Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

McCain only gets same level of Vet support as GWB

Gallup is out with a story on McCain’s support among veterans. Of course, McCain is in front among veterans, and the article’s headline makes that clear.

But, when you dig into the details, it’s apparent that McCain is not leading among veterans as much as he should be.

McCain is up 56-34 among military veterans, with 10 percent undecided. Assuming that the undecideds break 50-50, that would be a roughly 60-40 split for McCain.

How does that compare with 2004?

[In] Gallup’s final pre-election poll in 2004, 55% of registered voters who had served in the military backed George W. Bush, compared with 39% who supported John Kerry. It is notable, then, that McCain is doing only about as well among military veterans as Bush did in 2004, despite the two Republican candidates’ varying military backgrounds.

One additional fact Gallup leaves out: in 2004, the Democrats were running a Vietnam veteran. Even with the swiftboat attacks, Kerry had a natural advantage among veterans, which Obama is matching.

If veterans are supposed to be a core constituency for McCain, he needs to be significantly outperforming Bush in order to balance areas where he may be bleeding support, particularly among Hispanics and Evangelicals.

Veterans skew conservative as is:

Veterans’ affinity for the Republican Party is confirmed by the finding that 47% of those who have served in the military currently identify with or lean to the Republican Party while 39% identify with or lean to the Democratic Party. By comparison, 48% of all U.S. adults are Democratic in their party orientation and 37% are Republican.

McCain should be doing much better than he is. McCain is only winning about half of the “non-partisan veterans” as identified by this poll.

The McCain camp may tout this poll as evidence of his strong backing in the veteran community, and, indeed, he does appear to have strong support there. But Barack Obama is performing on par with John Kerry among veterans, and has more (financial) support from active troops than McCain.

If the McCain folks want to rest on their laurels when it comes to veterans, let them. Obama’s strong performance in front of the VFW today shows that he’s going to force McCain to play defense with a group that he should be outperforming George W. Bush in.

But, of course, don’t expect any “Why is John McCain only matching George W. Bush’s numbers among veterans?” stories. They would run counter to the narrative.

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August 19, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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