veterans' Vote

By Sandra I. Erwin
A Reuters polls in May showed President Obama with aseven-point lead among military veterans. More recent numbers have Republican rival Mitt Romney ahead by 20 points.
What gives?
Much of the swing appears to be the result of demographic and regional splits within the veteran community, which is far from politically monolithic. A majority of veterans, however, traditionally vote Republican. Both John McCain in 2008 and George W. Bush in 2004 won the vet vote.
Obama has actively courted the military and veteran vote, and his campaign consistently highlights his administration’s efforts in areas such as new programs to help military families and to encourage corporations to hire veterans. The president also has brandished his national security credentials — killing Osama Bin Laden, ending the war in Iraq and scaling back U.S. military presence in Afghanistan — in a messaging campaign that, in theory, should help him with military voters.
Recent poll numbers reported Sept. 25 by Politico suggest the president is losing the battle. A Reuters/Ipsos poll has Romney up 48 percent to 34 percent.
The Truman National Security Project, a pro-Obama group, cites a Zogby poll from last week that shows Obama is up 54 to 40 among military families.
Truman National Security Project spokeswoman Stephanie Dreyer said she was “puzzled” by the Politico report on Romney’s 20-point lead among veterans.
“I would like to point out that the Reuters poll cited in the story is not definitive in any way,” she said in an email. “It is important to keep in mind that Romney has traditionally alienated the younger veterans — those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan — with his proposals to cut veterans' benefits, eliminate the HUD, which runs HUD-VASH [Department of Health and Human Services Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing] and his lack of clarity on his plan in Afghanistan,” Dreyer said. “We strongly believe the veteran and military families community will increasingly move towards Obama because polls show they trust President Obama more as commander-in-chief and on foreign policy matters.”
Pro-Romney groups, meanwhile, have hammered the president for cutting the Defense Department’s budget instead of domestic programs. According toVeterans and Military Families for Romney, “After four years, President Obama has shown that the only federal program he is willing to cut is our military.”
If the wildly swinging polls prove anything, it is that veterans are a tough crowd.
Photo Credit: Istockphoto

Topics: Defense Department, Defense Watch

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