Which candidate for president enjoys the most support among the military, active and retired?
The Military Times recently released the results of a poll of their readership (Active Duty military, Reserve-National Guard members, and “military retirees”). They found that among “Active Duty” military John McCain enjoyed a clear advantage over Barack Obama (67% to 24%). McCain’s advantage over Obama was even larger among “Guard & Reserve” members (71% to 21%) and “Retirees” (72% to 20%).
Senator McCain’s advantage among present and past members of the military proved to be pervasive across service boundaries: Army (68% to 23%), Navy (69% to 24%), Air Force (67% to 24%) and Marine Corps (75% to 18%). Senator McCain also enjoyed similarly high levels of support from both enlisted (67% to 24%) and officers (70% to 22%).
The age of the service members did not appear to diminish Senator McCain’s level of support vs. Senator Obama’s. Among service members 18-34 years of age, McCain enjoyed a 65% to 27% advantage, and among those 35 and older, it was McCain (70%) and Obama (21%).
The only two groups that departed from the pervasive support McCain garnered from the military were women and African-Americans. Among women service members McCain was favored by only 53% to 36% over Obama, a drop of 15% from his support among all service personnel.
African-American service members, however, provided the most dramatic departure among the military in terms of support for Senator Obama. African-American service personnel supported Obama over McCain 79% to 12%. By comparison, among Hispanic service members, support for McCain was 63% to 27% for Obama.
Those numbers reflect the fact that African-Americans are providing overwhelming support for Senator Obama this election cycle. Polls show that African-Americans are registering and planning to vote in record numbers for Senator Obama. The startling dissonance between African-American service members’ voting preference vs. their fellow service members’ reflects this larger societal trend.
There is a another phenomenon in American presidential elections that is analogous to this phenomenon. In 1960 John F. Kennedy benefited greatly from being a Roman Catholic. Although his faith was considered quite controversial, in the end he received almost the same number of votes from Protestants (who were thought to have grave reservations about his Catholicism) that previous Democratic presidential candidates had received. However, Kennedy received unprecedented and overwhelming support from the Catholic community, similar to the support Obama is currently receiving from the African-American community.
In other words, being Catholic helped Kennedy win and Obama’s ethnicity is benefitting him similarly in the 2008 election.