One of the key criticisms of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been his inability to connect with average, middle-class Americans. A study from a left-leaning think tank that focuses on military issues, called the Truman national Security Project, shows that Romney has performed poorly in districts with a heavy military population. The data comes from the Republican primary states.
In “Super Veteran” counties, which have veteran populations above 15 percent, Romney severely underperforms. In the GOP primary so far there have been 18 “Super Veteran” counties and Romney did worse compared to his statewide averages by at least 11 points in 16 of those counties. The only exceptions were two small counties in Colorado and South Carolina.
Romney’s poor performance with veterans also matches up well with his big loss to former Speaker Newt Gingrich in South Carolina, which is a state heavily dominated by the military and veterans.
The study also indicated that Romney’s lack of popularity with veterans could hurt him in states like Oklahoma, Virginia and Ohio, which also have significant veteran populations.
If Romney becomes the Republican nominee he will be one of the few Republican candidates for president that didn’t have at least some military experience. The last Republican president to have no military service experience at all was Herbert Hoover, who was a Quaker.
One of the key regions for Republicans to make gains in is the Rust Belt, which has a large number of both veterans and blue-collar voters. President Obama’s lack of military experience and poor connection to military culture could be a major problem for him in the general election, but it could be negated if a Republicans send out a candidate with similar flaws.