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Poll Shows Support for Bush in Military

Times Staff Writer

Members of the military and their families overwhelmingly support President Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq and are more positive about the economy and the direction of the country than other voters are, a new national poll has found.

Asked by the University of Pennsylvania’s National Annenberg Election Survey whom they would trust as commander in chief, military service members and their families chose Bush over Sen. John F. Kerry by almost 3 to 1. Among all Americans, Bush is more narrowly favored on this question, by 50% to 41%.

About 69% of respondents in the Annenberg poll, which surveyed 655 service members and their families in every state, said they had a favorable opinion of Bush -- 29% had a favorable opinion of Kerry. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The results of the poll are significant not only for what they show about the political leanings of military men and women, but for the light they shed on the military vote, historically a subject of some mystery.

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Restrictions on polling at military bases are so tight and rules for asking service members their political views are so cumbersome that pollsters have generally given up.

During the last year, the Annenberg Survey got around the restrictions by gathering telephone numbers of people who told survey takers that they were members of the military or had family members who were. The pollsters called those people back between Sept. 22 and Oct. 5 with questions geared specifically to members of the military.

A 1948 law prohibits polling members of the military about their voting intent, and the Annenberg Survey did not ask the military respondents whom they supported for president.

An analysis of contributions from members of the military to the presidential race, compiled for The Times by Dwight L. Morris & Associates, a campaign finance research and analysis firm based in Virginia, appears to support the conclusion that service members approve of Bush more than they do of Kerry. As of Aug. 31, military contributions to Bush totaled $274,458, and to Kerry, $163,075.

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While 64% of the military sample said the situation in Iraq had been worth going to war over, only 55% of those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan said the Iraq war had been worth it.

The military sample was split on whether Bush had a clear plan for a solution in Iraq, with 47% saying he had a plan and 48% saying he did not. But that rating was better than Bush did with the general population, 38% of which said he had a plan and 56% of which said he did not.

Across the board, the poll found that people in the military had a far more favorable view of Bush and were more optimistic about the war in Iraq than Americans in general. The military sample gave Bush an advantage on caring, leadership, shared values, consistency and optimism. The sample found that members of the military and their families were also more optimistic about the economy and the nation’s direction.

About 43% of the military sample said they were Republicans, while 19% called themselves Democrats and 27% independents.

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Historically, military turnout in elections has been low. With more than 400,000 troops overseas now, many living in difficult and dangerous conditions, it is uncertain whether those who want to vote this fall will succeed.

On Friday, Bush campaign officials told reporters they were concerned that delays by some states in printing and mailing absentee ballots could make it impossible for many deployed service members to vote.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

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Military contributions

Contributions from members of the Defense Department and the four branches of the military to President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry as of Aug. 31.

*--* Bush Kerry Defense Department $89,995 $27,200 Army $65,816 $56,350 Navy $52,760 $46,825 Air Force $52,537 $30,950 Marines $13,350 $1,750 Total $274,458 $163,075

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Source: Dwight L. Morris & Associates

Los Angeles Times


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