By Jeremy Herb - 10/08/12 02:48 PM EDT
Mitt Romney has a 40-point lead over President Obama among active and reserve service members, according to a new poll from the Military Times.
The survey found Romney with a wide 66-26 lead that is similar to the advantage enjoyed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) over Obama in the 2008 race.
For military voters, the economy was by far the most important issue, with 41 percent of respondents saying it was most important issue for them in the upcoming race. National security came in at just 16 percent.
The Military Times poll surveyed 3,100 active duty, National Guard and reserve troops via email who subscribe to the paper.
Both campaigns have made an active pitch to veterans, particularly in battleground states such as Florida that have a heavy military presence. Romney has consistently led in polls among veterans as well.
The Military Times poll found respondents were most critical of Obama on the defense budget, but also disapproved of his handling of the war in Afghanistan by a 2-to-1 margin.
The troops supported his decision to keep the U.S. military out of the Syrian conflict 44 to 38 percent, and were split the other way, 36-47, on the withdrawal from Iraq.
Poll respondents disapproved of the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy preventing gays from serving openly in the military. Fifty-three percent disapproved of the repeal compared to 34 percent who approved of it.