U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya may weigh on the minds of voters next year, but during the early months of the 2012 election cycle, members of the U.S. Armed Forces who are active political donors are mainly rallying around two candidates, according to a new analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Overall, individuals who listed their occupation as one of the branches of the military or the U.S. Department of Defense have donated about $78,000 to presidential candidates, according to the Center’s analysis of donors who contributed at least $200 during the first months of the 2012 presidential campaign.
Obama has collected 44 percent of these funds, or about $34,500, according to the Center’s research.
As president, Obama has worked to wind down U.S. involvement in Iraq. He also oversaw the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by Navy SEALs, approved U.S. military involvement in Libya, expanded the use of drones for counterterrorism attacks and increased U.S. forces in Afghanistan, although his administration is planning to draw down troops from the Afghan surge by next summer.
On the Republican side of the aisle, Paul has collected the most contributions from active military members and DoD employees. Paul, who stresses a non-interventionist approach on the campaign trail, has received about $32,100 from these sources, according to the Center’s research — nearly as much as Obama.
Paul’s haul is nearly eight times larger than that of his GOP rival Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, who has said that he favors bringing troops home from Afghanistan “as soon as the generals think it’s okay.”
For his part, Romney has raised $4,100 from members of the Armed Forces, the Center’s research indicates.
Ex-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who has defended the United States’ overseas military campaigns on the stump and during recent GOP debates, meanwhile, has collected just $250 from military members, according to the Center’s research.
During the 2008 presidential election, Obama and Paul both also fared well with military donors, as OpenSecrets Blog previously reported.
Here is a table showing how much current presidential candidates have raised from these sources as of June 30, the date of the most recent campaign finance reports.
Candidate Total Barack Obama $34,482 Ron Paul $32,089 Mitt Romney $4,100 Herman Cain $3,500 Michele Bachmann $2,550 Newt Gingrich $900 Rick Santorum $250
Note: Third-quarter fund-raising reports will be filed with the Federal Election Commission next month — including the first reports for candidates such as Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and ex-Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah, neither of whom announce their presidential campaigns until after the second-quarter campaign finance reporting deadline.
Center for Responsive Politics senior researcher Doug Weber contributed to this report