President Donald Trump has the lowest approval rating among active-duty military personnel since winning the 2016 election, a new Military Times survey shows, fueled by his handling of key defense issues over the past year.
Trump's approval rating was 42%, versus 50% unfavorable, in the survey released Wednesday.
He had a 46% positive rating after his November 2016 election, compared with a 37% negative rating.
Last year, President Trump's approval rating was 44% and 43% disapproval.
But President Trump's approval rate in the latest Military Times survey was higher than President Barack Obama's when he left office in January 2017: 36% favorable to 52% unfavorable.
The Military Times surveyed 1,630 active-duty subscribers between Oct. 23 and Dec. 2 with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University for its latest survey. The poll has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.
Since the 2018 survey, President Trump fired Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general; ordered a sudden withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria that brought strong bipartisan criticism; granted clemency to three servicemen accused of war crimes, over the objections of key Pentagon leaders; and faced an impeachment investigation over allegedly delaying military aid to Ukraine.
"Over time, as the president has been involved with more controversial things connected to the military — whether it's the border wall or the pardons or the way that Secretary Mattis left — that has changed the view of him," retired Marine Col. Dave Lapan told the Military Times.
He served as a Defense Department spokesman for the Trump and Obama administrations.
"And they've seen more indications that he hasn't been a great commander-in-chief," Lapan said. "So, they're moving closer to where the rest of the public is."
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