Majority of voters, plurality of Democrats say Biden is too old to run again

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

A new Yahoo News/You Gov poll confirms what is obvious to most people. President Biden is really old, too old according to a majority to run for president again.

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Nearly 7 in 10 registered voters (68%) now say President Biden is “too old for another term,” according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll — and more Democrats agree (48%) than disagree (34%) with that assessment.

The survey of 1,516 U.S. adults, which was conducted from Feb. 23 to 27, underscores the central challenge facing the oldest president in American history as he gears up for a likely reelection bid — and the difficult position his age is putting his party in.

For Democrats, the problem is not Biden’s performance in office; they overwhelmingly approve (77%) rather than disapprove (20%) of how the 80-year-old is handling the job.

So Democrats like what Biden is doing and even so a near majority of them think he’s too old. The story also includes this graph of results which includes how respondents felt about Donald Trump’s age as well. If elected again, Trump would be the same age Biden was when he began his term and would be the same age Biden will be in 2024. Take a look at these results.

First of all, it shouldn’t be a surprise that many more people feel Biden would be too old in 2024 than that Trump would be too old. Biden is four years older and we’ve seen him visibly struggle a number of times in the past two years while Trump has mostly been out of sight and out of mind.

When you get to the partisan results both sides are tap-dancing a bit. Fifty-eight percent of Democrats say Trump, at age 78, is too old but only 48% say the same about Biden at 82. That makes no sense as a response to a question about age. Obviously they’re dragging in other factors beyond age. Similarly, only 32% of Republicans say Trump is too old but 85% say the same about Biden. Again, I think some of that is reasonable given that Biden is four years older and has been visibly struggling, but respondents on both sides are clearly giving more benefit of the doubt to their guy (or potential guy) than the other guy.

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No matter how you slice it, this is a more acute problem for Biden. In 2020, the same poll asked respondents if they were concerned about Biden’s mental acuity. At the time just 28% said they were very or somewhat concerned. Two years later, 40% of Democrats say they are very or somewhat concerned. That’s obviously a problem for Biden as it’s hard to see how he’s going to win those people back at this point. They’ve seen what they’ve seen.

On the other hand, as I’ve discussed before, the best thing Biden has going for him is the lack of a real alternative.

If forced to choose between Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for the nomination, more than twice as many Democrats and Democratic leaners say they would pick Biden (53%) over Harris (24%). And “if Joe Biden does not run for reelection,” nearly half say they would rather see “someone else” as the nominee (49%) than Harris (36%)…

The vice president is nonetheless the most popular answer (25%) among Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters when asked which of seven high-profile candidates they would “rather see as the Democratic nominee” if “Joe Biden does not run for reelection.” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders all register at 12%; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (8%), Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (5%) and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (5%) are stuck in single digits.

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So, despite the concern, which is absolutely warranted at this point, Biden is going to be the nominee. They’ve got no one else. That’s a shame because I think Biden is already pushing his luck. While I don’t love his politics I don’t want to see him pushed into an untenable position regarding his health because of political necessity. We’ve already seen that happen to John Fetterman and it’s not pretty.

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David Strom 8:00 AM | July 25, 2024
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