WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump appears to be winning over a majority of the country’s military veterans, with a new poll finding 57% approve of the way he is handling his responsibilities as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Almost six in 10 said they trust the president to make the right decision on the use of military force while 48% believe Trump has made the U.S. military stronger.
The survey, by the Pew Research center, polled more than 1,200 veterans between May 14 and June 3, and has a margin of error of plus/minus 3.9 percentage points.
According to data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, veterans accounted for about 10% of all registered voters during the country’s 2018 (midterm) elections.
The Pew survey found that despite the overall support for the president, a significant number of veterans have reservations about Trump’s leadership – concerns that were magnified when researchers looked at the veterans’ political leanings.
According to the Pew survey, veterans were nearly split on whether the president pays enough attention to the advice of senior military leaders.
Half of those surveyed said Trump listens “the right amount,” though 45% said he did not listen enough.
And 30% said they did not trust Trump at all to make the right decision about the use of nuclear weapons.
But Trump’s support among veterans fell sharply among those who identified as Democrats or who leaned toward the Democratic party, with only 6% approving of his performance as commander in chief.
In contrast, 92% of veterans who identified as Republican or said they leaned toward the Republican party approved of Trump.
Pew researchers said the stark partisan divide mirrored the findings of a similar survey in 2011, which found Democratic-leaning veterans were overwhelmingly supportive of former President Barack Obama while Republican-leaning veterans overwhelmingly disapproved of Obama’s performance.
Compared to the general public, veterans as a whole were more enthusiastic about Trump’s handling of the military.
A Pew survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults, conducted at about the same time, found only 41% of Americans approved of Trump as commander in chief.
Veterans were also more likely than the general public to be supportive of the president’s calls for increased military spending, 39% saying more money should go toward the military as compared to 31% of other U.S. adults.
Trump’s policies on Mexico, Iran and transgender troops seem to be resonating with veterans, as a whole.
The Pew survey found 58% approve of Trump’s decision to send troops to the border with Mexico to help deal with migrants trying to cross into the U.S.
Just more than half, 53%, approved on the decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran.
And 52% approved of Trump’s efforts to ban transgender people from serving in the military.
The one area where a majority of veterans split with the president was on his push to create a new Space Force, with 53% of veterans disapproving of the move.