Defense Employees Favored Carson, at Least Until West Point Flap
A survey of U.S. defense workers showed favoritism for the current GOP 2016 frontrunner, but that was before one of his biggest gaffes yet.
A recent survey of federal workers showed Ben Carson was the most liked presidential candidate of either party among Defense Department employees, but that could change after recent media attention highlighted his apparent exaggeration of receiving an “offer” to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
A Politico story published Friday claimed the retired neurosurgeon admitted to lying about his application and acceptance to West Point, though Carson’s campaign now says it made no such admission. Carson has said in his books and campaign events that he was offered a full scholarship to the academy, but opted instead to pursue a medical career. West Point does not offer scholarships, however, as all cadets receive free tuition in exchange for later military service.
Carson was never offered admittance to the school because he never applied. The presidential frontrunner instead told The New York Times he was informally told, as a 17-year-old high school student in the Junior ROTC program, he would qualify for a scholarship by Gen. William Westmoreland.
The story created a firestorm in the political media, and Carson’s camp was aggressive in its attempts to put out the flames. The exaggeration could still have a significant impact, however, especially among those in the defense community.
About 55 percent of Defense Department employees viewed Carson favorably, according to a recent poll conducted by Government Executive’s research arm, Government Business Council, a full 10 points higher than the next closest candidate.
The GBC survey was conducted Oct. 14-20. Carson trailed only Donald Trump among Defense employees when asked who they would vote for if the Republican primary were held at the time they took the survey. Those two candidates far out-performed any other Republican in the poll.
In a theoretical general election matchup between Carson and Hillary Clinton, the political outsider held a considerable 53-36 lead over the former secretary of State among all DoD employees.
Whether his strong numbers will continue to hold up despite his questionable claims connecting himself to military recruitment remains to be seen. Government Executive will continue to poll the federal workforce throughout the 2016 campaign.