U.S. veterans, about 13% of the adult population and consisting mostly of older men, support Mitt Romney over Barack Obama for president by 58% to 34%, while nonveterans give Obama a four-percentage-point edge.
Veterans in the U.S. today are mostly male and two-thirds are aged 50 or older. In a population that is currently evenly split in its preferences for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney for president, veterans stand out for their 24-point preference for Romney. About a fourth of men are veterans, and it is their strong skew toward Romney that essentially creates the GOP candidate's leading position among men today. Among nonveteran men, Obama and Romney are essentially tied.
Why veterans are so strong in their preference for the Republican presidential candidate is not clear.Previous Gallup analysis has suggested that two processes may be at work. Men who serve in the military may become socialized into a more conservative orientation to politics as a result of their service. Additionally, men who in the last decades have chosen to enlist in the military may have a more Republican orientation to begin with.
Veterans' strong preference for Romney in this election occurs even though Romney himself is not a military veteran -- though Obama shares this nonveteran status. This will be the first election since World War II in which neither major-party candidate is a veteran.
Barring unforeseen developments such as the re-institution of the military draft, the proportion of the male population in this country that will have served in the armed forces will decrease in the years ahead as the older population dominated by veterans dies off. These data suggest that Democrats could get an overall boost from this demographic phenomenon as these apparently reliable Republican voters become a smaller and smaller proportion of the population.Fox News reports:
Large pockets of veterans live in such states as Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia. But whether they can assemble a big enough voting bloc to help either candidate win or lose a state remains unclear.
The most likely place will be Florida, a key election state with 1.6 million veterans, Martin Lee, spokesman for Vets for Romney, said Saturday.
"If we can motivate veterans to go to the polls, with elections so close now, the difference of 100,000 votes could change the election," said Lee, a Navy veteran.
While jobs and the economy are likely to remain the major topics of the general election, veterans' affairs, including high unemployment, will be a factor, especially since their votes could influence the tight race.