VoteVets.org

Surprising Poll on Effect of Veterans in Battleground States

To:    Vote Vets Action Fund
Re:    The Strength and Depth of the Veteran’s Voice in 2012 Campaigns 1

Date:    January 2012

Recent Lake Research Partners surveys conducted in eleven 2012 Presidential battleground states with an additional sample in Montana show that VoteVets can reach groups of voters other progressives struggle to reach, including on the key issues such as the economy.  The major findings are as follows:

  • Public support from VoteVets can make an important difference for candidates.  In fact, VoteVets has a unique reach in that its support speaks to base progressive voters, swing voters, and can actually cross-pressure conservative voters who typically support Republican candidates. Fifty-eight percent of likely voters in battleground states say they would be more likely to vote for a Congressional candidate in 2012 who was publicly supported by a group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Twenty-eight percent say it would make them much more likely to vote for that particular candidate, while just 15% say they would be less like to vote for the candidate.

    More Likely to Support a Congressional Candidate as a Result of Public Support Coming from:


    • VoteVets’ strength goes beyond a traditional veterans-base, or in this case even a progressive base, and can cross-pressure self-identified Republican voters.  Sixty percent of voters who identify themselves as strong Democrats say they would be more likely to vote for someone supported by a group of recent veterans (32% say they would be much more likely to vote for the candidate), and 56% of Independents say the same (25% much more likely). Additionally, 61% of Republicans say they would be more likely to vote for a Congressional candidate supported by a group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans (just 13% less likely).
  • The power of the VoteVets voice goes beyond veterans’ issues and is particularly strong on the economy at a time when progressives continue to seek a credible voice on the economy.  Our survey tested messages with half the sample hearing messages from a candidate and the other half hearing the same message in the veteran’s voice.  The veteran’s voice had particular bounce on messages around unemployment, jobs, and around taxing the wealthy.
    • Eighty-three percent of likely voters in the battleground states who heard the message on unemployment benefits using the veteran’s voice said it was a convincing argument to oppose cutting unemployment benefits, compared to 78% when a candidate makes the same claim. 2
    • In Montana, the number of respondents saying that it is a convincing reason to oppose cuts to unemployment benefits goes up to 85%, with 58% saying it is a very convincing reason. For comparison, the same unemployment benefits message without the VoteVets language is supported by 65% of likely Montana voters, with just 38% saying very convincing.
    • In the eleven battleground states, as well as in Montana, the messages using the Afghanistan and Iraq veteran’s voice in advocating for a tax increase on the rich receives more support than the same message without the veteran’s voice.
    • The advantage does not always hold true. For example, voters trust Democrats on Social Security as much or more than Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and that makes complete sense.
  • Finally, white men are particularly responsive to Afghanistan and Iraq veterans, who can reach them in a way that normal Democratic validators cannot.  White men, younger men, and independent men are audiences much more likely to trust recent veterans than Democrats on important issues, including the economy. 
    • Sixty percent of all men are more likely to support a Congressional candidate publicly supported by a group of recent veterans (31% much more likely, just 14% less likely), including 63% of men under age 50 and 60% of white men.  Each of these male voter groups are also more convinced to oppose cutting unemployment benefits if the message is delivered from the veteran’s perspective rather than a generic candidate.  That is also true when recent veterans speak about making sure that the rich pay their fair share.
    • The differences between trusting a group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, compared to trusting Democrats, are also powerful when it comes to the issue itself.  On veterans’ issues, not surprisingly, male voters are 69 points more likely to trust a veterans group over Republicans, but men trust Republicans over Democrats by 4 points.  On the war in Afghanistan, men trust veterans over the GOP by 64 points, but trust Republicans over Democrats by 5 points.
    • Most importantly, a group of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans gets us into the game with men in a way that no one else can. It is powerful that veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan can speak to traditional strengths like wars and veterans’ issues, but what’s even more powerful, is the fact that they have such credibility on economic messages.
    • On the economy, men trust Republicans over recent veterans on the economy by 3 points, but prefer the GOP over Democrats on the economy by11 points.  Using the veteran’s voice can get Democrats into the conversation with white men to an extent that other groups cannot.
    • VoteVets can be especially instrumental with men in Montana. Using the voice of recent veterans raises the opposition to cutting unemployment benefits among Montana men by 35 points, from56 percent when using a generic candidate up to 91 percent.

In sum, VoteVets can provide a powerful and credible voice to progressive causes beyond just veterans’ affairs and can make a difference in 2012 with audiences that Democrats typically struggle to persuade.


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1 Methodology: Lake Research Partners designed and administered this telephone survey, using professional interviewers, with 815 likely 2012 November voters in eleven presidential battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. An additional oversample of 200 likely Montana voters was also conducted. The survey was conducted December 4-11, 2011. The margin of error for the national sample is +/-3.4 percentage points and +/-6.9 percentage points for the Montana oversample.

2 Message text: SSA: The recession has gone on longer than anyone expected and millions of Americans have needed unemployment benefits, but now some politicians are trying to cut unemployment benefits and are refusing to extend the benefits if they expire, leaving millions of Americans with no income. That's wrong, especially since Congressmen have improved benefits for themselves. [Unemployment benefits - Generic]. SSB: The recession has gone on longer than anyone expected and millions of Americans have needed unemployment benefits. Our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in fact have faced higher unemployment than the rest of the country. But now some politicians are trying to cut unemployment benefits that go to our veterans and are refusing to extend the benefits if they expire. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans say that's wrong, especially since Congressmen have improved benefits for themselves. [Unemployment benefits - VoteVets].


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Webby Award Official HonoreePaid for VoteVets Political Action Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. VoteVets Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization which primarily focuses on nonpartisan education and advocacy on behalf veterans and their families. VoteVets Political Action Committee is a federal political committee which primarily helps elect Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran candidates and educates about veterans and military issues aimed at influencing the outcome of the next election.

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VoteVets Political Action and Vote Vets Action Fund are separate organizations.