Veterans and active-military members vote as voters. When it comes to picking a president, they care about jobs, health insurance, and other kitchen-table issues – just like everyone else.
Consider that veterans narrowly favored Bill Clinton, who some called a draft dodger, over World War II hero George H.W. Bush in 1992, while Bush’s son won the military vote in 2004 by 16 percentage points against decorated Vietnam veteran John Kerry. Republican John McCain, who survived captivity in Vietnam, won the military vote in 2008, but only by 10 percentage points.
“There’s this idea that veterans have a shared outlook and interests, but voting behavior is usually explained by other factors, like party affiliation, ideology and religion,’’ said Benjamin Bishin, an associate professor at the University of California-Riverside, who studied exit poll results from more than 20 elections between 1992 and 2002.
The absence of a cohesive military vote, however, won’t stop the presidential candidates from courting veterans and their families.