President Barack Obama is taking in almost twice as much in campaign contributions from U.S. military personnel as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is collecting, despite Romney’s promises to boost defense spending and his campaign attacks over military cuts set to take place in January.
Obama has received $536,414 from military donors, compared with Romney’s $287,435, according to research by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics in Washington. The group’s study includes donations through August.
The Department of Defense is the Democratic president’s top supporter among the armed forces, with employees there giving $176,121. Army personnel rank next, with $165,646. Romney’s top military contributor is the Army, with $115,458, with the Air Force not far behind with $90,611 in donations.
Obama’s advantage probably comes in part because some of the armed forces personnel are political appointees of his administration, according to Peter Feaver, a political science professor at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who has studied military personnel and their impact on elections.
“One party owns the executive branch right now, so the impact could be potentially quite large,” he said. Yet Obama also may be winning a broader battle for support in an election that has seen both candidates “assiduously” courted the military, he said.
“It appears that he does have a small but energetic supporter base in the military,” Feaver said.
The pro-Obama tilt comes despite Romney’s promises to boost defense spending to 4 percent of gross domestic product and to build 15 new Navy ships per year, and also his attacks on Obama over $500 billion in across-the-board cuts to military programs pver 10 year that begin January 2 unless a budget impasse with Congress is resolved in time.
Earlier in the election cycle, military personnel donations were overwhelmingly tilted toward Republican hopeful Ron Paul, until Obama began to overtake him in March, the CRP has found.