Obama Outraises Romney Among Defense Donors

The president attracts gobs of campaign cash from Pentagon, but Romney still leads in the polls.

Obama_120511_04.jpg
By + More

As exhibited in Monday night's debate, President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney don't see eye-to-eye on how much the commander in chief should spend on the military.

[GALLERY: Obama, Romney Battle in Final Debate]

Obama has said he'd like to see $487 billion in defense cuts during the next decade, while Romney has said he'd increase baseline defense spending to 4 percent of gross domestic product.

But despite Obama's plans to slash defense spending, donors who work for the Pentagon and other military branches are still dumping substantially more into his war chest.

According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, Obama has raised $678,611 from defense personnel both civilian and uniformed employees, while Romney has raised just $398,450.

Employees at the U.S. Department of Defense gave the most to Obama, doling out roughly $175,000. Soldiers and sailors came in next, giving $165,646 and $86,656 respectively.

The donations are in stark contrast to polling showing Romney with a major lead over Obama when it comes to military support.

[READ: Military Vote Missing This Election — Including In Big Swing States]

A Military Times poll earlier this month showed Romney led Obama two to one. Those surveyed said the economy—not matters of national security—was a major reason they would vote for Romney.

Obama's fundraising lead among military personnel probably has a lot to do with the fact his military appointees are running DOD right now, says Peter Feaver, a political science professor at Duke University.

"These are not necessarily people who are in uniform giving to Obama, they are political appointees who come in with a party and they change when a new party comes in," Feaver says. "They got these jobs through political loyalty and donating is how they demonstrate they are loyal."

Mike Breen, vice president of the Democrat-leaning Truman National Security Project and Institute, says the president's accomplishments on foreign policy and veterans issues are the reason why he has collected so much money from military donors.

"For younger veterans and their families, they tend to support the president quite strongly," Breen says. "Obama has kept his promises to veterans. He said he would end the war in Iraq, and he did."

[READ: Romney, Obama Spar Over Foreign Policy in Final Debate]

Breen says it is also important to shed conceptions that military workers are a monolithic voting block. Older veterans who still work in military agencies served in Vietnam and Korea. They tend to be over 65, white males, who skew Republican.

But the upcoming generation of military workers are more progressive, Breen says.

"You have a generation who spent years dealing with a Republican administration that made a lot of mistakes," Breen says.

Jim Arkedis, a spokesman for Vet PAC, a group that supports Democratic candidates, says Obama's popularity among young military workers can be boiled down to a bullet point.

"He ordered a raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Like Vice President Joe Biden says, he has a back bone made of steel," Arkedis says. "This is one of the most difficult decisions any president could have made."

But Obama has not always led the charge for military campaign cash.

While the president has outraised Romney, Republican candidates this election cycle have earned more money from veterans of most branches of the military, including the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That is, in large part, because of Republican presidential nominee Ron Paul's strong military following.

Prior to his departure from the campaign, Paul had a monopoly on the military market. At one point, Paul raised nearly double the military campaign cash as Obama. It wasn't until March that Obama's campaign began making up ground.

 More News:

  • Witness Says Additional Security May Not Have Stopped Benghazi Attack
  • Clear Channel Announces Removal of Voter Fraud Billboard Ads
  • Romney Could Benefit As Youth Voters Lose Enthusiasm for Obama