Gallup: Veterans are cause of the gender gap

Here’s an interesting fact I didn’t know before.

Turns out that the “gender gap” that has Mitt Romney doing better among men and Barack Obama doing better among women (the usual pattern for a generation, at least) is less a gender thing, and more a matter of whether men have served in the military or not. According to Gallup:

PRINCETON, NJ — U.S. veterans, about 13% of the adult population and consisting mostly of older men, support Mitt Romney over Barack Obama for president by 58% to 34%, while nonveterans give Obama a four-percentage-point edge.

These data, from an analysis of Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted April 11-May 24, show that 24% of all adult men are veterans, compared with 2% of adult women.

Obama and Romney are tied overall at 46% apiece among all registered voters in this sample. Men give Romney an eight-point edge, while women opt for Obama over Romney by seven points. It turns out that the male skew for Romney is driven almost entirely by veterans. Romney leads by one point among nonveteran men, contrasted with the 28-point edge Romney receives among male veterans.

The small percentage of female veterans in the U.S., in contrast to their male counterparts, do not differ significantly in their presidential vote choice from the vast majority of women who are not veterans…

Here’s a graph:

Interesting. I wonder what the long-term implications of this will be. Most of the men who have served in the military are older than I am. Twenty years from now, will much of the gender gap have disappeared, in favor of Democrats? I don’t know. I’d need to understand better why this veteran gap exists to be able to answer that.

18 thoughts on “Gallup: Veterans are cause of the gender gap

  1. Lynn

    Maybe the Vets are hoping Romney’s management expertise will finally shorten the waiting lists and lines at the VA for their benefits.
    That’s the only reason I can see, since both Romney (and immediate family) have the same military experience Pres. Obama has. You’d think one Romney son would have served in the military at some point. At least W served in the Texas Air National Guard.

  2. `Kathryn Braun

    I would guess that veterans as a group are more conservative. In my experience, they are.

  3. bud

    Not sure why this go around veterans prefer the Republican candidate. Obama has certainly not be shy about using the military. And wasn’t it Romney who pretty much agreed with George W. when he said Bin-Laden wasn’t worth spending a whole lot of money and effort into going after? I think this has to do with habit more than anything. Romney talks tough but if you parse his actual words he pretty much is in line with the actions of the president.

  4. bud

    I wrote my last entry before actually looking at the chart. The story and the chart don’t match. Women veterans are far more likely to prefer Obama than male veterans. In fact a plurality of female veterans support the president. In effect the only group that Romney leads in is male veterans. The story in effect is bogus.

  5. Steven Davis II

    “Most of the men who have served in the military are older than I am.”

    At what point did we move to an all female military?

  6. Susanincola

    Could it relate to the fact that Fox News is on in a lot of military installations pretty much all the time?

  7. Silence

    @ Susanincola – in my office we watch CNBC as long as I have the remote. In the gym Fox News is on, but other TVs there run MSNBC full time.

  8. Mark Stewart

    Those stats are largely meaningless as to long-term implications without age breakdowns within the catagories of vet/non-vet.

  9. Brad

    Mark, there’s more on the breakdowns by age if you follow that Gallup link.

    And for Steven’s benefit:

    “The proportion of U.S. men who are armed forces veterans rises dramatically among those who are 60 and older. The military draft was in force in the U.S. from shortly before the U.S. entry into World War II until the early 1970s. A majority of men now 70 to 89 served in the military, including almost three-quarters of those aged 80 to 89. Less than a fifth of men younger than 50 have served in the military. There is little variation in military service among women across these age groups.”

    My first year of draft eligibility happened to be the last year of the draft. Hence the fact that most veterans today are older than I am. As you know, since then, only a very small proportion of the population has served.

  10. Steven Davis II

    So a “veteran” is someone over 60??? What does that make those who are under 60 and have served in the military and fought in actual combat? It’d be interesting to see actual numbers of veterans alive over the age of 60 and the number under 60. I’d be willing to bet there are more under the age of 60.

  11. Susanincola

    @Silence Are you saying you’re in the military and they show MSNBC? I had just heard anecdotally from four or five military friends and relatives (stationed all over the country) that Fox was just about the only thing on in the common rooms where they were. But still it was only anecdotal, so certainly could be just a coincidence that they only see Fox.

  12. Nick Nielsen

    I don’t see how you can read it that way, Steven, without intentionally trying to misinterpret his words.

    There are quite a few veterans under 65, but as the survey says, the proportion of veterans relative to the general population rises with age. In pure numbers (from 2010) there are 21.8 million veterans. 9 million of them are over 65 and 1.7 million of them are under 35, which leaves 11.1 million between the ages of 35 and 65.

    In other words, there are more veterans under 65 (12.8 million in 2010) than over (9 million). But as a percentage of the population, less than 20% of those under 65 are veterans, while veterans make up almost 75% of men over 65.

    Easier to understand?

  13. `Kathryn Braun

    More different people served, probably shorter stints, back when there was a draft. Now you have fewer different people who serve many years.

  14. Silence

    @ Susan – In the gymnasium here on base, they have about 30 TV’s around the room tuned to a variety of different channels and you can tune your radio or plus in your headphones to the equipment and listen to whichever one you want. I counted yesterday, and 3 were on MSNBC and 4 were on FoxNews. One was on CNBC. The rest were on ABC, TNT, CBS, USA, etc. I don’t know which ones people actually watch or listen to, but if people wanted say, a different station in front of their particular machine, they could ask the staff to change it, and they do.

    @ ‘Kathryn – your guess is correct.

  15. Steven Davis II

    So Nick, in Brad’s comments the use of “veteran” only implies those over 65?

    Of course the age of veterans increases with age… doesn’t everything?

    “Breaking news, the age of everyone with a birthday is going up every year.”

  16. Mark Stewart

    I’m excited that we only have a little over four more months of this kind of insightful Gallup analysis.

  17. Susanincola

    @Silence — I appreciate your going to the trouble of counting and reporting back! I’m glad to have more information to balance out my view.

  18. `Kathryn Braun

    Yes, Mark, until it starts up again in, what, another two months? The eternal election cycle!


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