Most men, and women, support allowing women to serve in combat roles but women tend to say that they should not have to register for the draft

This year, the military has seen dramatic change: it officially lifted the ban on women in combat in January after preparing for the change for nearly three years.  And the ban was lifted in every branch of the service, even the Marines, which had asked that the change not take place for them, citing their own research on military readiness.

The public overall is ready for the change in roles:  By nearly two to one, Americans favor allowing women in combat roles, and be directly involved in fighting on the ground.  Women are just as likely as men to support the change.  And while Republicans and conservatives -- and those 65 and older – give the idea the least support, just about half in each of those groups are in favor.

Americans haven’t liked the idea of a draft for a long time.  They opposed reinstating the military draft – which was abolished in 1973 – in the 1980’s and by 2010, opposed it by nearly four to one.  That opposition was clear as recently as a few months ago.

The draft itself may never be reinstated, but men are still required to register for its possible use when they turn 18.  Americans think women should do that too.   By 50% to 35% they agree that women should also be required to register with the Selective Service System.  

There is relative little difference on this by party, but there is a sizable gender gap.  And that gender gap is there for both younger and older respondents.  About six in ten men in every age group believe 18-year old women should register with the Selective Service, to be called up along with men if a draft is reinstated.  Women in every age group are closely divided, and just about as many oppose as support registering women.

See the Economist/YouGov results

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here. 

Related Content