Harvard-Harris poll: Six in ten Americans doubt Biden's "mental fitness"

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The mainstream media may want to treat Joe Biden’s mental fitness as a verboten subject, but voters have pushed past that to draw their own conclusions. The latest Harvard-Harris poll has lots and lots of unpleasant news for Democrats heading into the midterms, as well as one odd piece of not-bad data, but this looks like an utter disaster in a cycle that will serve as a referendum on Biden’s performance. Almost two-thirds of voters think Biden’s too old for the job, and sixty percent doubt his mental fitness for the presidency:


Those numbers looked bad in May, and they’re only getting worse. The demos on these questions are equally disastrous as the topline numbers, too. Even among Democrats, 27% doubt Biden’s mental fitness and 34% think he’s too old for the job regardless. A later question shows 71% oppose a second Biden run for the presidency; they don’t include demos on that question, but clearly it has to include a substantial number of Democrats. Forty-five percent of that group say he shouldn’t run again because he’s a “bad president,” with another 30% saying he’s too old for the job.

As bad as these numbers are, though, it gets worse, and not just because both Biden and Kamala Harris lose head-to-head against Donald Trump. (They do, although the margins are basically in virtual-tie territory.) Voters are clearly unhappy, and they’re taking it out on Democrats. The right/wrong track has plunged to 24/70 from 30/62 just a month earlier, and the assessment of the economy’s direction has reached another record low at 21/71, as well as on economic strength (28/72). The number of respondents saying that they are personally worse off economically hit a new high of 64%, while those who say their personal situation is improving hit a new low of 16%.

Accordingly, Biden’s overall job approval rating dropped to a tie for the lowest in the series, 38/57, the latter a new high for overall disapproval. Biden’s issue ratings are almost all underwater except coronavirus response (50%):

  • Economy: 32%
  • Inflation: 28%
  • Running the administrative aspects of government: 38%
  • Immigration: 37%
  • Foreign affairs: 39%

And while the GOP’s approval rating keeps declining in this environment (45/55, down from 47/53), Democrats fare worse. Last month’s 44/56 has transformed in a few weeks to 40/60, tying the record worst rating in four years from February 2022. Oddly enough, however, Democrats still tie on the generic ballot 50/50, which is the only brief flash of good news in the entire poll.

What about abortion? There’s bad news here too, as Charles C.W. Cooke explains at National Review. Yes, 55% oppose the result of Dobbs, but they may end up happy enough with the result of the result of Dobbs, whether they realize it or not. Plus, it’s not moving the electoral needle at all:

Just 55 percent against? In this media environment? But when one adds in the subsequent questions in the poll, the case for Roe as a beneficial political settlement (which was made by Justice Breyer during oral arguments, by the majority in Casey, and by anyone who was too embarrassed to pretend Roe was law) falls apart. Out of the options presented to them, 72 percent of respondents said that they supported abortion up until 15 weeks — the exact issue at stake in Dobbs — while 49 percent went only to six weeks. Both of these view were incompatible with Roe, which means that, whether they knew it or not, many Americans said they supported Roe while opposing what Roe actually did.

Nor do Americans seem to be too upset with the Court, or with the GOP. The Democrats’ execrable “pack the Court” idea remains as unpopular as ever: Sixty-three percent of Americans consider the Court “legitimate,” and 59 believe the Democrats are wrong to say otherwise. And, when asked whether the overturning of Roe would have an effect on their vote in the midterm, the results are a wash. Thirty-six percent said it would make them more likely to vote for a Democrat, 36 percent said it would make them more likely to vote for a Republican, and 29 percent said it would have no effect.


It turns out that voters are more worried about their daily lived experiences in inflation and crime than in whether abortions should take place into the ninth month of pregnancy. And from this, it appears that voters are far more worried that the man pushed by Democrats into the top office is an incompetent codger in serious cognitive decline. And they should be.

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Stephen Moore 12:00 AM | February 22, 2024