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If Money Talks, The Troops Are Saying, 'Vote Obama'

Way back in September, we learned that Barack Obama and Ron Paul, who don’t have too much in common, were the top two presidential candidates when i

Way back in September, we learned that Barack Obama and Ron Paul, who don’t have too much in common, were the top two presidential candidates when it came to financial support from U.S. troops.

It had a certain political salience — opponents of the war in Iraq took note of the fact that the top two recipients of military donations went to critics of the Bush policy — but it was still relatively early in the process. Would the trend continue once the race grew more competitive? Actually, yes.

The Center for Responsive Politics reported today that Obama has received six times as much money from the troops as John McCain.

According to an analysis of campaign contributions by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Democrat Barack Obama has received nearly six times as much money from troops deployed overseas at the time of their contributions than has Republican John McCain, and the fiercely anti-war Ron Paul, though he suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination months ago, has received more than four times McCain’s haul.

Despite McCain’s status as a decorated veteran and a historically Republican bent among the military, members of the armed services overall — whether stationed overseas or at home — are also favoring Obama with their campaign contributions in 2008, by a $55,000 margin. Although 59 percent of federal contributions by military personnel has gone to Republicans this cycle, of money from the military to the presumed presidential nominees, 57 percent has gone to Obama.

Aaron Belkin, a professor of political science at the University of California who studies the military, said, “That’s shocking. The academic debate is between some who say that junior enlisted ranks lean slightly Republican and some who say it’s about equal, but no one would point to six-to-one” in Democrats’ favor. “That represents a tremendous shift from 2000, when the military vote almost certainly was decisive in Florida and elsewhere, and leaned heavily towards the Republicans.”

That last point is especially striking. Eight years ago, Bush outraised Gore among military personnel almost 2 to 1. Four years ago, Kerry did better, but Bush raised $1.50 for every dollar Kerry raised.

And yet, now the numbers have shifted to Obama, in a big way.

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