Shortly before the 2016 presidential election, that year's Military Times poll found Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton by a roughly two-to-one margin. Four years later, it's a very different story.
The latest Military Times poll shows a continued decline in active-duty service members' views of President Donald Trump and a slight but significant preference for former Vice President Joe Biden in the upcoming November election among troops surveyed.... [T]he Military Times Polls, surveying active-duty troops in partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, have seen a steady drop in troops' opinion of the commander in chief since his election four years ago.
The conventional wisdom tends to be that Americans in uniform are more conservative than the civilian population at large. But in this case, the results of the Military Times survey suggest that political attitudes between the two groups aren't that different: roughly half of active-duty troops, for example, have an unfavorable opinion of Trump. That's comparable to the 52% who said they have a negative view of the president in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Looking ahead to Election Day, the same results showed Joe Biden leading the incumbent, 43% to 37%, with the remaining active-duty service members planning to either not vote or to support a third-party candidate. And while the Democrat's advantage tends to be a little larger in other recent 2020 polling, this is a constituency Trump assumes is on his side.
To be sure, this doesn't come out of nowhere. In a piece for The Atlantic last fall, Mark Bowden took a closer look at what it's like for U.S. troops to serve under Donald Trump, interviewing "officers up and down the ranks, as well as several present and former civilian Pentagon employees." The results were striking.
"In 20 years of writing about the military, I have never heard officers in high positions express such alarm about a president," the article noted.
More recently, an astonishing number of retired American military leaders have stepped up in recent months to denounce and rebuke Trump -- to a degree without modern precedent. The list includes four former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, each of whom have publicly slammed the incumbent president ahead of his re-election bid.
Peter Feaver, a White House adviser to former President George W. Bush who now works as a political science professor at Duke University, told the Military Times, "It's fair to say that Trump is not as popular as Republican nominees have been in the past among this group. The bottom line is that in 2020, Trump can't be claiming to have overwhelming support in the military."
Of course, if recent history is any guide, he'll make the claim anyway.