The Presidential Election of 2020 was one of the most consequential in modern American history. The stakes were incredibly high as two extremely opposing visions were presented to the American people by former President Donald Trump and now President Joe Biden. The difference in philosophies is perhaps best summed up in each candidate’s rallying calls: “Keep America Great” and “Build Back Better.” It’s no secret that this election was highly polarized, in an incredibly divided nation struggling through an unprecedented pandemic and subsequent fallout from our nation’s response to it. We all know now that Joe Biden’s message resonated with the most voters, but the result is one that surely has left the majority of Veteran voters disappointed.
The Veteran Vote
Leading up to the Presidential Election, polls indicated that registered Veterans were inclined to vote for Donald Trump. As reported by the Military Times, “A Morning Consult Poll of more than 2,700 military and veteran voters last month also found 52 percent of veterans planning to vote for Trump and 42 percent of veterans planning to vote for Biden.” As noted by NPR, winning the Veteran vote was essential for Trump’s chances at victory in November. “Exit polls showed that President Trump won the votes of military veterans by a big margin in 2016. And if you look at states where the count was close, the military vote might even have equaled the entire margin of victory.” In fact, polls leading up to the election suggested that “Trump is similarly popular among likely voters in military households: 51 percent view him favorably and 47 percent view him unfavorably,” according to The Morning Consult.
That Donald Trump was the preferred candidate amongst Veteran voters was revealed initially through polling, we have also covered other ways in which Vets showed their lack of support for Joe Biden. Leading up to election day, we launched an online pledge called “Stand Up for Our Veterans, Say NO to Joe Biden!, Promise to Vote.” The intention of this pledge program was to raise awareness of the issues affecting Veterans and to rally opposition to Joe Biden’s agenda for not only Veterans, but Americans in general. It was a success. Thousands of Veterans and those who support them signed our pledge to oppose Biden in targeted swing states. In Wisconsin, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, over 12,000 respondents signed their name in opposition to a potential Biden administration.
Winning the Veteran Vote
As in any election year, the agenda of each competing candidate was one of the primary forces in determining how a demographic might vote. As noted by USA Today, Donald Trump’s proposed agenda for military and Veterans issues was mostly a continuation of his first term. This included foreign policy which relied less and less on American military interventionism, and featured pledges to end America’s “endless wars” in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. He also lobbied Veterans on his successes with overhauls at the VA, an organization whose failures Trump placed at the feet of his opponent, Joe Biden. In turn, where Donald Trump preached a departure from the business-as-usual attitude of America’s previous military interventions, Joe Biden campaigned on what might be called more of the same. Where Trump advocated withdrawing troops, Biden focused on maintaining the status quo.
In the end, while the majority of America chose Joe Biden to be the next President of the United States, Veterans as a bloc voted to re-elect Donald Trump. According to national exit polling conducted by both CNN and The New York Times, Veterans as a group voted for President Donald Trump by a margin of 54% to Joe Biden’s 44%. This was even larger margins than anticipated by initial polls going into November 3rd. However, in many states, including ones we targeted with our pledge, Veterans voted for Trump in even higher numbers. In North Carolina (62%) and Georgia (61%), for instance, Veterans far exceeded the overall national average support for Donald Trump.
But despite such high support among Veteran voters, Donald Trump came up short, and now we are left the results of the election. The people have spoken, and Joe Biden is our 46th President. Time will tell if he lives up to the promises he has made to support our troops, our Veterans, and all Americans, whether they voted for him or not.
Image Credit: Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash