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"The Troops Have Spoken"

| 33 Comments | 6 TrackBacks

There's been a lot of justifiable concern about the strain that the war in Iraq has placed on the US Army and especially on the families of Reservists and National Guardsmen who've been called up for duty overseas. So I was interested to see that this week's Army Times has the results of an election survey among 31,000 active duty, Reserve and National Guard troops who subscribe to the AT or one of its sister publications (Navy Times, etc.). The poll was taken by email during the period Sept 21-28 of this year.

The Army Times is an independent newspaper devoted to news and info for soldiers and their families. The online report is for paid subscribers only, so I thought I'd post the results as I read them in the print copy. The results might not be fully representative of military opinion, because they were submitted voluntarily by those who gave email addresses to the publisher when they subscribed rather than being drawn via an independent random selection.

The sample group is a bit older than the military at large and contains a higher percentage of officers, and therefore may under-represent Democrats as a result. Nonetheless, some of the results may surprise many readers.

The respondents were broken down into two groups: Active Duty (AD) troops and Reserve / National Guard (RN) troops. (Apologies for the formatting, I don't have time to set up an html table for this right now.)

If the presidential elections were held today, for whom would you vote?

Bush: AD- 72%, RN-73%
Kerry: AD- 17%, RN-18%
Nader: AD- 1%, RN-1%
Other: AD- 1%, RN-1%
Declined to answer: AD- 2%, RN-1%

Among Active Duty who were deployed 2 or more months since 9/11, the percentage for Bush goes up to 74%. Among the Reserve / National Guard deployed for 2 or more months since 9/11 (whether in a combat zone or elsewhere), Bush gets 76% of the vote.

When asked "What are the most important issues of you in deciding for whom you will vote for president?", the answers were:

The war in Iraq: AD-66%, RN-72%
The character of the candidate: AD-64%, RN-66%
The economy: AD-53%, RN-58%
Social issues: AD-34%, RN-36%
None of the above: AD-4%, RN-3%

Do you approve of the way President Bush is handling the situation in Iraq?

Approve: AD-60%, RN-63%
Disapprove: AD-23%, RN-25%
No opinion: AD-8%, RN-5%
Declined to answer: AD-8%, RN-6%

A few things stand out about these numbers. First, I don't think anyone can claim that the military are puppets who salute and vote for whomever is in the White House. Furthermore, the Army Times notes that many military have chafed under Rumsfeld's criticisms and policies, which may be one reason support for Bush's handling of Iraq is a bit softer than for re-electing him.

On the question of Vietnam in this election, neither Kerry's service nor Bush's is a big issue for the respondents in this poll. But Kerry's anti-war activities when he got home clearly is.

In making your decision about voting for president, how important is the military service record of the candidates?
Very important: AD-12%, RN-16%
Somewhat important: AD - 47%, RN-54%
No opinion: AD-19%, RN-8%
Somewhat unimportant: AD-19%, RN-14%
Very unimportant: AD- 10%, RN-7%

Do George W. Bush's actions while in the National Guard make you more or less likely to vote for him - or will they not have much effect on your vote?
More likely: AD-6%, RN-10%
Less likely: AD-12%, RN-16%
Not much effect: AD-73%, RN-68%
No opinion: AD-8%, RN-5%

Does John Kerry's combat experience in the Vienam War make you more or less likely to vote for him - or will they not have much effect on your vote?
More likely: AD-12%, RN-15%
Less likely: AD-21%, RN-26%
Not much effect: AD-58%, RN-53%
No opinion: AD-7%, RN-5%

Do John Kerry's anti-war activities after he returned from serving in the Vienam War make you more or less likely to vote for him - or will they not have much effect on your vote?

More likely: AD-7%, RN-9%
Less likely: AD-65%, RN-67%
Not much effect: AD-24%, RN-20%
No opinion: AD-3%, RN-2%

6 TrackBacks

Tracked: October 7, 2004 5:26 AM
Who do the troops support? from Sister Toldjah
Excerpt: Winds of Change links up to an Army Times survey of 31,000 active duty, Reserve and National Guard troops who subscribe to the Army Times or the other military times which asks questions about who they would support and what would make them more or l...
Tracked: October 7, 2004 5:44 AM
Who do the troops support? from Sister Toldjah
Excerpt: Winds of Change links up to an Army Times survey of 31,000 active duty, Reserve and National Guard troops who subscribe to the Army Times or the other military times which asks questions about who they would support and what would make them more or l...
Tracked: October 7, 2004 6:51 AM
FLAWED AND MAYBE ACCURATE from Begging To Differ
Excerpt: The Army Times conducted a survey of 31,000 active duty, Reserve and National Guard troops who subscribe to the paper on their views of the upcoming election. Robin Burk has the results at Winds of Change. Those interviewed support President...
Tracked: October 7, 2004 10:59 PM
Polling the troops from CenterFeud
Excerpt: Since war and military issues are front and center this election, it might be interesting to know how the people in the line of fire are responding to the candidates. The Army Times, an independent newspaper, polled 31,000 soldiers, both Active Duty an...
Tracked: November 2, 2004 2:29 AM
In Which They Serve from Shot In The Dark
Excerpt: If the vote were limited to those serving in the military (as it was in Switzerland until not so long ago), it'd be a Bush landslide:The respondents were broken down into two groups: Active Duty (AD) troops and Reserve /...
Tracked: November 2, 2004 2:17 PM
The Military Results from Dean's World
Excerpt: The poll of Active Duty and Reserve/National Guard troops has been released, and their support for President Bush is overwhelming. Here are the results: Bush: AD- 72%, RN-73% Kerry: AD- 17%, RN-18% Nader: AD-...

33 Comments

"First, I don't think anyone can claim that the military are puppets who salute and vote for whomever is in the White House."

Do you really think your opinion on this carries any weight when it should be possible to find out whether this is true or not by looking back at similar past polls?

Prove your statement or admit the possibility that the troops will support their commander-in-chief whoever he may be.

Well, a quarter of the respondents in this poll, which is based on a large sample, don't support Bush with regard to his handling of Iraq. Considering that Iraq is an ongoing operation right now, that's significant evidence I think.

Yes, but that 24% could also think that his policies of engagement are not vigourous enough. The question was not "Do you disapprove of our presence in Iraq?" Or "Should we leave as soon as possible?".

Yeah, Robin. Everybody knows the troops supported Clinton by 7-1 levels.

V.T. -

Bob Dole easily won the overseas military vote in 1996. You can look up the numbers yourself.

I guess when Clinton was Commander in Chief he forgot to order the military to vote for him. And then he forgot to order them to vote for Gore in 2000, so the Gore campaign had to go through all that hassle of trying to disqualify as many military absentee ballots as possible.

Richard, I think your comment was for Vesicle Trafficker, no?

My own experience as the wife of a retired active duty officer, and as one who currently works among active duty officers, is that there is far more diversity of political opinion, and far more subtlty of policy opinion, among the military than most people realize. But since that anecdotal evidence won't mean much to VT, I'll stick to the numbers like the ones I've reported here.

BTW - the military vote gave George Bush the state of Florida, and therefore the presidency, in 2000. Without the military absentee ballots, Gore would have won Florida by 200 votes.

Robin,

Sorry, I forgot the /sarcasm>.

"But since that anecdotal evidence won't mean much to VT..."

Or to anyone else who wants to look at this critically.

It is curious, Robin, that you can produce reams of data to support your point but choose to back up the one critical flaw in your argument with heresay.

One of the dangers in data interpretation is when a set of facts confirms a pre-exising bias or opinion (based on, say, anectodal evidence), because it can lead to a less critical evaluation of the data on its merits. In this case, the offhanded dismissal of a major confounding influence on your favored interpretation.

As it happens, my current doctoral seminar has just spent time examining the issue of how to validate surveys and other data collection instruments to avoid bias and unintended assumptions. There is a sophisticated body of professional knowledge regarding how to validate surveys.

Clearly, the Army Times didn't do that for this survey. Neither, by the way, do polling organizations. That's because it's a very difficult and time-consuming thing to do well. There are 5 dimensions on which data collection instruments must be validated for the instrument as a whole to be demonstrably and totally valid, and each one requires significant work (including pre- and pilot testing the instrument against known populations and preforming co-variance analysis on the results).

This is sufficiently difficult and time consuming that even rigorous academic research doesn't always clear the hurdle.

A recent research journal article looked at peer-reviewed articles in the most prestigious journals in Information Science over the last 25 years. The authors found that only a small minority of the researchers fully validated their data collection instruments prior to commencing the research proper. Validation in certain other social sciences is higher, but nothing like universal.

With the availability of sophisticated software and Structural Equation Modeling techniques (ways to do several of the 5 validations in parallel with one another), more IS researchers are at least partially validating their collection instruments and mentioning the validation approach in their reseach papers. But it by no means is the norm yet.

Is it realistic to expect that a newspaper would take a year and hire (rare) experts to validate a survey about election preferences? Note that some of the questions (Kerry's Vietnam and anti-war activities, Bush's National Guard service) couldn't even be predicted a year ago.

I'm afraid we're stuck with less than theoretically pure surveys for most purposes. That said, we certainly can and should look at the questions asked and the composition of the sample when we decide how much to trust the results of a poll.

Even better, the Army Times has said that it will make the data available to serious researchers. So VT, you or others can contact them, analyze the raw data and let us know what you find. I'd be interested in the results, but haven't anything like the time to do it myself. I can point you towards online information about survey validation if you like, however.

Robin;

I'm glad you will acknowledge this major limitation in your data analysis.

Your comments on data collection methodologies are interesting and clearly demonstrate that you have a lot to say on the subject, but even more they make me wonder why you do not choose to put what you teach into practice.

I'm not necessarily suggesting I know where the additional analysis would take the numbers. It may very well be that there is still a majority for Bush, but it may be much less when "commander-in-chief" biases or other issues that you raise are factored in. Perhaps, since this would tend to lessen the impact of your post, you do not feel compelled to research this point further, although I understand that you are too busy to do this. I am unable to do this myself for the same reason. I'm in the data generating business myself.

Having served in the military for 25 years I can speak to this question. No, the military does not vote monolithically. However, since the Carter mess career military have leaned strongly towards Republicans for several reasons. First was the stark contrast between Carter's administration which underfunded the military and Reagan's buildup. I am honest enough to admit that my advancements were made easier by the fact that we were building towards a 600 ship Navy. Second reason was the clear difference between Bush 41's WW II service and Clinton's maneuvers to avoid the draft and his comment about loathing the military. The military is a segment of society which values honor and character and the last so many candidates from the left have been lacking in these areas.

LargeBill;

"The military is a segment of society which values honor and character and the last so many candidates from the left have been lacking in these areas."

This of course cannot explain their (alleged) preference of GW Bush over Kerry, given Bush's past service record and dishonest means of presenting the Iraq conflict to them and to the public at large, his inabiity to admit his own errors, and hostility to opposing viewpoints. Major character flaws all.

As far as supporting the troops, he himself threatened to veto the $87 billion supplemental aid to fund overseas operations in Iraq & Afghanistan unless some additional provisions that were added in committee (including VA medical care) were removed, thereby putting political principles ahead of national security (as he accuses Kerry of doing).

VT, you clearly are not willing to read what I wrote carefully -- or, you don't want to admit the clear point.

Your comments on data collection methodologies are interesting and clearly demonstrate that you have a lot to say on the subject, but even more they make me wonder why you do not choose to put what you teach into practice.

As I carefully explained above, proving that a survey is totally unbiased and proving that the correlations it demonstrates are valid and cannot be explained by other factors is incredibly difficult and timeconsuming even for rigorous academic research.

Given that this standard is simply never applied to other opinion polls, the only conclusion I can draw is that it pisses you off to learn a substantial majority of the reservists and national guardsmen who responded to this poll have responded to their combat experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan with a strong resolve to vote for Bush.

Sorry if that bursts your bubble, but there it is.

And no, you cannot infer from this thread or my posts how I will vote in November.

Shorter VT -

All the military people who gave the wrong answer and support George W. Bush must be idiots unduly influenced by slavish loyalty to their Maximum Leader, rather than the thought processes that enlightened people like me use.

Oh, and Bush lied!

---

LargeBill's generalization re: honor et. al. is pretty broad-brush, and may or may not be so. At least he has a base of anecdotal data from people he knows that suggests this may be so - weak, but something. VT has nothing, from the top of this thread on down.

Actually he has something - unfortunately, it's thinly-veiled contempt.

Making a different argument would require VT to grant the military people who don't support his candidate some respect. Much easier to just slander them as unthinking robots with no evidence whatsoever, and ignore even obvious anecdotal arguments (Clinton vs. Dole 96) that would make a normal person question their own thesis.

Along similar lines, the idea that others might express the values LargeBill mentions, and do so by making relative evaluations or disqualifying his candidate, "can't be it". Really? So definitive, and again, none of the evidence he seems so fond of asking for is present to back that up. Which is fortunate, because even basic conjecture like the possibility at the beginning of this paragraph demonstrates that compatible explanations exist.

But the fact that making decisions in a military environment is entirely about decisions under less than ideal circumstances would never occur to VT as a starting point for explanations of their behaviour or choices, even though it might suggest useful lines of inquiry. He'd have to understand something about the environment first in order to consider that, and listening is not his specialty.

VT, you certainly are in the data generation business - but in this case, it seems to be anecdotal data that would help to explain the results Robin notes above. A party whose activists behave this way, and characterize military voters this way, and then invent other explanations for their party's lack of support in the military community... that's pretty funny. And explains a lot, come to think of it.

I'll add one minor quibble with Robin's post... the troops won't have really spoken until the ballots are cast and tallied.

At the same time, subject to all of the usual caveats and skepticism one should bring to political polls, this is an interesting and useful piece of data. Thanks, Robin.

"As I carefully explained above, proving that a survey is totally unbiased and proving that the correlations it demonstrates are valid and cannot be explained by other factors is incredibly difficult and timeconsuming even for rigorous academic research."

"...the only conclusion I can draw is that it pisses you off."

Actually I'm not "pissed off" at all, I'm just questioning your methodology and conclusions. As I stated clearly above, I think it is likely that there might still be a majority for Bush but it could well be lower (even much lower) than these polls indicate if you factor in a potential source of bias. As an academic I don't see why this would prompt you to respond so boldly.

This, I think, is a useful point to make, even if has again inspired apoplexy in Joe as my posts so often do.

I can think of another explanation, however. Suppose Republicans became aware of this poll, which was done on the internet, and sent out emails to registered Republicans serving in the armed forces to strongly encourage them to respond accordingly.

Do you not concede that this is possible?

This kind of thing probably happens frequently. The other night after Atrios sent people all around after the VP debate to vote on the winner, some sites were registering as high as 95% for Edwards. 72% support for Bush by military is an awfully high number for an unbiased sample across any non-political category, most or all I have seen have been much closer. A healthy dose of skepticism given this observation is typical for evaluating data points.

That's where I'm coming from. I'm not asking for absolute proof, only that you acknowledge a potentially significant confounding interpretation in a manner that goes beyond throwing up your hands and claiming how difficult it is to "prove" anything, accusing me of being unhappy with the results, or using anecdotes. This would not of course pass muster in a professional academic setting (and although this place is far from that, you do draw heavily on your academic credentials to lend credibility to the opinions you express here).

In fact, couldn't your argument that polls cannot be trusted or proven unbiased be used to argue that they should not be used to draw conclusions?

If you disagree with this, then answer the following question. Since, as I said above and you'll probably agree, 72% support for Bush is a higher number than most other polls I have seen. So it is an atypical result. What is your explanation for this?

Joe;

I really do not want to be drawn into these kinds of disagreements with you all the time but I really canít let this one go.

"Shorter VT- All the military people who gave the wrong answer and support George W. Bush must be idiots unduly influenced by slavish loyalty to their Maximum Leader, rather than the thought processes that enlightened people like me use."

Here you presume that my skepticism must be based on my rabid partisanship, or worse tries to insinuate that I don't respect those serving in the military simply because I questioned the validity of a poll or expressed strong skepticism of an opinion. You Republicans love to try to claim the military as your own, and it's both ridiculous and offensive at the same time.

"Much easier to just slander them as unthinking robots...".

Joe, members of my immediate family and close personal friends have served in the US military during war and peacetime and have made many sacrifices for this country. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for those who are brave enough to serve in our military, anywhere in the world, including Iraq. So I see no reason to take this kind of insult from anyone, especially a Canadian.

Re: Joe's comment on the title for this article, I simply used the cover page headline that the Army Times used for the story. Sorry for not making that clear.

I can think of another explanation, however. Suppose Republicans became aware of this poll, which was done on the internet, and sent out emails to registered Republicans serving in the armed forces to strongly encourage them to respond accordingly. Do you not concede that this is possible?

All sorts of things may be theoretically possible while still being highly unlikely in the real world. Consider what would have to be true for your scenario to obtain. First, the Republican party would need to know about the poll. Second, they would have to know which registered Republicans are in the military. Third, they would have to know the names and email addresses of the 31,000 people invited to respond to the survey. Alternately, they could have sent a message to every one of the registered Republicans in the military -- but that would mean they would have to know they ARE military (or send an email to every Republican in the country).

Keep in mind that there are over 1 million men and women in our armed services.

We have a fair number of military readers here at WOC and some of them may be registered Repubs. Anybody here get such a message?

Assuming (for now) that they did not, then that leaves the other scenario, namely that the Republican party got its hands on the Army Times list of potential respondents AND knew which ones are Republicans or would vote republican this time around.

I suppose one could fantasize a world in which a publishing business (the parent Military Times company which publishes the Army Times, Navy Times etc.) would pass along its subscription base info this way. Not something a business does often, but possible.

A real stumbling block for this scenario is the fact that many military choose not to register with a political party until they retire from service. Tommy Franks was not uncommon that way. Our professional military prides itself both on political control of the military and also on preserving its independence from political activity in the ranks. (As some readers might have guessed, my employment by the Army is one reason I did not pursue accreditation or attend either convention this year as a blogger, despite the fact that I live within an hour of NYC and an afternoon drive of Boston.)

So while it is hard to prove a negative (i.e. that the Republicans didn't somehow seed the poll results) I'm hard put to imagine a credible scenario for that happening.

If you disagree with this, then answer the following question. Since, as I said above and you'll probably agree, 72% support for Bush is a higher number than most other polls I have seen. So it is an atypical result. What is your explanation for this?

That's easy to answer. Why would you think a poll of military WOULD exactly parallel that of society at large? As a subset of society, the military services are not typical of Americans in other ways, either.

They are, generally, in better physical shape.

Those in the combat arms, in particular, are willing to risk violent death in ways that many citizens avoid.

They are more likely to be active religiously, across a wide range of faiths and denominations, than the public is right now.

They -- and especially the officers -- have spent a long time studying and debating the moral, practical and legal issues surrounding the use of military force. Indeed, they cannot escape continuing to do so throughout their careers -- it is a requirement.

These differences are particularly strong when we compare career active duty military to the general population. They are probably less strong for reservists and national guardsmen.

Which is why I was struck by the reported results of the Army Times poll.

One other comment:

if by "most other polls" VT meant, not polls of all voters but polls of miltary members, then I would want to know when, where and how those were conducted, and the results they reported, before commenting on any differences between them and the poll I reported.

V.T. -

"Here you presume that my skepticism must be based on my rabid partisanship, or worse tries to insinuate that I don't respect those serving in the military simply because I questioned the validity of a poll or expressed strong skepticism of an opinion ..."

Come off it. You asserted "the possibility that the troops will support their commander-in-chief whoever he may be" and then you demanded that Robin prove you wrong.

Since there is obvious evidence that runs contrary to your assertion, I think the proof is up to you.

Robin;

OK, I will agree that "poll stuffing" is not likely to account for significant result skewing in either direction.

However, your explanation for the 72% result does not provide any insight. Instead, you simply list a number of things that make people in the military different from the "average" person. But which of these qualities in particular do you think explain the pro-Bush skew of the results?

For example, do you think that people that are generally in better shape tend to support Bush? This seems unlikely.

Do you think being active religiously across a wide variety of faiths explains this? Certainly within some specific faiths (say Southern baptist) this might be true, but Muslims? There are plenty in the military.

Simply republishing data without analysis does not contribute much to the discussion and is far below even the minimal academic standards.

And you base this assertion on what, VT?

Simply republishing data without analysis does not contribute much to the discussion and is far below even the minimal academic standards.

In my own field of study there are highly regarded theorists who firmly believe that, since it is a rather new field, researchers should devote the next few decades to gathering and publishing, with minimal analysis, data from careful studies.

Others advocate a range of different approaches to research and the evolution and testing of theories. One such approach, grounded theory, is qualitative and based on the analysis of emerging themes from unstructured interviews with many participants in an organization or community. (See: Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory, Strauss & Corbin. You can find it on Amazon if you're interested.)

I am certainly qualified to stand as one member of the extended military community. I grew up with many combat veteran relatives, some of them career NCOs. An uncle who is close to me, and is also my godfather, was highly decorated at the Battle of the Bulge; another was in the first wave of paratroopers at Normandy; my father was badly wounded as a naval air gunner and in fact, of the 9 sons and 1 son in law in my father's family who were old enough to fight in WWII, 9 enlisted and 8 saw combat. Among my generation, multiple cousins were career officers in various services and several close relatives served in Vietnam.

I married a career Air Force officer, and for the last few years I've taught at West Point.

So one might think that anecdotes &/or assertions I make about common practices and attitudes among our military would carry some credibility in a discussion about military political attitudes.

Not, apparently, with you VT .....

So you don't want uninterpreted data and you don't want personal experience, but you do want my opinions and analysis about the reasons for the poll results -- while also saying the data collection was flawed, thereby opening any such analysis to immediate challenge?

Sorry. That kind of game can be fun but not tonight ....

More importantly, you have probably noted that in general I avoid taking positions on most political and policy issues. Why do you suppose that is?

(Hint: If you read my earlier comments I pretty much spell it out for you.)

I'm afraid that for now and the immediate future I will restrict myself to passing along data and assertions of others with little comment (as I did here), and to personal memories of people I admire (as I did with Beate Ruhm von Oppen recently). If that bores you, there certainly are other others on this blog and across the blogosphere whom you might find of greater interest.

do you think that people that are generally in better shape tend to support Bush? This seems unlikely

I didn't lump the military in with all others who are in good shape. Most civilians who keep themselves in excellent aerobic shape and muscle strength do so for personal reasons, but in the Army being in shape is a duty that is directly related to the miltary mission.

It's also probably worth remembering that in the late 1980s, many people (including senior military leaders) were concerned about alienation of some military from the general society. Sometimes that alienation, where it existed, was expressed as contempt for slovenly appearance and undisciplined habits. A fair amount of leadership attention was given to reinforcing a sense of military-civilian connectedness within military personnel in response to that alienation. In part that was done by noting that the physical discipline of soldiers doesn't make them better people, just better prepared for the jobs they must do.

Do you think being active religiously across a wide variety of faiths explains this? Certainly within some specific faiths (say Southern baptist) this might be true, but Muslims? There are plenty in the military

Indeed there are. There's a Muslim chaplain IIRC at West Point. There are also Buddhists in our military too, along with Catholics, Eastern Orthodox christians, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Mormons and Jews, plus of course those with no religous affiliation at all. The last figures I saw did not mention much Hindu presence, however....

But I find it odd, VT, that you avoid citing the two other differences I mention which many would associate most directly with the military and with these poll results.

First, the willingness of military to engage in violence, or the credible threat of violence, in response to national policy articulated by the President and Congress and at their direction, and to risk death or maiming in so doing.

And second, deep study and consideration of the practical, moral and legal issues associated with the use or the credible threat of such violence.

Those do differentiate the military (and especially officers) from many in the general civilian population. What do you think, VT: might these have either a causal relationship to the Army Times poll results or, at least, a credible correlation with them?

And what to make of the poll results showing strong support for this administration among those who have recently seen combat? Could it be that their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined with their professional training and outlook, have something to do with their poll response?

Robin;

"In my own field of study there are highly regarded theorists who firmly believe that, since it is a rather new field, researchers should devote the next few decades to gathering and publishing, with minimal analysis, data from careful studies."

So are you now saying this is a careful study?

Like I said, I want to know what you think explains the numbers in this particular poll, which you readily admit has some major methodological flaws. Given your resume you should be able to come up with something. Saying you are trying to keep above the partisan frey doesn't really cut it.

"So one might think that anecdotes &/or assertions I make about common practices and attitudes among our military would carry some credibility in a discussion about military political attitudes."

I'm not challenging your credibility. I am challenging your assertions, asking for further proof, and questioning your reasons for dismissing certain alternative ways of looking at the data you presented. If you choose not to plug some big holes in your argument that's fine, but don't suggest your resume is some kind of magic cork.

"And what to make of the poll results showing strong support for this administration among those who have recently seen combat? Could it be that their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined with their professional training and outlook, have something to do with their poll response?"

There is nothing in this data that even hints at such an interpretation. Do you know what proportion of the respondents served in Iraq or Afghanistan? You already point out that the sample is probably weighted toward officers. What I'd find a hell of a lot more credible is the opinions of the grunts and others who are really doing the dirty work on the ground and are bearing the brunt of the violence over there...how many officers have been killed or injured in Iraq, e.g.? How many soldiers have written home to complain about lack of body and vehicle armor? You think these guys are responding to e-mail surveys???

If this sample is indeed as skewed toward non-combat servicemembers as it might be, it would be highly dishonest, outrageous even, to suggest that it accurately reflects the opinions of those who have seen real combat.

I'd like to see what soldiers are saying in their letters home about the war and the President.

which you readily admit has major methodological flaws

Nope. I didn't say that -- although you keep trying to do so.

There is nothing in this data that even hints at such an interpretation

Well, actually there is. "More than 2 months in a combat zone since 9/11."

In point of fact, the Military Times poll shows many characteristics of a well-executed poll. The sample size was large and diverse. It covered enlisted, NCOs and officers and it covered Army, Air Force and Navy personnel. The questions asked are even-handed and neutral.

And the publishers are making the actual raw data available to serious researchers. How often do you get to examine the raw data from Pew or other polls?

I think it's pretty clear, VT, what you really object to are the results of the poll. Your continued attempt to downplay any significance the poll results have by quibbling with me ("major methodological flaws", "big holes", "skewed") is pretty telling.

As Joe points out, what will count in the end is how people (including military) actually vote. To fight this poll so fiercely is ... silly. Or desperate. Or some such. But have at it some more if you like.

Or, even better:

VT, why not get the raw data from the Army Times and check out the responses yourself? It's not hard to find information on the actual percentages of officers, NCOs and enlisted in each of the services, so you can answer your questions about the sample in detail.

I'd be glad to post your analysis in a separate article here on WOC.

"To fight this poll so fiercely is ... silly. Or desperate. Or some such."

You are trying to classify my challenges as "fighting the poll". I stated in one of my first posts that I do not doubt there is probably a pro-Bush tilt within the military. So, to reiterate:

1) I am challenging the strength of the numbers. This is a purely academic excercise that is no more partisan than your posting of the numbers.

2) I am asking you or anyone to explain them to me.

You continually demure on the latter point especially.

I am asking you or anyone to explain them to me. You continually demure on the latter point especially

Yup. The raw data are there for you to examine yourself if you feel it's so important. I've even offered you space here on WOC to tell us the results of your analysis. If you seriously care about those questions, you have all the resources you need to answer them for yourself.

Here's another poll of military showing a preference for Bush, but not as strongly skewed as the AT one.

More data from Kos regarding a Zogby breakdown which puts it at a dead heat with those identifying themselves as being in the Armed services.

So this AT poll is looking more and more like an outlyer if anything. Too bad Robin doesn't want to take a crack at explaining why this might be the case.

Please make a correction on the paraphrasing of the original Army Times info.

Looks like Army Times sent out 31,000 invites and 4,100 folks responded. That isn't really a poll of 31,000, is it?

http://www.armytimes.com/print.php?f=1-292925-383722.php

fascinating. well done dude!

A few words about the validity of the poll, as an active duty officer I can tell you that it is right on, everyone I associate with is absolutely against John Kerry. We discussed this at length the other day as to why with us being a microcosm of society we would see things in a differant light than people who have never been in the military. What we came up with was:
1. Things totally sucked under clinton, I mean bad. Lots of guys see that coming back.
2. We are exposed to leadership from the beginning and often thrust into leadership positions at a young age, we see lots of real leadership skills in President Bush. We see almost none of these in Kerry.
3. We also have had the opportunity to work for or have witnessed poor leaders up close, we see many of those qualities in Kerry. I.E. Blaming other people, opportunism, changing positions.
4. Probably the most important and hardest to understand for civilians is the fact that we are actually being utilized for important missions, nothing is more demoralizing than to drill and drill nonstop and never apply what you practice, even though it may be dangerous the military would rather be being used than be waitng around.
5. His war protestor stuff really bothers most of us, we take oaths and are expected to uphold them, very few military people respect anyone who does not follow thier oath. It is a big deal, I think the survey showed that.
Darrell

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