The election season is here and one of the groups that should most interest politicians are the military households that have VA loans and other benefits from their service.
To understand the importance of the military community there are two factors to consider.
First, as November looms ahead it’s usually argued that there are nine swing states which will determine the presidential election. These states include Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Second, there are currently 1.63 million outstanding VA loans and their distribution gives us a good idea where military households, both active and retired, can be found. The top five states for VA financing are Texas (199,788 VA loans), Florida (114,088), Virginia (112,624), North Carolina (103,391) and California (87,653).
The Real Election Battle
Of the states where VA loans are most concentrated three are battleground areas — Florida, Virginia and North Carolina. And, as it turns out, it will be tough for either President Obama or Gov. Romney to win the election without capturing the electoral votes represented by these three swing states.
To win the presidency you need 270 electoral votes. In some states the outcome is pretty much locked up — pollsters are entirely certain that Maryland will vote Democratic while Mississippi will support a Republican ticket.
The real battle is in the swing states. Win them and you win the presidency.
Of the three battleground states with large concentrations of military households Florida has 29 electoral votes, Ohio is in with 18 and Virginia has 13. That’s a total of 60 electoral votes.
But given large populations in each jurisdiction it may seem that the number and impact of military households is limited but that’s not the case. Each swing state is exactly that, a block of electoral votes which potentially could go to either major candidate.
That means each state is somewhat like a company with three shareholders, two each control 49.5 percent of the stock while the third owns 1 percent. If the two major shareholders have disagreements it’s the owner with the smallest stake who tips the balance.
Military households are politically important. On average there is more than one vote per household with a VA loan and members of the military have expansive networks with friends, co-workers and family.
Politicians know this so if you live in a swing state your phone will be more than busy during the next few weeks and your mailbox will be stuffed with letters and fliers. It’s why you see so many political rallies for vets and military households.
What we’re seeing is a combination of politics and targeted marketing. And that’s okay, it’s how the system works. You can play too. Vote for the candidates of your choice.
Photo courtesy League of Women Voters of California