Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Campaign contributions by candidate from US military personnel

Reading Mangan's recent post contrasting the top sources of campaign contributions for the Romney and Paul presidential campaigns, I was surprised to find that the Texas congressman's three largest boosters are the Army, Air Force, and Navy. As Dennis points out, the lists compiled by OpenSecrets.org are comprised of donations from employees, family members, and organizations' political action committees, not from the actual organizations themselves.

Ron Paul is described as the "isolationist" (an absurdly inaccurate term to use in describing a vociferous free trade supporter such as Paul) candidate who wants to reduce the size of the US military's global footprint and substantially cut federal spending on defense. Pundits of the mainstream Republican establishment, who must now bite their tongues when they talk about Paul upon the realization that without Paul's supporters a GOP victory in November is virtually unattainable, have in the past expressed no reservations in labeling him an "anti-American". It's noteworthy, then, that those who actual serve in the US military appear to be among his most ardent supporters.

Mangan's post, however, reveals that Romney's tenth largest contributor has donated nearly five times as much as Paul's largest contributor has. So maybe the military branches are just further down Romney's list but still give more to Mitt and the other candidates than they do to Paul.

To find out whether or not that's the case, I went to the FEC's website and downloaded the entire donor listings for all individuals who listed "Army", "Navy", "Marines", or "Air Force" as their employer or occupation through the end of November 2011 (the latest figures available). The following table ranks all 2012 presidential (current and former) aspirants who have received campaign contributions from members of the US military by the amount of money each has received:

Presidential candidate
$ received
1. Ron Paul
2. Barack Obama
3. Mitt Romney
4. Rick Perry
5. Herman Cain
6. Michelle Bachmann
7. Newt Gingrich
8. John Huntsman
9. Gary Johnson
9. Rick Santorum
11. Charles 'Buddy' Roemer
12. Thaddeus McCotter
13. Tim Pawlenty

Paul has garnered twice as much in donations for his presidential campaign from military personnel as the rest of the Republican field combined. Even president Obama, who owns the Democratic ticket, comes in below him.

I'd love to hear how Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity would react if questioned about why we should ignore what the "troops on the ground" are saying about the direction of our foreign policy and what needs to be done to change it. Of course we'll hear instead about the need to rally behind someone who supports the military and is strong on defense without a word on how those in the military actually feel about him.


IHTG said...

Damn. Ron Paul really is a kind of cult figure among very specific strata of American society, isn't he?
This phenomenon really deserves a book. Or at least a well-researched Steve Sailer article!

Noah172 said...

Santorum is sandwiched between Gary Johnson and Buddy ****ing Roemer! Can't those dumb grunts see the mortal threat from the Tehran-Caracas axis?!

I went the FEC site and typed "defense" for employer to see the results for civilian defense workers (or military folks who described their occupation that way rather than naming their service branch). I didn't add up the numbers, but a large majority of the individual names are for Obama, with almost all of the remainder for Paul.

I recently got out of the Army. Paul and Obama were the only, and I mean only, political figures over whom anybody got enthusiastic, that I saw, from at least 2006 onward. Most military people are some form of right-wing, and Bush's failures did not change that very much (except in re: foreign policy), but many have soured on the GOP.

Paul Rain said...

I'm reasonably sure these FEC listings include only those donating over a certain amount. Given that Ron Paul supporters tend to be rather unsophisticated in general, I would be surprised if a tendency for his supporters to donate as much as they can spare, typically slightly more than that limit, was not exaggerating the preference for Paul.

Frankly, if I was in a public service promotional structure, I'd either donate under the limit and have my wife do the same, or have her donate the full amount. The military's a bit of an odd cow here- they don't have a union like TSA workers or school teachers that will spend money under the radar more efficiently than they can in their interests. Most ranks are also paid less well than the granny-molesters, which is going to mean generous donations are more likely to come from those who are well, very 'commited'.

Audacious Epigone said...


Young libertarian types, yes. That apparently constitutes a fairly sizable chunk of the US military.


That's encouraging to hear. It's annoying that it's not more widely known. Military personnel in the US are generally venerated, but when it comes to their political leanings, the media establishment doesn't want anything to do with them, apparently.


They actually go as low as $1 in the database I downloaded from the FEC site. Steve Sailer remarked a few days ago about how small "big money" is when it comes to donations to political campaigns.

Anonymous said...

AE, do you know what % of all votes were cast by blacks in the 2008 election?

Blacks are about 12% of the population but I don't think they participate as much as whites or others. Is that true?

Audacious Epigone said...


Blacks vote in representative proportions. (Non-Hispanic) White vote share is larger than white population share. Hispanic and Asian vote shares, in contrast, are smaller than their respective population shares. You might find this post of interest.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I thought you had written on the topic.