Veterans Retreating from Obama
This really should win the Gomer Pyle “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise” Award, but closet-left website “Politico” appears to treat recent poll results showing President Barack Obama’s approval among military veterans below that of challenger Governor Mitt Romney as one. In reality, any lead he may have had with this traditionally conservative group of voters was short lived at best, and suspect in the least, especially in light of the suspect nature of this election cycle’s polling by the main stream media.
Back in May, Obama had the lead among Afghanistan and Iraq veterans. But a Reuters/Ipsos poll from September says that’s evaporated, with Romney now up 48 percent to 34 percent.
In the key battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Virginia; Romney holds decisive double digit leads with vets over Obama, even as the President maintains an overall lead over his Republican challenger in those states. On the surface, this may not be worrisome for the Obama camp, except that veterans by far have one of the largest turnout rates of any voting group. This should not be surprising, as they alone have been the people willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so we can all enjoy the right to vote. They also remember that, when they were in the service, it was their only way to voice their opinion about the Commander-in-Chief because any other expression of political opinions was frowned upon (and even against the rules for the most part). They have a unique appreciation of this right, and generally hold it in higher regard than most citizens who have not served in the military.
But even as the Politico article tries to make this look like all is not lost for the President (and indeed this mismatch may not play into the final poll that counts in November), some basic facts are worthy of consideration in light of this data:
o Traditionally, former and current military voters have gone for the more conservative choice on a ticket, which still remains Romney in this election.
o Veterans are more influential now than they ever have been before with others who have not served, especially in matters of opinion on foreign policy and defense spending. These two areas are not Obama’s strength with this group. Also, vets are becoming more vocal and active individually and in groups in their efforts to influence public opinion. A good example is the new Special Operations For America PAC, who has been openly critical of President Obama in his role as Commander-in-Chief, such as in this YouTube clip which they are raising money for to air on national TV.
o Memories are long with veterans, and oversights like honoring servicemembers with pictures of Russian naval vessels during the 2012 Democratic National Convention don’t do much to endear the party and it’s lead candidate with many current and former members of the military. Bowing to foreign leaders does not win points either.
o Speaking of long memories, very few vets will forget the number of times the current Commander-in-Chief uttered the word “I” when reporting to the nation that Seal Team 6 (actually the Naval Special Warfare Development Group) had indeed killed Osama Bin Laden. While it probably was not the President’s intention, he rubbed this group the wrong way that evening by appearing to take more credit for the operation than was due him. He did not help matters when he later invited many of his Hollywood supporters to the White House for a briefing on the operation in which secret information was revealed. That is just bad form in the eyes of a veteran, especially if sharing that information could even be perceived to place others in danger.
o While some may have thought Romney’s remarks shortly after the Embassy attacks in the Mideast were out of place and wrong, they appealed to traditional values of many veterans through making it clear such acts were not acceptable. The former governor also touts the traditional Republican defense advocate strong suit as described below which appeals to veterans:
Ryan Williams, a Romney campaign spokesman, said the Republican’s lead among veterans comes from their resistance to the looming potential defense cuts under the budget sequester, problems with Obama’s foreign policy positions and the backdrop of the stagnant economy that’s left the post-Sept. 11 generation of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with a difficult time finding work when they return home.
None of this is to say that Romney has been perfect with his treatment of veterans. He was rightfully called out by vet organizations for failing to mention the sacrifice of military members who currently are and have served during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. But if the polls are to be believed, it appears as if they are more willing to forgive this as an oversight and place their support behind him in November.Tags: afghanistan, Barack Obama, battleground state, Commander in Chief, election 2012, Ipsos, iraq, Military, mitt romney, Navy SEALs, Osama Bin Laden, politico, Politics, Reuters, Special Operations for America, veterans, War On Terror