By Wes O’Donnell
Managing Editor of In Military, InCyberDefense and In Space News. Veteran, U.S. Army & U.S. Air Force.
In August, Military Times and the Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families conducted an active duty poll showing that the majority of servicemembers still in uniform back former vice president Joe Biden for President.
For those familiar with the military community, these results were surprising because historically active-duty troops as a cohort tend to lean center-right.
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Now, a similar poll conducted in the first two weeks of October, one targeting veterans, showed that a slight majority of veterans, 52.4 percent, favor President Trump and 42.3 percent favoring Biden.
The Age of the Veteran Was the Biggest Factor
Interestingly, Trump’s support among veterans comes predominantly from individuals 55 or older. According to Military Times, in that group, 59 percent said they plan to vote to reelect the president, as opposed to 38 percent who plan to vote for Biden.
Perhaps most surprising, 60 percent of veterans who enlisted after 2001, the younger generation of vets, view Donald Trump negatively. What’s more, veterans ages 35 to 54 were even more opposed to the current administration, with 51 percent planning to back Biden and 40 percent voting for Trump.
Outside the veteran community, two recent polls, one from CNN and one from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal found that seniors backed Biden 62% to 35% for Trump. This stands in contrast to veteran seniors who plan to vote for the president.
According to US News, all of those surveyed agree that the most important determining factors for the election are the economy, the federal response to the spread of the coronavirus, and foreign policy. Older veterans also cite immigration and the Supreme Court as high priorities. Younger veterans listed health care and racial inequality issues. Economic inequality was fourth-most most important for those younger than 35.
Women and Minority Veterans Strongly Support Biden
The poll also showed that nearly 65 percent of women veterans and 61 percent of minority veterans had an unfavorable view of the Trump presidency.
None of the veterans surveyed believed that veteran’s issues have been given the attention they deserve during the campaign from either candidate.
Since veteran suicide, access to healthcare, post-traumatic stress, transition and employment are still top priorities for those who have answered the call, one would have hoped that the candidates would have spent some time talking about and tackling some of these difficult issues.
And yet, veterans are still answering the call to service today: Because many (typically elderly) poll workers are at higher risk from complications related to the COVID-19 pandemic, veterans nationwide have volunteered to work as poll workers in an effort called #VetsPowerThePolls.
Regardless of who the next Commander-in-Chief is, veterans can be counted on to continue their life of service post-military.
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