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President Trump Gets More Approval From Enlisted Military Than Officers

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By Dr. Eowyn

The Military Times conducted its poll of more than 1,100 active-duty troops in September. Here are the findings:

(1) Trump is more popular among the military than Americans in general:

  • About 44% of the military have a favorable view of Trump, while 40% have an unfavorable opinion of him.
  • In contrast, opinion polls of the general public (if those polls can be believed) show Trump’s popularity at less than 40% and an unfavorable rating as high as 56%.

(2) Troops’ views on Trump have changed very little since he was elected last year:

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  • A similar Military Times poll conducted in late 2016, just before Trump took office, found about 46% of troops had a favorable view of Trump, while 37% had an unfavorable opinion of the incoming president.
  • Both the 2016 and 2017 polls had a margin of error around 3%, making the shift in popularity figures slight, if at all.

(3) A deep divide between the enlisted’s vs. officers’ opinions of their commander in chief:

  • Almost half (48%) of enlisted troops approve of Trump; but only 1 in 3 officers (30%) say the same.
  • More than 53% of officers said they had an unfavorable view of the president.
  • A retired Air Force colonel, who asked for anonymity, called the officer-enlisted split shocking: “I never thought that you would have a disparity in the numbers like that.” He suspects that Trump’s unpredictability is both the source of enlisted troops’ attraction to him and officers’ reservations: “When you have a hierarchy like we have within the military, part of it is that there is respect for the chain of command. What Trump may offer is, it doesn’t matter. He’s just going to say whatever he wants to say, regardless of what the expected norms are for that position.”
  • Joseph Lobban, an intelligence soldier who retired last year as a sergeant first class, said the divide isn’t surprising: “Enlisted people like a man who says what he means and would like to see the job done, no frills, no questions asked. From the way President Trump has presented himself, he has been that kind of person.” For Lobban, Trump is an individual who speaks plainly and directly, “That’s why I think enlisted people respect the man, because the man is set on his position and enforces it.”
  • In contrast, a Navy lieutenant who asked to remain anonymous called Trump’s blunt talk distracting and the Trump White House “extremely reactionary, verging on whimsical, when it comes to matters of international politics. They are also creating unnecessary division domestically and revisiting political battles that have already been settled and accepted, such as reinstating the transgender military ban. It causes so much upheaval, stress and wasted resources, and has a real impact on morale at the deckplate level.”

(4) On Trump’s handling of military policies:

  • 55% of all troops rated favorably Trump’s handling of military policies.
  • 26% rated unfavorably.

(5) Gender and racial gap:

  • 47% of military men vs. 32% of military women view Trump favorably.
  • 51% of non-white vs. 37% of white servicemembers view Trump unfavorably.

(6) How individual military services rate Trump:

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  • Marines (58.9%) view Trump most favorably.
  • Trump is least popular among the Navy (49.3% unfavorable) and the Air Force (45.2%).
  • Retired Marine Maj. Ross Schellhaas, an Iraq and Afghanistan vet, said he thinks Trump’s style may better match with stereotypes of young Marine Corps members than the other services: “I think those young people come from the more conservative regions of our nation and tend to vote that way.” said Schellhaas, an Iraq and Afghanistan vet.

(7) Popularity of Trump’s cabinet:

  • Secretary of Defense James Mattis, retired Marine Corps general, is Trump’s most well-regarded appointee, is especially beloved in the Marine Corps, specifically, and the military at large. More than 84% of troops said they had a favorable view of Mattis, a rare point of agreement among the diverse military communities.
  • Trump’s chief of staff, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, is less well-known among poll respondents but still had a nearly 59% favorable vs. 7% unfavorable rating from troops.


Republished with permission Fellowship of the Minds

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