Since a lot of people seem to conflate Memorial Day with Veterans Day, or simply think of both as generic flag-waving, service-honoring events, you’ll probably hear about a new Gallup survey showing Mitt Romney with a sizable lead over Barack Obama among vets.
Much of the advantage, of course, comes from the various identities of people who disproportionately make up the ranks of military veterans. For obvious reasons, they tend to be male (though less than in the past). And because the cohort of American men subject to conscription (which ended in 1973) is by definition aged 57 or over, they will reflect the increasingly Republican partisan leanings of older men–or at least older white men. It is true that younger veterans share these leanings, but that’s probably attributable to the predispositions of the relatively small percentage of men who choose to enter the military in the post-conscription era.
Interestingly, there is virtually no gap between the presidential preferences of veteran and nonveteran women, and no “age gap” among the veterans themselves, according to Gallup.
The less than positive record of Republicans in taking care of the needs of veterans (as reflected by their demand during the debt-limit negotiations to expose veterans programs to the “defense sequester” to lessen the impact on current Pentagon spending) will undoubtedly receive some attention from the Obama campaign and congressional candidates over the next few months.
This will be the first election since World War II in which neither major-party candidate is a veteran. But that probably won’t keep Republicans from trying to claim some inherent if unearned superiority as the party wearing the uniform. At least Mitt Romney won’t be landing jets on any aircraft carriers.