The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump’s AWOL Military Voters

When it comes to national elections, Republicans are hardly masters of the demographic universe. The GOP pulls 9 percent or less with African Americans. We’ve dropped about 20 points with Hispanics since 2004 (as Trump shovels at the bottom of the well to see how deep that number can go). Obama beat Romney with female voters by 12 points, and there’s been a 12-point increase in the number of Asian Americans who identify as Democratic since 2012.

As the old Elton John number goes, it’s lonely out here in space.

The military and veteran vote has been a sole bright spot for the GOP. Oddly, it’s perhaps the most overlooked demographic in politics. Get out your abacus. Add up active-duty military, reserves, National Guard, veterans, and their families. You get something north of 30 million voters.

That’s the second largest minority demographic under Hispanics. And they routinely pull levers for Republican candidates.

For some weird reason, the media rarely polls this group. Sure, you can yell bias! at the top of your lungs if you’d like. It’s obvious the lamestream media doesn’t want to release a poll favorable to Republicans or Trump.

Go there if you’d like. But I’ve run into plenty of GOP strategists and wonks who only think of voting demographics in terms of race and gender. One such politico approached me a few weeks before a vote in a military heavy state, realizing late in the fourth quarter that they’d done precisely nothing to court military and veteran voters. So it’s not just MSNBC’s producers who are overlooking a vitally important group of voters here.

I’ve long been under the assumption that Trump would perform strongly with the military. It’s a group that loathes politically correct platitudes and the emotive whining that dominates modern liberal institutions. Trump tells those organizations — Hollywood, the Acela corridor, the New York media empires—to get bent. And he conveys his message in barking symphony sung with the gruff baritone of a Marine Gunnery Sergeant.

This is 100 percent pure, unadulterated ear candy to a 25-year old rifleman.

But data are telling a different story. Recent polls suggest Trump is historically weak with the military community. Consider this excellent reporting from Jennifer Jacobs at Bloomberg

“Trump is up 14 points over Clinton with veterans, 53 percent to 39 percent, according to a Fox News poll released Wednesday. McCain was 22 points ahead at this juncture in the 2008 race with registered voters who had served in the U.S. military; Romney was up 24 points in May 2012, Gallup polling showed.”

Down double digits in most swing states, The Donald needs to perform heroically with his few remaining allies like military voters. Yet he’s chronically underperforming both Mitt Romney and John McCain. And to rub salt in this sucking chest wound, a Washington Post poll of Virginia yesterday found that Trump was losing military voters by 8 points. Read that again

The Commonwealth has the highest percentage of military voters against its overall population. The Post’s findings could just be a statistical vagary, it may just be that –due to the Pentagon- there is a higher percentage of officers (and thus college educated, a Trump weakness) military voters in Virginia.

Regardless, lose the military vote by 8 in the Old Dominion and it’s thanks for playing.

Democrats, meanwhile, have smartly intruded on GOP territory. They’ve been making a hard play for the military vote since Kerry lost in ’04 in part due to weakness on national-security issues. Democrats have recruited talented veterans to run for office. The final night of their convention was an opulent pageant to America’s warrior class, featuring revered military leaders like General John Allen, Medal of Honor recipient Florent Groberg (also a French immigrant), and of course – the Khan family.

Trump will still likely win the overall military vote. But he’ll have eroded the GOP’s strength there, along with every other necessary demographic. Math has never been Trump’s friend. And it’s looking like he’ll be doomed by some kinetic arithmetic in November.

As with his many bankruptcies, rest of us will be left to pick up the pieces.   

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