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Only 43.8 Percent of Military Identify As Republican, Down From 56 Percent In 2005

Memo Pad Politics

Only 43.8 Percent of Military Identify As Republican, Down From 56 Percent In 2005

Military, Politics, Republican, Conservative, Identity, Hawks, Tea Party, Iraq War

The number of military servicemembers self-identifying as Republicans is up slightly from last year’s 41.49 percent to 43.8 percent. But that number is still down more than 10 percent from 2005, when 56 percent of active duty service personnel identified as members of the GOP, according to the Military Times’ annual poll.

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The military is also less conservative than it was seven years ago.

In 2005, a total of 50 percent of respondents described themselves as “conservative” or “very conservative.” The next year that number fell to 44 percent. And in 2012 it hit 42.72 percent, making it slightly more popular than the next most popular group, “moderate,” at 41.54 percent.

Seven years ago, only 33 percent identified themselves as moderate.

The Washington Times’ Shaun Waterman looked at these numbers and suggests that the changes reflect the growth of the Tea Party, which includes some politicians like Rand Paul (R-KY), whose point of view is much less interventionist than Bush-era Republicans. Republicans in Congress have adopted the Tea Party’s willingness to cut defense spending by keeping the sequester cuts in place, even though they hit the military hard.

However, hardline hawks like senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) still play a huge role in shaping the party’s stands on national security issues.

The number of libertarians in the military has more than doubled from 2 percent in 2005 to 5.43 percent in 2012, but there’s nothing “Tea Party” about the growth of moderates.

The steady decline of members of the military identifying as Republican and conservative since 2005 likely reflects some movement toward isolationism. But it likely has more to do with the decline of the right’s historic advantage on national security. This edge began to deteriorate as the war in Iraq turned into a disaster and the progress made against the Taliban in Afghanistan was allowed to wither away.

A majority, 51.14 percent, disapprove of President Obama’s performance as president (while only 44.3 percent disapprove of how he’s handling his role as commander in chief), but in 2012 the president received almost double the amount of military donations that his opponent Mitt Romney took in.

Photo: U.S. Army via Flickr



  1. Sand_Cat March 28, 2013

    Maybe some of them finally realized the Republicans “support” them by throwing away their lives at the drop of a hat and spend billions on toys, leaving the people who use them to subsist on food stamps.

  2. Siegfried Heydrich March 28, 2013

    The Republicans are the ones sending them off to fight and die while cutting funding for their care and that of their families.

  3. John Pigg March 29, 2013

    Through my personal experience my deployments and service significantly altered the nature of my conservatism. I remain extremely critical of interventionist policies and measures, and have become very disillusioned with the GOP.

    I remain conservative but I have ceased to connect with the ideological political conservative brand.

    1. Bill March 29, 2013

      The GOP only worries about spending when they are out of power, whenever they are in power they spend like THERE IS NO TOMORROW, yet in good times and bad they still claim to be CONSERVATIVE.

    2. Ford Truck March 30, 2013

      I agree with much of what you said. I was born and raisied in a blood red Republican home. Then after 8 years in the Marines and 2 tours in ‘Nam I was so disillussioned I wasn’t sure what I was. I now consider myself a fiscal moderate/conservative, and social moderate/liberal.

      1. Bill March 30, 2013

        I also grew up in a Republican home, but the GOP isn’t any thing like it was back then. I also served in Nam only in the Army, good luck to you.

  4. elw March 29, 2013

    I believe the pendulum is swinging to the left. The Republican Party has move too far to the right for most people. I have many friends who call themselves conservative that have moved away for the Republican Party. No matter what the pundits say, this Country is not divided down the middle. Most people in it are moderates who either lean right or left. They are not going to fall apart if same sex marriage is legal and they do not want to lose their rights to birth control or legal abortion.

  5. Lovefacts March 29, 2013

    For years Republicans have preached how strong they are on national security. With their spendthrift manner re corporate welfare and unpaid for wars, the truth is that except for military hardware and two unpaid wars they were largely responsible for where we are today re the debt. And now to save money, the Republicans want to close military and VA hospitals and stop paying VA benefits to our injured veterans but god forbid they cut any weapons programs.

    At last, the military is seeing the truth. Plus, with all their hard work for military families and vets, Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden have helped change the military’s perception of Democrats.

  6. Bill March 29, 2013

    The GOP cares about you while you serve but that ends when you are out of service, they are the first to cut benefits to the VA, they now want to cut the cost of living on Service Related Disability payments just like they want to do on Social Security. The GOP has always been good at sending our sons to war while theirs stay home. The military is looked on as the only way to get ahead for a lot of poor people.

    1. lostintheswamp March 30, 2013

      this is the same as for kids …. zygotes should have all the rights of a person …. hungry and/or homeless babies, they’re on their own …

      1. Ford Truck March 30, 2013

        The Republicans don’t want to give all adults the rights of a person. Why should a zygote have more rights than the rest of us?

  7. howa4x March 29, 2013

    It probably has to do with a number of factors. The advent of more women in the armed services and now gays can serve openly has a moderating effect on the military. Plus in both of our recent wars, troops were deployed on more and more tours and saw benefits cut by the republicans to their families and their injury benefits. They need a rest and the constant bellicose nature of republicans makes them weary.

  8. old_blu March 29, 2013

    I expect a few misinformed ones still thinking they are republican, but that still seems like a lot after the republicans blocked the veterans job bill. *scatches head*

    1. neeceoooo March 29, 2013

      It does make you wonder

    2. ralphkr March 30, 2013

      Looking back at when I was in the service I am sure the current servicemen are all busy blaming the Democrats for the veterans job bill being killed. I remember when the Democrats passed a bill raising the military pay across the board (not just the generals) my fellows credited their raise to Republicans and complained that if it were not for the Democrats it would have been more because Republicans always passed huge defense bills. For some reason the military doesn’t notice that the big money in Republican bills is going to contractors and not to them.

      1. old_blu March 30, 2013

        Exactly! I know what you are saying, and thank you for your service.

      2. progressiveandproud March 30, 2013

        I wish to God you were kidding, but I’m sick to know you’re not kidding a bit.

  9. Corey Spofford March 29, 2013

    As soon as I read ‘McCain’ in any article I read no further, until the article headline states “McCain retires” I might read on

  10. progressiveandproud March 30, 2013

    People supporting immoral, opportunist, traitors while fighting in foreign countries to overthrow, in many cases, duly elected leaders. What are those military personnel thinking?

    Perhaps listening to Rush Limbaugh on tax-supported military radio has an influence?

  11. James O Donnell March 30, 2013

    And less than 10% identify as Democrats.

    Keep telling yourselves the troops are “on your side.”

    We’re not.

  12. John Bryant August 7, 2016

    Only 20% of present members of Congress have ever served in the military. This is a heavily Republican Congress during a period when sabre rattling is at an all time high.

    1. Mark Johnson November 11, 2016

      Did you serve in the military in a combat unit?

  13. John Bryant August 7, 2016

    After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a survey found that, out of 100 members of The Senate, only one had a son that volunteered and was serving in Iraq. That one was Senator Tim Johnson, a Democrat from South Dakota.

    1. John Bryant August 7, 2016

      A later survey showed that two House members had sons serving as officers. On Democrat, and One Republican. So, 3 out of 535 members of Congress are willing to send their own children to do what they EXPECT the rest of us to do.

      1. Mark Johnson November 11, 2016

        Willing to send? Children of elected officials in America are now their property bereft of choice? That’s what your implying. The military is an all volunteer fighting force. Politicians in Washington cannot order their children into military service. Any more unoriginal strokes of genius left in that pill box you call a brain?

  14. Adam Steve September 8, 2016

    Wow, that’s amazing, only a handful, maybe 5 or 6 out of several hundred are democrats in my unit.

    1. Rayboy Usmc September 27, 2016

      No, they just don’t tell you. They know what the majority are and it’s not worth arguing about over unit cohesion.

  15. Mark Johnson November 11, 2016

    If you’re in a combat unit, the guys that are actually doing the fighting you know everything about the soldiers you risk your life for day-in and day-out. Conservatives outnumber liberals by 8-1. The term Republican is not relevant when researching an article like this. Are you conservative or liberal? Most independents fall into the conservative category since most being in the military are pro-gun. Conservatives have been fighting for the rights of each and every American since the dawn of this nation at a disproportionate level that is quite staggering compared to their liberal counterpart. Liberals don’t join the military, it’s beneath them. When liberals do join the military assigned to a combat brigade the unit ends up with Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.


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