According to this ABC news piece, many choose Obama:
ABC’s Martha Raddatz asked American soldiers in Iraq what issues are most important to them when looking at the presidential candidates.
A look at the key political issues for U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
Though the military is not supposed to engage in partisan political activity, these soldiers spoke out about their personal endorsements, and their opinions are likely to matter. In 2004, 73 percent of the U.S. military voted for a presidential candidate, and officials believe it may be even higher this time around.
PFC Jeremy Slate said he supported Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., because of his stated intention to pull out of Iraq right away.
“That would be nice,” Slate said, “I’d like to be home, yea.”
SFC Patricia Keller also expressed support for Obama, citing his representation for change.
While I am glad many choose Obama, I generally think this sort of journalism is stupid and pointless, and watching liberals rush to promote it will be just as irritating as it is when right-wing blogs try to claim that the troops are overwhelmingly Republican. I understand the desire to pushback against the popular meme that the troops are all right-wing, but it is just that- a meme. As such, pushback against stupidity generally leads to more stupidity (as a reference, see the vast majority of the posts on this blog written by some idiot named John Cole).
Regardless, since we are dealing with unprovable generalities and anecdotes, let me offer my own. When I was active, I found that most of the troops were apolitical. When political influences were obvious, officers tended to trend more Republican, the enlisted tended to be more Democratic, but all of them were more “conservative” than the country at large. And when I say conservative, I don’t mean what conservative seems to mean today (a fetish for the fetus, tax cuts at all costs, and getting wood when discussing the prospect of permanent war.). I mean conservative in the sense that they were resistant to change. This isn’t very shocking, because every time there was a change of any type in the Army (at least while I was in), more ofthen than not we were getting screwed. There is a reason every one in the service knows what BOHICA means, and you get used to it after a while and develop a healthy aversion to change.
At any rate, back to the point at hand- I really don’t place much stock in the ABC piece. It is parsimonious in the sense that it would seem logical that troops on their third, fourth, and fifth tour of getting shot at and dodging IED’s might prefer the candidate who promises to bring them home, but this neglects the data that show that in-theater re-enlistments are quite solid.
Finally, no good will come from this piece, as it is unscientific, yet will be used by the usual suspects to discredit legitimate survey data presented by the media. Additionally, we will no doubt be treated to weeks of “HERE ARE SOLDIERS WHO WANT MCCAIN” pieces by the various idiots in the right-wing blogosphere, much like in the wake of Cindy Sheehan’s rise to notoriety we were treated to the grotesque spectacle of grieving parents who still supported the war being foisted into the media spotlight to share their grief and enthusiasm for our excellent adventure in Iraq. If I had to place bets, I would wager the Confederate Yankee and Weekly Standard are already on the case.
*** Update ***
Somewhat related from the Petraeus proceedings:
My favorite line of the day just came from Sen. James Webb (D.-Va.): “Combat was the most apolitical environment I’ve ever been in.”