WASHINGTON — U.S. troops, stationed both abroad and in the US, have donated more money to Democrat Barack Obama than to decorated war hero Republican John McCain, a study published Thursday showed.
The study by the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan research group, showed that by the end of June, Obama had received six times more from soldiers stationed abroad than Vietnam war veteran McCain, who comes from a prestigious military family.
Even McCain's former rival for the Republican nomination, Ron Paul, who opposed the Iraq war, had managed to garner more funds.
Obama had received some 60,642 dollars in donations from soldiers stationed abroad, while McCain had just 10,665 dollars, the study said.
Paul, who failed early in the Republican primaries to attract as much support as McCain, was given some 45,512 dollars for his campaign.
Across all troops, Obama's campaign also attracted more funding than his rivals, bringing in some 335,000 dollars compared to 280,000 for McCain. Only in the Marine Corps is McCain leading Obama, by some 4,000 dollars.
"That's shocking," Aaron Belkin, a professor of political science at the University of California who studies the military, told the center.
"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."
But Jason Dempsey, a former professor at the West Point military academy, said that the number of individual donations, just 323, was too small to draw any conclusions.
"If, on a bad day, a guy gets that letter that says (his tour has been extended) from 12 to 15 months, that could spur a quick donation and expression of anger," he said. "Donating helps members of the military express their political views privately."
Obama has said that if elected to the White House he would withdraw most troops from Iraq within 16 months. McCain, who supports the war, says the U.S. needs to remain on the ground until their work is done and has resisted setting any timetable for a pullout.
The center also stressed that it had only totaled up donations of 200 dollars or more, which meant the study was probably more reflective of thinking among ranking officers.
Copyright 2008 AFP