A new poll conducted by Military Times asking members of the U.S. military for their opinions on current political issues has found Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with a lead among service members. If the election were held today, apparently at least 41 percent of respondents said that they would vote for Biden, while just 37.4 percent said that they would vote for Trump. Meanwhile, although the level of third party support in the actual election may end up lower, 13 percent of respondents said they’d vote for a third party candidate.
Former George W. Bush adviser Peter Feaver observed:
‘It’s fair to say that Trump is not as popular as Republican nominees have been in the past among this group. The bottom line is that in 2020, Trump can’t be claiming to have overwhelming support in the military.’
The numbers are a sharp turnaround from the poll results among military members about four years ago — in October 2016, shortly before that year’s presidential election, 40.5 percent of respondents said they’d vote for Trump, while just 20.6 percent said they’d vote for Hillary Clinton. Although exit polling showed a significantly smaller chunk of military members actually going for the option on Election Day, at the time, 34.3 percent of respondents said that they would vote for a third party candidate.
In the time since 2016, the number of military members with a favorable view of Trump has also declined sharply — in 2016, 46.1 percent said they had a favorable view, while 37 percent said they had an unfavorable one, giving the president a slight net positive favorability among members of the military. In this latest Military Times polling, 49.9 percent — almost a majority — of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of the president, while just 37.8 percent said they had a favorable view, constituting a sharp decline.
One of the drivers of service members’ poor view of the president may be his refusal to seriously deal with an alleged plot in which Russia offered rewards for Afghan fighters if they killed U.S. troops. He’s claimed that the reporting about the subject is just a hoax, which he presumably imagines is meant to make him look bad. There’s no evidence for this alleged conspiracy. Only about 17 percent of the respondents in the latest Military Times poll “felt the White House has properly handed reports that Russian officials offered bounties for Afghan fighters to target and kill American troops,” the outlet explains.