Aug 22, 2008
Deployed troops put their money where their vote is and overwhelming choose Obama
The non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics broke a long-standing myth earlier this month when it released a report that said deployed U.S. troops contributed money to the presidential campaign of Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama by a margin of 6-1 over his Republican rival.
The center operates the web site Open Secrets, and according to the press release, Obama received 134 contributions totaling $60,642 to his opponent John McCain’s 26 contributions for $10,665. McCain was even bested by former GOP challenger Ron Paul who grabbed 99 contributions for $45,512 even though he has been out of the race for some time.
Clearly, the troops know who is concerned about their welfare, both why they are deployed in harms way and when they come back home and have to resume a normal life. The troops put their money where their mouth is and endorsed Obama.
It has to be insulting to McCain who is a former naval officer who has made his experience as a POW in Vietnam a major part of his campaign.
It has long been assumed that the military is conservative and hence Republican, especially in light of it being an all volunteer force for some 34 years, but it appears that is changing or it is simply one more Republican myth. According to the press release, members of the Armed Forces no matter where they were stationed gave Obama the most campaign contributions in 2008, by a $55,000 margin. Still, Republicans got more overall federal contributions in 2008, receiving just over half at 59 percent.
Also, McCain still leads among military donors overall, but if Obama's 2008 numbers hold, that could change.
Whether that converts to votes remains to be seen. The press release notes that seeing political activity of any sort among soldiers is notable, and a lot of the enlisted ranks are apolitical. I have to admit that I did not even vote for the first time until I had been in the military for 15 years.
However, the 6-1 margin speaks volumes.
"That's shocking. The academic debate is between some who say that junior enlisted ranks lean slightly Republican and some who say it's about equal, but no one would point to six-to-one" in Democrats' favor, said Aaron Belkin, a professor of political science at the University of California who studies the military, in the press release. "That represents a tremendous shift from 2000, when the military vote almost certainly was decisive in Florida and elsewhere, and leaned heavily towards the Republicans."
The Center for Responsive Politics is the nation's premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. Nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, the organization aims to create a more educated voter, an involved citizenry and a more responsive government.