Iraq as Election issue in Ohio
Leo Shane II reports that many local voters continue to be concerned with the Iraq war as an issue even when it no longer affects them personally. In this sense, the current troop shift, whereby tens of thousands of National Guardsmen are being sent to Iraq for a year, could be a factor in the election.
(Guardsmen typically thought they would be serving weekends and some summer weeks, and if they pulled a tour overseas, it would be for 6 months. The Guards were not sent to Vietnam, but have been sent to Iraq. Many Guardsmen are plunged into poverty by such a tour, losing their small businesses or substantial parts of their salaries, and some even lose their homes because they can’t keep up the mortgage payments. Then there is the issue of putting their lives on the line even though no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have been found . . .)
Ordinarily a large majority of the military and the National Guards probably vote Republican. A lot of them are upset over having been given long, dangerous duty in Iraq, at a time when that country turns out not to have posed any threat to the US. If you figure that by October some 200,000 Americans will have served long terms in Iraq, and you extrapolate that out to five close family members each, that would be at least a million citizens directly affected. If even half of them turned against Bush over the issue, that would be 500,000. The country is so evenly divided politically that such numbers may matter.