Servicemembers Back Gen. Mattis Presidential Bid

Gen. James Mattis watches as Gen. Michael Hagee leaves in a Blackhawk helicopter in Iraq on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2003. (AP)

Servicemembers are clinging onto hope that retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis will throw his name into the presidential race despite his decision last month to cancel out a third-party bid.

More than half—52 percent—of service members supported an independent Mattis ticket, responding to a Military Times survey that his addition to the 2016 race would be a "positive development" in 2016’s contentious political environment.

A mere 16 percent of the 948 troops surveyed said a Mattis candidacy would have a negative impact on the race while 32 percent responded that it wouldn’t have an impact.

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Several military members said they would write in the retired general’s name regardless of whether his name is on the ticket.

Last month, conservative billionaires established a coalition aimed at pulling Mattis into the race as a third-party contender in an attempt to blunt Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s momentum.

But Mattis decided not to take the bait, announcing three weeks later that he would not enter the race.

"The thoughtfulness and patriotism—and for that matter, the modesty—Jim showed as he reflected on this decision make me more convinced than ever that he would have made a truly admirable president, and also a good candidate," Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol wrote in an email obtained by the New York Times. "But it’s not to be. So we won’t have a President Mattis."

Support for Mattis was highest among Marines with 71 percent responding that his candidacy would positively impact the race, according to the Military Times survey.

The majority of Republicans—53 percent—also predicted a Mattis run would be positive while only 22 percent said it would negatively effect the race.

Among Democrats, 49 percent said it would have zero impact.

Nicknamed "Mad Dog" by his troops, Mattis served in the military for 44 years and was dubbed the "most revered Marine general" in a generation by the Military Times.