Military Donates Essentially No Money to Candidates

The Center for Responsive Politics touts "Overwhelming Support for Obama" among military donors. The numbers show something more interesting: those associated with the military don't give money to political campaigns.

The Center for Responsive Politics touts “Overwhelming Support for Obama” among military donors. The numbers show something more interesting: those associated with the military don’t give money to political campaigns.

OpenSecretsblog (“Armed Forces Show Overwhelming Support for Obama“):

Foreign policy, military funding and plans for U.S. troops abroad are providing plenty of chewy campaign fodder for President Barack Obama and his GOP rival, Mitt Romney. But fundraising reports shed light on what the armed forces think about the the candidates.

Former Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul received significant support from the military for his strong stance on bringing troops home, and that briefly continued even after Romney pulled ahead as the clear GOP candidate.

Now, though, the military’s support has shifted toward Obama. Romney has consistently received little financial backing from military donors.

Despite the fact that Paul once raised almost twice as much as Obama did from the military, the president has received $536,414 from military donors, compared to Paul’s $399,274 and Romney’s $287,435, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics. These numbers are based on donations greater than $200, as reported to the Federal Election Commission.

Well, okay. But let’s look at the numbers:

  Donor   Obama   Romney       Paul
Defense Acquisition University             $0     $1,000             $0
National Defense University         $300             $0             $0
National Guard     $7,507     $4,490   $16,333
NATO         $250             $0             $0
US Air Force   $69,532   $54,170   $90,611
US Army $165,646   $87,218 $115,458
US Coast Guard   $12,122     $4,700   $13,819
US Dept of Defense $176,121   $71,043   $39,500
US Marine Corps   $16,168   $16,120   $30,855
US Military      $2,112     $5,491     $2,755
US Navy   $86,656   $43,203   $89,943
Total $536,414 $287,435 $399,274

The combined totals for Obama, Romney, and Paul add up to  a little over $1.2 million. There are more than 1.4 million people on active duty in our armed forces alone. That means they’ve averaged a little less than a dollar each in giving to the candidates. And the pool is actually much larger than that, since the table tracks contributions from civilian employees.

via Lawrence Korb 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Military Affairs, Quick Takes, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bill says:

    I served in the Navy for 10 years ending in 1989. During that time I never donated even a penny to a political candidate.

    For 23 years since I have maintained that record. This year I actually knew someone personally who was running for county political office. If finances weren’t so tight, I might have donated to her campaign.

    My friend got defeated by an almost 3 to 1 margin. Oh well.

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    The “Center for Responsive Politics?”

    In any event, obviously the military is not nor should be in the business of donating money to candidates for political offices. The ethical issues are so obvious even the media could figure them out. And it’s good news than even with civilian contractors in the mix the total military-related donations are but a mere token sum.

    It’s bad enough at various levels that the military votes 2-1 for Republicans, with the Democrats’ support largely consisting of racial minorities. That’s not exactly the most comforting dirty non-secret secret of our politics. If the military actually started donating big money to candidates then that would be far less comforting.

  3. Moosebreath says:

    James,

    “The combined totals for Obama, Romney, and Paul add up to a little over $1.2 million. There are more than 1.4 million people on active duty in our armed forces alone. That means they’ve averaged a little less than a dollar each in giving to the candidates.”

    I strongly suspect that if you did a similar exercise with _all_ persons earning less than $100,000 per year, you would find a similar level of per person donations by them. (Heck, I make more than that, and have not donated since the days when I worked for the law firm where the first name partner was also the county Republican chair and donations to preferred candidates were strongly encouraged). Generally, it takes having large amounts of disposable income to be willing to pony money up to elect candidates. Just reflects that in our world where money is deemed to be speech, some people more equal than others.

  4. James Joyner says:

    @Moosebreath: I think it’s probably right that people making middle class incomes don’t donate much to political candidates. Hell, I don’t donate myself, on the grounds that I’ve got better things to do with my money than finance a split second of a television commercial that’ll have negligible impact on the process.

    I just think it’s amusing that people are trying to make a big deal about what the donations say about what military types think about politics when the real story is the lack of donations.

  5. There are more than 1.4 million people on active duty in our armed forces alone. That means they’ve averaged a little less than a dollar each in giving to the candidates. And the pool is actually much larger than that, since the table tracks contributions from civilian employees.

    If you divide total donations by total US population, you get less than $8 per person, so by your logic no one is donating to the candidates at all.

  6. rudderpedals says:

    @James Joyner:

    I just think it’s amusing that people are trying to make a big deal about what the donations say about what military types think about politics when the real story is the lack of donations.

    The magnitude of the difference in contribs isn’t a real story James? Or that the armaments manufacturers’ and friends’ contributions swamp the mil voices isn’t a real story?

  7. wr says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “It’s bad enough at various levels that the military votes 2-1 for Republicans, with the Democrats’ support largely consisting of racial minorities.”

    Apparently in Tsar’s world, the US military is entirely white, with no minorities allowed.

    Apparently Tsar’s world stopped somewhere around 1863.

  8. mantis says:

    @wr:

    Apparently Tsar’s world stopped somewhere around 1863

    1918, actually. July 17, to be exact.

  9. Gustopher says:

    The military: too poor to donate, so too poor to matter.

    We don’t pay our soldiers very well. They are part of the 47%, so of course they don’t donate a lot. I do actually wonder what the numbers would look like if there was reporting down to $50 — both the total, and the beneficiary might be a big surprise.