President Bush’s overwhelming edge in popularity among men and women serving in the U.S. armed forces could tip the race to the incumbent in a close election.
A National Annenberg Election Survey of military personnel and their families indicates that this segment of the population is far more likely to view President Bush favorably than Sen. John Kerry. In fact, 69% have a favorable opinion of Bush while only 29% have a favorable opinion of Kerry.
The survey, released October 15, also shows that 94% of the troops on active duty say they intend to vote this year, while only 85% of the general population intends to do so.
Even though Kerry served in Vietnam and made his past military service a major feature of the Democratic National Convention, the Annenberg poll indicates he has won very little respect from active-duty military and their families.
The survey interviewed 655 active-duty military (including regular forces, National Guard members and Reservists) and military family members between September 22 and October 5. The poll had a margin of error of +/-4%.
Sixty-seven per cent said they approved of the way Bush was handling his job as President and 64% said they believe the country is headed in the right direction.
Perhaps the most significant answer in the survey came in response to the question: “Who do you trust to handle the responsibilities of commander in chief of the military: George W. Bush or John Kerry?” Sixty-nine per cent said Bush, while only 24% said Kerry.
A 1948 law prohibits directly polling members of the armed forces about whom they intend to support in elections. So, the poll only raised the logical inference that a majority of military personnel will support Bush based on answers given to other questions.
The preference for Bush over Kerry, for example, was strongly displayed when military people were asked to compare various traits of the two candidates. When asked who “shares my values,” 64% said Bush; 28% said Kerry. When asked who is a “strong leader,” 72% said Bush; 20% said Kerry. When asked who “says one thing and does another,” 22% said Bush; 65% said Kerry.
The military personnel embraced realistic views about Iraq. When asked: “All in all, do you think the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over, or not?” 69% said yes, and 27% said no. Only 47% said the war in Iraq has reduced the risk of terrorism against the United States, and only 47% said they think President Bush has a “clear plan” for bringing the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion.
Nonetheless, a dismal 16% believe Kerry has a “clear plan” for bringing the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion.
When asked to list the “most important reason” for going to war in Iraq, 29% said to remove Saddam from power, 23% said because Iraq was helping terrorists, 15% said because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, 13% said to bring stability to the Middle East, 11% said to gain control of Iraq’s oil, and 6% said to bring democracy to Iraq.
Cares about people like me
Shares my values
Says one thing, does another
Generally speaking do you think of yourself as:
Here are some of the results from the National Annenberg Election Survey of 655 active-duty military personnel and their families.
Do you approve of the way George W. Bush is doing his job as President?
Please tell me if your opinion of George W. Bush is favorable or unfavorable?
Please tell me if your opinion of John Kerry is favorable or unfavorable?
Do you feel things in this country are generally going in the right direction, or do you think things are going seriously off on the wrong track?
All in all, do you think the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over, or not?
Do you think George W. Bush has a clear plan for bringing the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion, or don??¢â???¬â???¢t you think so?
Do you think John Kerry has a clear plan for bringing the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion, or don??¢â???¬â???¢t you think so?
Who do you trust more to handle the responsibilities of commander in chief of the military: George W. Bush or John Kerry?
Source: National Annenberg Election Survey. The complete poll can be viewed here.