For the last nine years, the Military Times newspaper has surveyed an average of 2,300 active-duty service members. Their latest poll has just been released and concludes that “Obama’s popularity — never high to begin with — has crumbled, falling from 35 percent in 2009 to just 15 percent this year, while his disapproval ratings have increased to 55 percent from 40 percent over that time.”
Much of the opposition to Obama has come from military members who believe he has been an inconsistent and flawed leader in foreign policy — for example, his 2011 removal of all troops in Iraq helped lead to the rise of the Islamic State, which then required a new U.S. intervention in the region. But some of the resistance comes from those who see his moves to change the military’s culture as “heavy-handed social engineering that erode deep-seated traditions and potentially undermine good order and discipline.”
That said, the Military Times poll shows “quiet acceptance” of some changes in the armed forces. For example, in 2009, the poll “found that 49 percent of troops felt gays, lesbians, and bisexuals should not be allowed to serve. In 2014, such disapproval fell to just 19 percent.”
When it comes to support for the Obama policy of ending the ban in on women serving in combat units by 2016, the results were more mixed. A quarter of all military members surveyed support opening all jobs in combat arms units to women, a number that hasn’t increased in recent years. The number of troops who feel some combat-arms jobs should be opened up to women has increased from 34 percent to 41 percent since 2011, “while the percentage of respondents who felt the military should not change its policies excluding women from combat arms units fell from 43 percent in 2011 to 28 percent in 2014.”
One trend the Military Times poll has picked up in the last nine years is an increasing disillusionment with both political parties. Those service members who consider themselves Republicans have slowly dropped from nearly half of those surveyed to just 32 percent this year. The Times poll notes that “increasingly, readers are more likely to describe themselves as libertarian (7 percent) or independent (28 percent).” Democrats and liberals make up some 8 percent of the poll respondents.