Biden Too Old! Trump Pretty Old Too!

Another poll showing the same thing as the other polls.

YahooNews (“Poll: 68% of voters say Biden is ‘too old for another term’ — and more Democrats agree than disagree“):

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.

Registered voters who are Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents also say they would prefer to renominate Biden for president (47%) rather than “someone else” (34%) — a reversal from the latter part of last year, when a plurality of Democratsrepeatedlysaid they would prefer someone else. The 47% who now say they would rather nominate Biden is the highest number since November 2021.

That Biden is simultaneously a pretty good President and too goddamned old to be President is one of life’s great mysteries. Indeed, he was too old to be President in 2020 and yet, here we are with him being a pretty good President in 2023.

Yet despite viewing Biden favorably, many Democrats seem wary of what comes next. Asked in June 2020 “how concerned” they were “about Joe Biden’s health and mental acuity,” just 28% of Democrats said they were either somewhat (10%) or very concerned (18%); the other 72% said they were either slightly (28%) or not at all concerned (44%).

Today, more than two and a half years later, the combined number of somewhat or very concerned Democrats has risen 12 points to about 40%, while the combined number who are slightly or not at all concerned has fallen by the same amount, to about 60%.

This shift likely reflects Biden’s increasing age and related fears about how it might affect his chances in 2024.

Age may be “just a number” but 80 is unequivocally older than 77. It’s math! Plus, the odometer moving in the decades place is obviously more significant than when it moves in the years place. He was in his 70s then. He’s in his 80s now!

The Yahoo News/YouGov poll suggests that Democrats have reason to worry. A majority of registered voters (56%) now agree that “there is an age at which somebody is too old to be president” (up from 50% in June 2020), and 45% choose 80 or younger as the age they consider too old for the job.

Among independents — the key voting group that often decides elections — 60% say someone can be too old for the presidency, and a majority (54%) set that threshold at 80 or younger.

Honestly, I’d set it at 70 were I rating a theoretical candidate. The ideal theoretical President should be somewhere in the 53 to 63 range when taking office. But here we have actual candidates to assess.

After being informed that “Joe Biden would be 82 at the start of his second term and 86 at the end of it” — a fact that Republicans are sure to bring up frequently in 2024 — a full 68% of registered voters and 71% of independents say the president is too old for another term.

Just 46% of independents (and 45% of all registered voters) say the same when told Trump would be “78 at the start of his second term and 82 at the end of it.”

Likewise, only 39% of independents (and 46% of all registered voters) say they’re either somewhat or very concerned about Trump’s “health and mental acuity.” In contrast, 68% of independents (and 65% of all registered voters) say they’re either somewhat or very concerned about Biden’s physical and mental condition. This is despite the fact that Biden was recently deemed quite healthy by the White House physician.

Here’s what it looks like graphically:

That Republicans overwhelmingly think Biden is too old is hardly shocking. Ditto that Democrats mostly think Trump too old.

What’s amusing is that more Democrats think Trump too old than think Biden too old even though they’ve been read their actual ages and Trump is four years younger. It’s simply not mathematically possible for Trump to be too old and not Biden!

Mental competence, of course, is a different issue.

Possibly as a result, more Americans (42%) now say Trump “has the competence to carry out the job of president” than say the same about Biden (35%). The last time Yahoo News and YouGov asked this question, in August 2021, the share who said Biden had the “competence” to serve as president was 11 points higher than it is today (46%).

Again, this result is just weird. The partisan skew is, again, not surprising and, indeed, explains most of the topline result. But across the board we find that fewer people question Biden or Trump’s mental acuity—presumably the thing that we’re trying to get at with the age question—than think they’re “too old.”

Regardless, a funny thing happens:

Regardless of how much they favor the president’s policies or personality, Democrats seem keenly aware of this conundrum — which likely explains why just 41% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say that Biden would be “the Democratic Party’s strongest nominee for president in 2024.”

The catch is that when asked specifically about “other possible candidates” — none of whom will run if Biden opts in — Democrats don’t actually see any of the alternatives as stronger than the president.

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%).

Biden is too old! We should get someone better to run!


I dunno. Not that person.

When it comes to electability, these Democratic voters may have a point. Simply swapping Harris’s name for Biden’s as the Democratic nominee does not improve the party’s standing in various general-election matchups.

While 45% of registered voters say they might or would definitely support Biden if he were the Democratic nominee, slightly fewer (43%) say they might or would definitely support Harris. The number who say they would definitely support Biden (31%) is significantly larger than the number who say they would definitely support Harris (25%).

Pitted against Trump, Harris (42%) performs slightly worse than Biden (43%), and she garners even less support (40% to Biden’s 42%) against Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Biden currently trails both potential Republican nominees by 2 percentage points; Harris trails Trump by 3 and DeSantis by 5.

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.

Look, I’m a pretty rational person, sometimes to a fault. I’m in the same boat as the folks I’m poking fun at here. I, too, think 82 is too damn old to be working, let alone running the goddamn country. And I think Biden has clearly lost a couple of steps since his days as Vice President.

But, honestly, there’s nobody on that list that I’d prefer as President over a somewhat diminished Biden. And I think Biden is the Democratic candidate most likely to beat Trump or any other plausible Republican nominee in 2024.

FILED UNDER: Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Tony W says:

    The “senility” meme, which was clearly projection about Trump’s actual, documented mental and cognitive decline, has taken hold in much the same way that their 25-year campaign against Hillary Clinton took hold.

    Republicans are masterful at character assassination and other distractions. Until the Ds hold their feet to the fire on governance and policy, they will be letting the Rs control the conversation.

  2. CSK says:

    The right-wing “news” and websites are constantly hammering home the notion that Biden is a senile, doddering old sexual pervert who’s lost control of his mental and bodily functions. (I won’t get graphic about the latter.) Trump, on the other hand, is presented as youthful, healthy, vigorous, and sharp-witted.

  3. MarkedMan says:

    Biden’s age does concern me, but largely because he’s signing up for another 4 year term which starts almost two years from now, and we don’t get a year by year review of how he is doing. I don’t have any concern about his current capabilities – quite the opposite. He, along with Pelosi (82) and Schumer (72) did a lot better than I expected with the slimmest of majorities.

    But quite frankly a lot of the “he’s too old” comments strike me as having an element of bigotry to them. “The old” should get out of the way. They are annoying to have around. Other, younger people deserve those jobs that the older people have striven for over a lifetime. Why? Because old people are less deserving than younger people.

  4. James Joyner says:

    @Tony W: @CSK: Even if we assume that all Republicans watch Fox News all the time, it doesn’t account for the fact that Democrats, Independents, and two-thirds of Americans writ large think Biden is too old. Or, conversely, why only 63% of Republicans are concerned about Biden’s mental acuity but 85% think he’s too old.

  5. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: I think it’s because we’ve all seen people rapidly decline in their 70s. I don’t know that anyone is more capable at 75 or 85 than they were at 55; if they are, something was seriously wrong when they were 55.

  6. charon says:

    It’s simply not mathematically possible for Trump to be too old and not Biden!

    This is a profoundly stupid statement that disregards the relative health status (physical and mental) of the two.

    Recall that meeting in Europe where all the heads of state walked – except for Trump in a golf cart?

    Which has the greater life expectancy from here on out?

    In any case, this discussion is a bit pointless given the absence of a plausible alternative to Biden.

  7. James Joyner says:


    It’s possible for Trump to be less healthy than Biden; indeed, I think he is. It’s possible for Trump to be showing more signs of mental decline than Biden; indeed, I think he is. But age is literally a number. Biden is four years older than Trump so there’s simply no way for Trump to be “too old” and not Biden.

    Indeed, as noted in the OP, people think they’re “old” beyond thinking they’re of diminished mental acuity by a significant margin.

  8. Cheryl Rofer says:

    Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

    MEDIA ON BIDEN: Biden is too old. Look at how old Biden is. Biden is too old.


    POLL: Do you think Biden is too old?


    If we’re going to push polls we like, I saw a screenshot of poll results from a teevee show, and voters thought that Democrats handled many issues better than Republicans. That’s what I’ll lead with going forward.

  9. Sleeping Dog says:

    Biden’s age is what it is and if he runs, it will be an issue. One benefit of TFG capturing the R nomination is that the age question is minimized and the competency question comes to the forefront. As a Dem, I’ll take that comparison.

    But yes, both Biden and trump are too damn old.

    Regarding polling on this type of issue, only two things are interesting, how are the non-partisans leaning and what is the deviation from the expected results in partisan opinion

  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Just for grins, I will add that in the opening credits of the old television show My Little Margie, Margie states that she’s worried about her dad not being able to take care of himself and his declining health, noting that “he’s almost 50 you know.”

    On the other hand, the only people who are saying “But quite frankly a lot of the “he’s too old” comments strike me as having an element of bigotry to them.” are Boomers, Silents, and Supreme Court justices from the 70s. Fortunately, the law is on our side. (H/T Supreme Court justices from the 70s)

  11. Kathy says:

    Biden could live to be 100, and be mentally fit and in reasonable physical shape every day until then.

    Or he might decline gradually to the point he begins to match Benito in mental acuity. there’s just no way to tell.

  12. charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    I suppose I am just being obtuse, but age (to me, anyway) is relevant only to the extent it correlates with mental acuity and life expectancy and healthy functioning.

  13. Jen says:

    People age differently. My MIL is 80 and has a number of medical issues–more than my father, who is 86. While I don’t want either of them running the country, I can wrap my mind around the notion that between two people, the younger CAN seem physically older than the chronologically older one.

  14. Scott F. says:

    Biden’s age doesn’t concern me in good part because I would be perfectly happy to have Harris succeed him should he be unable to complete his term. Kamala Harris on her worst days would still be a much better President than Trump or DeSantis or Haley.

    Beyond the fitness for office question, I’ve come to believe the only way the US will get a woman as POTUS is through succession, as there is far too much misogyny in the general electorate to seat a woman through the ballot box. I’d actually like to see President Harris name Pete Buttigieg as her VP, just so I could watch the MAGA types’ heads explode across the country.

  15. EddieInCA says:

    Every single person who answers “Biden is too old” needs to then answer the questions, “If not Biden, who?”

    Still looking for the one name.

    @Beth tossed out Newsom yesterday. He’d lose to Trump. He’s my Governor and I’m a fan. But, right now, in this environment, Newsom would lose Ohio, FL, GA, PA, and WI to Trump and would lose the electoral college pretty handily.

    So I’ll keep beating the drum… “If not Biden, who?”

    Give me a name.

  16. Jen says:

    @Scott F.:

    Beyond the fitness for office question, I’ve come to believe the only way the US will get a woman as POTUS is through succession, as there is far too much misogyny in the general electorate to seat a woman through the ballot box.

    I agree. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some version of “she’s qualified, but I just don’t see her as President.” I’ve heard this from men who are independents, Democrats and Republicans any party’s respective women candidates. It’s like there’s a mental block…say, a “glass ceiling” that women just can’t get past.

    I’d actually like to see President Harris name Pete Buttigieg as her VP,

    That would be amazing, for the sheer heads-exploding value.

  17. Jen says:

    I’d like for Biden to win reelection, then cite some personal/health concern and resign making Harris president. As noted above, I think that the first female president this country will see will have to be through a succession process like this, rather than outright election.

  18. Scott says:

    @EddieInCA: I know this is completely shallow of me but whenever I see Newsome, something in my brain goes no, I don’t think so. Yeah, based on looks alone. Go figure.

    I also have this song lyric pop into my mind:

    I saw a werewolf drinkin’ a piña colada at Trader Vic’s
    His hair was perfect

  19. EddieInCA says:


    100%. Can you imagine what the GOP will do to Newsome in this environment? Think of his ex-wife, who is currently Donald Trump Jr.s girlfriend, on Fox every day talking about how many different ways of horrible Newsome is/was.

  20. just nutha says:

    @EddieInCA: Sure, but even if I give you a name (or several, like the author of the Atlantic piece I linked to yesterday did [eyeroll]), your response will be “What??!!???? You think THAT PERSON is qualified????!!!??!?”

    It’s a trick question.

    Mind you, I don’t have a suggestion and don’t care who runs. I just threw the bomb yesterday. My work here is done.

  21. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Scott: Long live the memory of Warren Zevon!

  22. just nutha says:

    @Jen: It may be more pathetic than you imagine. The first woman elected President is likely to be conservative and Republican, and the Rush Limbaugh of the era will have a field day calling out the libs for their misogyny and bias against conservatives, and particularly conservative women.

  23. CSK says:

    @just nutha:
    That’s actually what I believe.

  24. EddieInCA says:

    @just nutha:

    I’m glad you dropped the bomb. It’s a discussion that needs to be had.

    Count me in the camp that thinks Biden, despite the successes, is too old for another term. But I just don’t see anyone on the Dem bench who can win against the Trump 30% in the electoral college. It’s odd in that all the things that have happened with Trump lately has only seemed to strengthen him with his base – if you believe the three most recent polls, which I do.

    The Dem bench is weak nationally.

    My larger point that it’s always easy to say “We don’t want that person.” until you ask “Okay, then who?” It’s a lovely parlor game to say “Biden is too old to run.” Okay. I agree with anyone who says that. But crickets anyone is asked who this magical Democrat is who can win the Democratic nomination and win the electoral college other than the incumbent Democratic president?

    I’ll drop it now.

  25. Andy says:

    If you look at Reagan, for instance, who was a decade younger than Biden, he declined rapidly after winning reelection for a second term. Rapid declines can happen at any time and six years is a long time for someone who is currently 80. One shouldn’t ignore or downplay the risk.

    And Biden will now have to actually campaign, which is grueling for anyone, instead of the 2020 election in which he could campaign from the comfort of his home. One bad “senior moment” during the campaign could doom Biden’s chances. Remember how a weird, excited yell, by Howard Dean ended his political run?

    And yes, all things being equal, Biden is probably – at this point – best positioned to beat Trump should he get the nomination. But the election isn’t being held now and things can change rapidly in the next 18+months.

    And then there is DeSantis. Age will become a much more relevant issue if he wins the nomination – and I think he is much more likely to get the nomination than most believe. Partisan Democrats may not like to hear it, but if DeSantis is nominated, age will be a factor for independents, who are a large enough cohort to decide the election. And if DeSantis wins, he could also very well bring #neverTrumpers back into the GoP fold.

    Now, I like Biden and I voted for him. And if it came down to Biden vs. Trump I would likely vote for him again if nothing changes in the next 18 months. But I can’t ignore the age-related risks and therefore Kamala Harris becomes a much bigger factor.

    If Biden decides to run, it would be dumb for anyone to oppose him, but people still need to consider the risks. Hope is not a strategy. Biden’s team should get ahead of the issue and start working on making Harris appear more competent and appealing to assure people that if something were to happen to Biden that Harris will be ready to take the reins. Whatever you think of Harris, the fact of the matter is that she isn’t popular and people will be factoring in VP choice more this election, given the ages. So at least work on improving her image.

    In my view, the best case for Biden personally is to decide not to run. For one thing, Presidential second terms are generally nothing to write home about. Little of significance gets accomplished and it’s when scandals are most likely to happen. Retiring from the Presidency would also give him historical iconic status as an elder statesmen who accomplished much in four years and righted the ship from the Trump years. He could then spend time with his family and maybe help out his troubled son.

    It would give a new generation of Democratic leaders a chance to compete. Yes, there is no obvious replacement for Biden right now, yet in 2008 a back-bench Senator few had heard of ended up winning the nomination and two terms. No obvious alternative will ever come out until candidates have a chance to prove themselves in a campaign. The idea that the Democratic party is bereft of talent to compete with Trump except for Joe Biden is almost certainly wrong.

    But that seems unlikely. Biden has always been a politician and he doesn’t know anything else, so I think he will run.

  26. just nutha says:

    @EddieInCA: I’m more inclined to go toward the notion that, as is true for many other professions/jobs/roles, it’s difficult to predict who will perform well in and that performance will still vary by venue, situation, point in history, and any number of other variables. TL/DR: It’s always a situation of “you pays yo’ money and you takes yo’ chances.”

  27. just nutha says:

    @Andy: [CRT Trigger Warning!!!!]
    I’m sorry, but convincing liberal white Americans that a black woman who has only held supporting roles in the past and is currently holding a position that has been unfavorably compared to putting one’s hand “in a warm bucket of spit,” is ready to take over as President might be too challenging even if party and WH leadership wanted to do it.

  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    The SS actuarial tables give Biden 8.6 more years, and Trump 10.8. That is a 2.2 year difference. Looking at outward signs of health, Biden is likely to outlive Trump. IOW, Trump has the bigger problem with age.

  29. Scott F. says:


    The Dem bench is weak nationally.

    Compared to the Republican bench????

    As I note earlier, I’m happy with Biden running, he’s the best choice for the Democrats despite his age, and I’m not one to advocate playing with fire. That said, the defensive crouch is unwarranted and Dems need not proceed fearfully.

    True, the Electoral College gives designed advantage to the GOP, but there are more non-competitive EC blue votes than there are red ones, even if you give Texas and Florida to the Republicans. True, Trump has a lock on his base and that base is active and fervid, but 30% is a long way from the 51% needed to win the WH. Fox’s lie machine will crank up the oppo bile to 11 even if the Dems were to run the ghost of Teddy Roosevelt.

    Gretchen Whitmer, Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Jared Polis are all successful governors who are ready for prime time, while Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar have good standing and name recognition in the Senate. Is it really necessary for any of these people to slink away from a contest with the charmless DeSantis or the unctuous Ted Cruz?

    The whisper campaign against a second Biden term is tiresome. No question about that. But, the Republicans are in disarray, while the Democrats are delivering popular policies. The Democrats need to worry less and run as the winners they are – Biden or not.

  30. Kathy says:


    Remember how a weird, excited yell, by Howard Dean ended his political run?

    It’s a classic. It was dubbed right away the “I have a scream” speech.

    One thing to keep in mind is Benito got more votes in 2020 than in 2016. But he also proved the Heinlein Election Principle, as Biden got way more votes even than that.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that the US does not hold a national election for president. It has a swing state election. This is so de facto if not de jure, and the former tends to win in actual real life.

    The question then is: Which Democratic candidate other than Biden can win PA, WI, MI, AZ, and GA? These seem to be the swing states in play

  31. anjin-san says:


    Trump, on the other hand, is presented as youthful, healthy, vigorous, and sharp-witted

    All the bizarre heroic artwork of Trump that circulates in MAGA world has a purpose, along with political cartoons that depict him as a non-fat guy with a perfectly fitting suit and great hair. It’s marketing, and with some folks, it’s very effective.

  32. Gustopher says:

    And I think Biden has clearly lost a couple of steps since his days as Vice President.

    I don’t see it, unless you’re literally talking about his walking.

    I see a man in full control of his mental faculties, tempered by the recent loss of his son which has translated into compassion, kindness and a desire to live up to the expectations he had of that son, balanced with the “don’t give a fuck” of old age along with an urgency to get things done in the time he has left.

    I don’t think Biden was ever at a spot where he would be as capable as president as he is now.

    He’s also more physically active than most Americans, actually exercising, even if he does sometimes hurt himself falling off a bike. He’s a little hapless.

    He’s old enough it could all change in a moment, of course, and that moment looms statistically ever closer on the horizon. But i’ve seen no mental decline so far.

  33. anjin-san says:


    Remember how a weird, excited yell, by Howard Dean ended his political run?

    The backstory on that is that the room was very noisy, and Dean was having trouble being heard. The yell was an insider thing among campaign workers. So it was all quite innocent, up to the point when the audio was taken directly from the board to remove the crowd noise, and it was replayed over, and over, and over…

    Suddenly Dean, who is a very bright and reasonable man (albeit one with a tendency to get worked up when speaking in public) looked like a minor lunatic. Game over.

  34. Gustopher says:


    Whatever you think of Harris, the fact of the matter is that she isn’t popular and people will be factoring in VP choice more this election, given the ages. So at least work on improving her image.

    It’s kind of amazing how much she just vanishes. I don’t know if she does anything — I assume she must do something, but I almost never see her doing things. Her press team sucks, if nothing else.

  35. CSK says:


    It’s interesting that Ben Garrison, the cartoonist who always depicts Trump as a muscular handsome Superman-type, is switching his loyalties to DeSantis.

  36. Sleeping Dog says:


    Part of the reason she disappears is that she’s tied to the senate whenever there are votes that are likely to be 50-50 and this year, she’s been doing a lot of foreign travel.

    What makes people doubtful of Harris’ political viability is that she dropped an absolute stink bomb of candidacy in 2020 and the chaos that engulfed her VP office staff in 2021. And those are the people who want her to succeed. Then add the racists, misogynists and their fellow travelers, and she has issues.

  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    she dropped an absolute stink bomb of candidacy in 2020

    Hmmm… I didn’t see that quality at all. She seemed like a pretty run-of-the-mill candidate to me. In fact, well her candidacy reminded me of Hillary’s.

  38. BugManDan says:

    @Gustopher: Doesn’t it make you wonder why they didn’t send her to OH, while Biden went to Ukraine?