Survey: Obama gets thumbs down from the troops

Obama attends a military briefing at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul on May 25.

Story highlights

  • Only 15% of active-duty troops approve of Obama's job as commander-in-chief, according to a Military Times survey
  • That's an all-time low for Obama, who ended 2009 with a 35% approval rating
  • An all-time high of 60% of servicemembers support gays serving openly in the military three years after DADT reversed
  • Only 1 in 10 believe Democrats and Republicans have their best interests at heart
President Barack Obama has struggled with sagging approval ratings over the last year, but the commander-in-chief's numbers may have dropped further among active-duty troops.
Just 15% of active-duty servicemembers gave Obama a thumbs up in the annual Military Times survey and more than half -- 55% -- say they disapprove of Obama's job as commander-in-chief. The President has struggled to gain the approval of troops throughout his time in office, but these numbers reflect a new low for Obama, who finished his first year in office with a 35% approval figure and only 4 in 10 disapproving, according to the Military Times survey. The Military Times survey is not scientific and relies on a voluntary response from the publication's readers. President Obama's approval rating in the general population is much higher, though still well below 50 percent. In the most recent CNN / ORC poll, he got the approval of 44% of Americans.
The Military Times survey also finds a lower approval rating than other polls of Americans connected with the military. A Washington Post / Kaiser Family Foundation poll of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan found approval of the President was lower than the general population, but much higher than 15 percent.
32% of veteran respondents in that April survey said they approved of the job President Obama was doing.
For these reasons, the Military Times survey may be more useful to show to show trends. It has been asking the same questions of its readers for ten years.
Troop morale has slumped during the Obama administration, falling to 56% this year from 91% who were satisfied with their quality of life in 2009. More than half of American troops believe they are underpaid today.
Obama: U.S.troops in Iraq not in combat
Obama: U.S.troops in Iraq not in combat

    JUST WATCHED

    Obama: U.S.troops in Iraq not in combat

MUST WATCH

Obama: U.S.troops in Iraq not in combat 01:45
CNN goes to Afghanistan with Chuck Hagel
CNN goes to Afghanistan with Chuck Hagel

    JUST WATCHED

    CNN goes to Afghanistan with Chuck Hagel

MUST WATCH

CNN goes to Afghanistan with Chuck Hagel 02:16
What is Obama's military strategy?
What is Obama's military strategy?

    JUST WATCHED

    What is Obama's military strategy?

MUST WATCH

What is Obama's military strategy? 04:11
But the publication's readers are more supportive of the social changes the President has enacted in the military.
Support among active-duty troops for allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the military has grown to 60% three years after "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was reversed. About 41% of servicemembers said some combat roles should be off-limits for women.
Obama's unpopularity among Military Times readers comes with sinking support for and trust in both major political parties. Nearly half of the active duty servicemembers surveyed said they believe both the Republican and Democratic parties have become less supportive of military issues.
Only about 1 in 10 said the two parties "have the armed forces' best interests at heart," according to the Military Times.
The survey revealed another interesting trend in troops' political identities, revealing that fewer identify as Republicans and more are calling themselves libertarians or independents today.
But that hasn't stopped them from missing their previous commander-in-chief, President George W. Bush. About two-thirds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans said Bush was a good commander in chief compared to 42% for Obama, according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll in April.