Much has been written about George W. Bush’s razor-thin margin of victory in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, but one key factor in the outcome has been largely overlooked. If Eglin Air Force Base had been in Alabama rather than the Sunshine State’s western Panhandle, Al Gore would have become president. The lopsided majorities that Bush piled up in the counties around Eglin and the naval bases at Jacksonville were enough to win Republicans the state’s 25 Electoral College votes, and thus deny Democrats the White House. Ever since the All Volunteer Force was instituted in the 1970s, military voters and their dependents have trended increasingly conservative — so much so that they can provide the margin of victory for Republicans in swing states where there is a big military presence. Recent voting patterns in Florida, which now has more than a tenth of the Electoral College votes needed to secure the presidency, illustrate how military voters could hand Mitt Romney the White House in this year’s election. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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