President Barack Obama is trying hard to win veterans, but it looks like they’d prefer a new commander in chief.
The Obama campaign had been hoping that veterans and their families — especially among the post-Sept. 11 generation that served in Iraq and Afghanistan — would be part of their path to victory: They’re a high turn-out demographic and concentrated in battleground states, with nearly 1 million each in North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, and 1.6 million in Florida.
But recent polls make clear that the president’s campaign is losing the battle. Even as Obama leads in Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Virginia, Mitt Romney is up by double digits among veterans in those states. Nationwide, he’s got a commanding 20-percentage-point lead over Obama and has even overtaken the president with younger veterans.
“It’s no contest,” said Maurice Tamman, a Reuters data news editor who has polled on veterans and the presidential campaign.
Obama’s campaign has been trying to improve on a historical Democratic disadvantage on national security and among veterans by touting the killing of Osama bin Laden, ending Iraq combat operations and winding down the war in Afghanistan. They’ve also been talking up the administration’s attention to veterans’ benefits and efforts spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama, hoping to appeal not just to the troops but to the spouses and other military family members who have coped with long separations and multiple deployments.
Instead, even as Obama has been gaining in the overall polls, several NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls conducted from Sept. 9-11 had Romney well ahead of Obama among veterans in Florida, Ohio and Virginia. And in Colorado, a poll released Sept. 16 by SurveyUSA and the Denver Post found both veterans and military families supporting Romney over Obama 53 percent to 39 percent in a survey that included third-party candidates.