US military voters still favor Trump and Johnson, but only because most soldiers are men

If only male servicemembers are polled, Trump wins handily. If only women, it’s Clinton.
If only male servicemembers are polled, Trump wins handily. If only women, it’s Clinton.
Image: AP Photo/John Locher
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

In Sep. 2016, the Military Times published a poll showing how US military servicemembers intended to cast their vote in the November presidential election. Surprisingly, Libertarian Gary Johnson took the lead, followed closely by Republican candidate Donald Trump, with Democrat Hillary Clinton trailing a distant third.

In a follow-up poll, Trump has emerged as the “clear favorite” among military voters at 40.5%, surpassing Johnson by more than 13 points, despite recently surfaced allegations of sexual assault.

But that’s not the whole story. Media reports of Trump’s past behavior toward women has substantially impacted his favorability among female servicemembers. Clinton now leads women in the military by 10 points, surpassing Trump’s favorability in the September poll.

“Trump perpetuates ‘the boys will be boys’ mentality that does not reflect current military culture,” one female Army master sergeant told the Military Times. “It’s both dangerous and disrespectful.”

The growth in support for Trump among military servicemembers is probably thanks to its disproportionate number of men compared with the general population. As of 2015, women constituted only 15% of the US military. And as noted by a number of media outlets, Hillary Clinton leads Trump considerably nationwide among female voters. FiveThirtyEight averaged 12 national polls and concluded she leads by as much as 15 points, while Trump leads men by a margin of 5.

Still, as established in the Sep. 2016 poll, both major-party candidates remain largely disliked by most servicemembers. Only 4% of troops polled said they have “abundant confidence that Clinton can lead the military as commander in chief,” according to the Military Times report. About 9% reported confidence in Trump. More than 60% said they had little confidence in either.