Majority of US Veterans Approve of Trump, AP Poll Says

December 30, 2018 Updated: January 2, 2019

Most military veterans have positive views of President Donald Trump and his job performance, signaling continued support for the man who vowed during his 2016 presidential campaign to fix the problems faced by veterans.

Overall, 56 percent of veterans—both current and former service members—approve of Trump’s performance as president, while 43 percent disapprove, according to a nationwide Associated Press survey of more than 115,000 midterm voters, including more than 4,000 current and former service members.

Continuing on that trend, almost 6 in 10 military veterans voted for Republican candidates during the November midterm elections.

Strong Support

The survey found that on specific issues such as border security, veterans were significantly more likely than those who haven’t served to approve of Trump’s handling of border security, 62 percent to 48 percent.

Fifty-one percent of veterans also believe the Trump administration has made the country safer from terrorism. A majority of current service members polled, 59 percent, said Trump is a strong leader. The president acknowledged the poll’s results on Twitter, thanking his veteran base.

In September, Trump signed appropriations legislation that provided $86.5 billion in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a historic boost for the department and the largest dollar amount in agency’s history. The majority of that funding—$73.1 billion—was for the medical care of seven million patients, among other services.

“It is our sacred duty to support America’s Service Members every single day they wear the uniform—and every day after, when they return home as Veterans,” Trump said at a speech in November. “Together we will HONOR those who defend us, we will CHERISH those who protect us, and we will celebrate the amazing heroes.”

Last year, Trump, in another sign of his commitment to veterans, signed the Veterans Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, which protects whistleblowers and gives the department more authority to remove certain employees or senior executives for misconduct or performance reasons.

As of November, Trump had removed about 3,600 government employees who have mistreated veterans, since his inauguration.

The survey found that the difference in support for Trump between veterans and nonveterans extends across racial and ethnic groups, including among whites (62 percent of veterans approve versus 49 percent of nonveterans), Latinos (53 percent versus 28 percent) and African-Americans (22 percent versus 10 percent).

Meanwhile, 58 percent of female veterans, a growing demographic in the military, said they disapprove of Trump.

Growing Impact

Veterans themselves had good success running for Congress, compared to previous years. Eighteen new veterans were elected to the House, including seven Democrats.

That’s the largest number of new veterans elected to the House since 2010, and the biggest influx of Democratic vets since 1996, according to Seth Lynn, a University of San Francisco professor who runs Veterans Campaign, a group that prepares veterans for careers in politics.

One veteran, Republican Rick Scott of Florida, will join the Senate.

In all, more than 170 veterans were on November’s congressional ballots as major-party candidates. Some, such as Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot, ran close House races but ultimately fell short on Election Day.

A total of 96 military veterans will serve as lawmakers next year—66 Republicans and 30 Democrats.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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