Via Cuffy Meigs, who’s wondering what the plural of anecdote is. The left will happily run this up the flagpole, just as Ron Paul’s supporters did last year, despite the fact there are so many variables in play that no one’s quite sure what the actual significance of it is. Is it evidence that the troops favor withdrawal? Evidence that the military’s trending left? Evidence that Obama’s supporters are more enthusiastic than McCain’s? None of the above? All of the above?

Although 59 percent of federal contributions by military personnel has gone to Republicans this cycle, of money from the military to the presumed presidential nominees, 57 percent has gone to Obama…

A former West Point professor, Jason Dempsey, noted that the small set of contributions from deployed troops at this point in 2008 — just 323 donations — should not be extrapolated to form conclusions about military personnel overall. “If, on a bad day, a guy gets that letter that says [his tour has been extended] from 12 to 15 months, that could spur a quick donation and expression of anger,” he said. “Donating helps members of the military express their political views privately.”…

CRP’s totals based on employer are limited to donors contributing more than $200, since information is not provided to the Federal Election Commission for smaller contributions. So these figures are likely to disproportionately represent the mood of officers, who have more disposable income to spend on politics than do the lower ranks. But because young people tend to be more liberal than their elders, the total dollar figures could lean even more in Obama’s favor.

“One possibly mundane explanation (for the tilt in contributions from deployed soldiers) is that the Obama campaign has just been so much savvier with web-based donors. It may be a logistical question,” Belkin pointed out.

Bush outraised Gore and Kerry by wide margins among military employees so Obama’s lead over McCain is noteworthy, even with a small, skewed sample. But again — what is it, precisely, that we’re noting? The fact that Paul does disproportionately well among the same group probably means it’s a war thing; it may be that there’s a core group of troops who are passionately opposed to extending the occupation for whatever reason and they’re willing to donate to candidates to achieve that end. That group was likely too small in 2004 to help Kerry given how recent the invasion still was, but after five years it’s grown along with the rest of the anti-war tide among the electorate. Evidence, then, that most troops want out? Maybe! Except … the data doesn’t specify whether the donations came mostly from Iraq or were spread out around the globe, and interestingly, the one branch where McCain leads Obama in contributions is the one most likely to see the hardest action — the Corps. Beyond that, the would-be McCain soldier-donor has a hurdle to clear on his way to his checkbook that the Paul and Obama donor doesn’t. By kicking in to Maverick, he’s making it marginally more likely that he’ll continue to be deployed in the field and away from his family in the future. Even if he agrees with McCain’s foreign policy, thinks we ought to finish the job in Iraq, and is willing to continue serving bravely and well to that end, it’s asking a lot to ask him to pay for the privilege.

Anyway, all theories welcome. For your enjoyment, here’s a related Ron Paul ad from January celebrating the huge tide of military support that comprises the three-percent rEVOLution.

Update: Headlines comments imported.