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US troops favor Biden for president, but Trump has a big lead among veterans, polls show

Business Insider logo Business Insider 10/26/2020 rpickrell@businessinsider.com (Ryan Pickrell)
Donald Trump, Joe Biden are posing for a picture: President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden Patrick Semansky/AP Photo © Patrick Semansky/AP Photo President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden Patrick Semansky/AP Photo
  • Polls show that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has more support among active-duty troops, and President Donald Trump has greater support among veterans generally.
  • A Military Times poll found that 43.1% of active-duty respondents said they were voting for Biden while only 37.4% said they were voting for Trump. Another poll of veterans more generally found that 52% were voting for Trump while only 42% were voting for Biden.
  • Many veterans reported they were dissatisfied with both candidates.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Active-duty military personnel prefer Democratic nominee Joe Biden for president, but incumbent President Donald Trump has the edge with veterans, Military Times polls show.

A survey of 1,018 active-duty troops conducted by Military Times in partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University between July 27 and August 10 found that 43.1% of respondents said they were voting for Biden while only 37.4% said they were voting for Trump.

That poll of the active-duty force found that over the past four years, favorable views of their commander in chief have dropped from 46.1% in 2016 to 37.8% by this summer while unfavorable views surged from 37% to 49.9%.

Trump has repeatedly boasted about all that he has done for the US military, criticizing his predecessor for weakening the armed forces and claiming to have rebuilt the military — Trump has overseen massive budget increases for the US military. Still, that message is apparently not resonating with the active-duty force.

Aamong veterans, Trump remains the preferred candidate but his lead appears to be smaller than four years ago, a new Military Times poll shows.

Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 13, Military Times and their Syracuse University partners surveyed 1,733 veterans and found that 52% were voting for Trump while only 42% were voting for Biden.

Notably, though, support for Trump has decreased since 2016, when 60% of veterans voted for Trump over Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to exit polls.

The latest Military Times poll also saw the majority of Trump's veteran support coming from those 55 and older. Younger veterans prefer Biden, with 51% of veterans ages 35-54 backing Biden over Trump. Among veterans under the age of 35, 46% said they preferred Biden while 42% supported Trump.

In the survey, the veterans community generally expressed strong dissatisfaction with both candidates.

Forty-one percent of respondents said they did not trust Trump to lead the military, while 43% said the same of Biden. Fifty-nine percent of veterans surveyed said they did not like Biden as the choice Democratic choice for president, and 51% said they were unhappy with Trump as the Republican nominee.

Biden, however, fared better than Trump when it comes to respect for the military and veterans, and over half of the veterans that participated in the recent poll characterized the president as dishonest.

Biden did not serve in the military, but his late son Beau did, rising to the rank of major in the Delaware Army National Guard; Hunter served for about a month in the US Navy before failing a drug test that led to him being kicked out. No members of Trump's immediate family have served in the armed forces.

The margins of error for the two Military Times polls were less than 2%, but the defense outlet notes that the views expressed by those who voluntarily participated in the surveys may not be perfect reflections of their larger communities.

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