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Analysis Conducted by the George Washington University Forecasts that Military Service Among Members of Congress is Likely to Increase Post-Election

November 02, 2012

MEDIA CONTACTS: Jill Sankey
202-994-6466; jpsankey@gwu.edu
Seth Lynn
202-495-1831; sethlynn@gwu.edu

WASHINGTON - Next week’s presidential election will likely result in a net gain of veterans serving in the House of Representatives, according to an analysis conducted by the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management’s Center for Second Service. If this occurs, it will be the first such increase since 1980. 

“We are seeing the vanguard of a new generation of veterans in elected office,” said Seth Lynn, director of George Washington’s Center for Second Service, which trains military veterans on how to get involved in electoral politics. “Pundits have been predicting that veteran candidates would fare worse now that national security is no longer the focus. But of greater importance than veterans’ national security credentials is their ability to inspire America’s confidence.”

There are currently 92 veterans in the House of Representatives. This year, 189 veterans have received their party’s Congressional nomination. According to the analysis, between 92 and 100 of the 189 veterans are expected to win, although this number could be lower if a Democratic sweep of “lean Republican” districts were to occur. The current number of veteran House nominees remains virtually unchanged from 190 during the 2010 election, and has been relatively stable since 2000. This year, however, more nominees are running in winnable races - that is, districts that are not considered “safe” for the opposing party.

“While voters have grown increasingly frustrated by Congress over the last decade, they’ve watched our men and women in uniform unfailingly do what the country has asked of them, even when doing so puts them in imminent danger,” said Mr. Lynn. “Americans are effectively saying that these are the people we need to fix Washington.”

Also of note, nine of the veteran nominees are women, of which eight are Democrats. Of these nine, three have a significant chance of winning. In 2010, only three women veterans received a major party’s nomination, and only three women veterans have ever served in Congress.

Apart from women veterans, the Democrats’ share of veteran nominees is currently just over one third and has been steadily decreasing since 2006 when each party nominated approximately the same number of veterans. Republicans have concurrently begun claiming a larger share of the veteran members of the House. While in 2010, party affiliations of veterans in Congress were evenly split (48 Republicans and 47 Democrats), today nearly three quarters of the veterans in the House are Republicans. This partisan split is unlikely to change significantly post-election. The Republicans’ higher share of veteran Members of Congress is due in part to the party’s higher number veteran nominees, but also because more Republican veterans have been nominated for winnable seats. Of the 47 Democratic challengers with military service, only 15 percent are running in winnable districts, whereas nearly 30 percent of veteran challengers in the GOP have been nominated for winnable races.

The Center for Second Service and its partner organization, Veterans Campaign, plan to release additional analysis after the election. Additional information and analysis is available online.

The Center for Second Service (GW Charter Pending) is a new program of the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management that provides members and veterans of the United States Armed Forces with training and education resources to enable them to continue their commitment to public service. The center builds on the success of GW’s partnership with the nonprofit Veterans Campaign and has seen several of its alumni successfully campaign for elected office. With an enhanced offering of training and education opportunities, the Center for Second Service is a premiere destination for veterans looking for a new opportunity to serve.

In the heart of the nation's capital with additional programs in Virginia, the George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. The university offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study, as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and more than 130 countries.

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