Election 2016

Gary Johnson and Donald Trump Tied For Lead in New Military Poll

Libertarian, Republican candidates within the margin of error among U.S. military personnel; Hillary Clinton trails by more than 20 percentage points.


The military likes the Libertarian
Flickr/Gage Skidmore

A newly released poll conducted earlier this month by Military Times and Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families shows a dead heat between Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and Republican Donald Trump among U.S. military personnel.

The poll—which Military Times calls "the first scientific breakdown of voting preferences among service members"—has Trump at 37.5 percent, Johnson at 36.5 percent, and Hillary Clinton at 16.3 percent. Green Party nominee Jill Stein got 1.2 percent, while other options collectively received 3.2 percent. The margin of error was 2 percent, putting Trump and Johnson in a virtual tie.

Interestingly, among the officer corps, Johnson is the clear favorite, with 38.6 percent support. Clinton's standing with the military improves among the higher ranks, where she polled 28 percent to Trump's 26 percent.

Over 2,200 active duty troops participated in the survey, which also included retired military and family members of military members. But because of restrictions on active service-people from taking public positions on electoral politics, no identifying information was required to take the survey. However, in an email to Reason, Military Times' reporter George Altman explained that 83 percent of "the active duty respondents to this poll came from the Military Times active duty subscriber email list," where respondents' active duty status had been previously verified by a third party verification service.

The week-long survey began the same day as Gary Johnson's infamous "What is Aleppo?" gaffe, but it appears to not have harmed his standing among the military, many of whom expressed profound disgust with the two major party candidates. According to the poll's analysis, 85 percent are "dissatisfied with Clinton"—though 35 percent of those plan to vote for the Democrat anyway—and 66 percent are "dissatisfied with Trump"—though 21 percent of those intend to vote Republican.

Military Times quotes an Army captain as saying, "These are the worst two [major party] candidates we could possibly have." An Army sergeant reportedly responded to the survey by writing, "We're all doomed to have a president that the majority of the nation disapproves of, one way or another."

Johnson has polled well among the military in other "unscientific" polls, and a particularly vocal group of his supporters were none too pleased that he was not invited to participate in Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)'s NBC-televised Commander in Chief forum two weeks ago. IAVA says they have invited Johnson to speak at a separate televised forum, but no date as been announced.

The last Military Times poll, conducted in July, had Trump receiving 49 percent of the military vote, Clinton getting 21 percent, with Johnson a distant third at 13 percent. It seems that Johnson's increased media exposure over the past two months has been a boon to his support among the military.

It's worth noting that only about one percent of eligible voters are active duty military, but two swing states in particular—Virginia and Florida—are home to numerous military bases, and thus have a substantially larger than average number of military members among their voting rolls.

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  1. “It’s worth noting that only about one percent of eligible voters are active duty military, but two swing states in particular?Virginia and Florida?are home to numerous military bases, and thus have a substantially larger than average number of military members among their voting rolls.”

    Settled. It’s Johnson’s fault if either Trump or Hillary lose VA or FL.

    1. Actually, I’d guess that the majority of active duty personnel vote by absentee ballot in their home state rather than in the place where they’re stationed. That’s what I did when I was active duty.

      1. Yeah, but your vote probably didn’t count anyway.

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      2. Aren’t VA and FL still very high in active-duty membership?

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  2. “Hillary Clinton trails by more than 20 percentage points.”

    “Hillary Clinton at 16.3 percent”

    “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”

    1. It’s not surprising the higher ranked careerists would favor Clinton-she’d be great for business.

    2. Incidentally, my understanding is that approximately 20% of the people in the active duty military are African-American.

      According to Gallup, only 11% of non-Hispanic blacks have a favorable view of Trump, and the overwhelming majority are voting for Hillary.


      So, Hillary can probably thank the African-American contingent in the military for that 16.3%. Even so, it’s easy to deduce that Hillary’s support among African-American active duty military is clocking in lower than it is among African-Americans nationwide.

      And it’s easy to see why everyone hates Hillary. She took money from foreign governments while she was the Secretary of State. Is it alright for active duty soldiers to take money from foreign governments while they’re in the military? I would guess that’s probably illegal. Don’t they call that “spying”? I wouldn’t imagine Hillary taking money from foreign governments while she was the Secretary of State would go over well with the military.

      Did I mention that Hillary took money from foreign governments while she was the Secretary of State?

      P.S. Hillary took money from foreign governments while she was the Secretary of State.

      1. Most military members don’t really care or aren’t aware about her taking money from foreign governments; her negatives are mainly due to her support for the Iraq war, her botching of foreign relations in the Middle East during her tenure as SoS, and her clear willingness to continue the business as usual policy of bombing countries there, which will perpetuate our now-26-year occupation of the region. There’s also the concern from the lower ranks that she’s just going to be another SJW social engineer and put identity politics above stuff that will actually accomplish the mission.

        You’re probably right that the bulk of her support in the military is from minority members. While the military is pretty diverse, a plurality of the lower ranks are still drawn from white southerners who hate her guts, but are lukewarm at best towards a loud-mouthed New Yorker like Trump.

  3. Fuck a military poll. I want to see a poll if every registered voter with a security clearance. For the lulz.

    1. Fuck a military poll.

      Been there, done that.

      1. Crusty, there are several ways of interpreting that statement, and none of them are good.

  4. My take: The United States military wants to force me to bake gay Nazi cakes with refugees from Aleppo.

    That is not in any constitution I’m aware of, but then again I didn’t go to Constitution Reading School, so what do I know?

    1. It’s pronounced AlePPo, with an extra plosive p.

    2. Those refugees ruin the flavor. NEEDZ MOAR MELANIA!

  5. You know who else wanted to know what the military thought?

    1. Hugo Boss?

  6. OT: I’m sure I missed the Reason post about this guy and his book so I’ll mention it here in case you missed it, too. Battle America: the War On The American People. The police state/nanny state/bureaucratic state, it’s all the same thing and it’s all just an argument that you’re the property of the state and your purpose is to serve the needs of the state. The whole thing is a quotable read with plenty of links, quite good.

    1. link doesn’t work

  7. Trump’s #1

    You want to pull that “margin of error” shit say “virtually tied” to obscure GayJay’s 2nd place standing.

    1. Okay sweety.

    2. Cake 2016!

    3. You don’t have to put up with these shitty fractions of a percentage point in cockfighting. Two cocks enter, once cock leaves. SIV likes things simple.

  8. “The requested page cannot be found”

  9. Man, that’s a lot of guys who are going to wind up dying in a 3rd world desert after the queen is annointed.

    Service folks, into the deplorable basket with the millennials you go.

    We need a bigger basket and bring me some water! *cough, cough* /the queen

  10. Interesting that the more technically sophisticated the service, the more the go for Johnson. Navy, Air Force, Army, Marines. Trump goes up in the reverse order.

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