Scott Rasmussen has some interesting data that I haven’t seen anywhere else: 48% of voters say they have a family member or friend currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, and that 48% of the population favors President Bush over John Kerry by 51% to 41%. (Rasmussen notes that the margin is even wider among military veterans.)
I figure there are around 200 million Americans of voting age; 48% of that total is 96 million. I think there are somewhere around 180,000 troops currently in Iraq or Afghanistan. If those assumptions are right–I think they’re at least in the ballpark–then each soldier stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan is claimed as a friend or family member by an average of 533 people, which seems like an awfully high number.
Bush’s popularity with these people is no doubt explained in part by the fact that they trend “red state,” conservative, etc. Another intriguing possibility, however, is that people with friends or relatives stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to get first-hand news about how things are going there, and are likely to place more credence in first-hand reports than in the pessimistic tale of woe they read in newspapers or see on television. With a little refinement, I’d bet one could prove that the more a person has access to direct, first-hand information on events in Iraq and Afghanistan, the more likely he is to support those efforts and, therefore, President Bush.
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