NEWSFLASH: REPUBLICAN-LEANING GROUP LEANS REPUBLICAN
A lot of attention is being directed to a Gallup poll showing Mitt Romney with a 24-point lead over Barack Obama among veterans. And while this is a bigger gap than Obama experienced in 2008, according to exit polls -- he lost them by 10 points, 54%-44%, running against an actual veteran -- this year's veterans aren't representative of the populace as a whole (overall, in the current Gallup poll, Obama and Romney are tied).
As Gallup noted in 2009, veterans are simply more Republican than non-veterans -- and if you check Gallup's numbers on this, you see that this becomes more and more the case among younger service personnel and veterans. In 2009, in the 18-24-year-old group, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 13 percentage points among non-veterans, while Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 18 percentage points among veterans and servicemembers. That's a huge gap.
Beyond that is the fact that, because of wars and the Cold War draft, a large percentage of America's elderly are veterans -- and older people are warier of Obama than any other age group is, as multiple polls have noted. It's a leap to ascribe older veterans' distrust of Obama to their veteran status -- many old people just don't like the guy. Is it because old people disproportionately watch Fox News? Is it racism? Is it health care? I think a lot of it is health care. Bill Clinton lost seniors when he pursued health care reform (and he'd done well among them in 1992, much better than Obama did in 2008). In any case, I don't think older veterans distrust Obama because they're veterans.