Half of US military now disapprove of Trump, poll shows

Declining support from troops comes after Syria withdrawal and White House move to pay for border wall with military funds

Vincent Wood
Wednesday 18 December 2019 11:06
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Half of US military personnel disapprove of Donald Trump as commander in chief — a poll of the armed forces has suggested amid opposition to the president’s sudden withdrawal from Syria and his approach to building a wall on the Mexican border.

The president has repeatedly touted his support for the troops – telling services members in June “I can tell you, there's nobody that respects the military more than your President, Donald Trump”.

However, it appears the feeling is not necessarily mutual. A poll of 1,630 active duty troops conducted by US forces publication Military Times in conjunction with Syracuse University found 49.9 per cent of respondents had an unfavourable view of the president — with 45.1 per cent expressing their view as very unfavourable.

Meanwhile, just 41.5 per cent of military personnel said they had a favourable opinion of Mr Trump, falling just lower than his rating among the general public according to a poll off polls from FiveThirtyEight.

When asked about specific military policies, 58 per cent said they disapproved of the president’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria — a move that created a power vacuum that was quickly exploited by Russia and Turkey, with the latter going on to attack America’s Kurdish allies in the north of the country.

And 59 per cent said they disapproved of Mr Trump’s decision to pay for his Mexican border wall with military construction funds — a work around deployed by the White House after congress refused to rubber stamp funding for the project, which is predicted to cost anywhere from $20bn to $50bn ​(£15.2bn to £38bn).

The poll marks a sharp decline in the president’s popularity among military personnel compared to previous years – in 2018 the same survey found 59 per cent were happy with Mr Trump, while 20 per cent disapproved.

It has also highlighted the gap in opinions between white and non-white servicemen, with some 46 per cent of white troops expressing a favourable view of the president, compared to the nearly two-thirds of non-white respondents who had a negative opinion of him.

Of the female service members polled, 56 per cent said they disapproved of Mr Trump.

It is also the first poll of the military since his decision to fire former secretary for defence James Mattis, who himself enjoys an approval rating of 86 per cent among the forces despite having been out of the job since January.

Mr Trump’s elected replacement, Mark Esper, carries a 24 per cent approval – with 56 per cent of respondents having no opinion either way.

The president might take some solace from the fact his overall approval rating stands higher than that of his predecessor Barack Obama — who finished his second term with unfavourables of 51.5 per cent after advocating for the downsizing of the armed forces.

However, a greater percentage advocated an extreme dislike of Mr Trump than they did of the last Democratic president — who had a very unfavourable rating of 29.1 per cent.

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