When singing “Happy Birthday” to someone, it can be just as nice to leave out the question, “How old are you now?”
It’s understandable that supporters of President Biden, who celebrates his 81st birthday on Monday, have mixed feelings. Mr. Biden was already the oldest president in history when he took the oath. With one year left in his current term, Mr. Biden is asking voters to give him four more votes beyond that period, bringing his total to 86.
There is no age limit for elected federal officials — voters ultimately decide — but the “age problem” continues to plague this president. Polls show that even Democratic voters question whether he is too old for the job.
In a series of recent polls conducted in key battleground states, new york times/ Siena College, YouGov, Morning Consult and Quinnipiac University all show Biden as a significant bearish candidate in the race against his almost certain 2024 Republican opponent, Donald Trump. A breakdown of these polls shows that Biden has fallen the most among voters under 30. Biden won this category by a 26-point margin in 2020, according to an extensive survey of eligible voters by the Pew Research Center.
Biden won the overall popular vote by a margin of 7 million votes, but his margin of victory among young voters was key to winning several battleground states and reversing the electoral college tally from 2016. Ta.
Biden’s losses among young voters are worst among voters who are most attentive, said Daniel Cox, senior research fellow for polling and public opinion at the American Enterprise Institute.
“Like many Americans, young Americans are dissatisfied with the choice of candidates,” Cox said. ”[But] The most dissatisfied people appear to be the most politically engaged. Young people who are politically engaged tend to be far more liberal and critical of Biden than those who are less paying attention. ”
His decline in popularity among his most passionate young voters may reflect dissatisfaction with his record on climate change and student debt, as well as full-throated support for Israel.
But at the end of the day, you can’t avoid the elephant in the room. Biden is handsome and energetic, but he often shows his age not only in his appearance but also in his demeanor.
Biden was already 78 years old when he became president. especially, Number 2 Ronald Reagan, the oldest U.S. president in history, turned 78 for the first time weeks after turning 78. left office.
By comparison, Trump will be 78 years old by Election Day 2024. He has recently brought up Biden’s age in speeches at rallies and social media posts, alleging various age-related illnesses.
President Reagan faced the question of “At what age is too old?” in the 1980s.
The age issue is actually twofold. Is the candidate too old to run, and is the candidate too old to serve even if elected?
When Reagan ran for president in 1980, he was 69 years old and was about to celebrate his 70th birthday shortly after the inauguration. This year, his age wasn’t as big an issue as expected, at least in part because the former Hollywood actor still projected confidence, optimism, and strength.
History/Corbis (via Getty Images)
But we became one. Although he did well in most public appearances, reports circulated that he did not pay attention to details or was noticeably absent from meetings. His party suffered a major blow in the 1982 midterm elections, when he lost his House seat and the governorships of large and battleground states went to Democrats.
There were rumors that President Reagan’s wife, Nancy, wanted him to retire. Leading Democratic candidates lined up to run against him.Inflation and unemployment were both much worse than they are now, due to rising unemployment and the consumer price index. both It reached double digits in the early 1980s. The Fed is slamming the brakes like never before, and President Reagan’s numbers in the Gallup poll are sometimes as bad as Biden’s recent numbers, bottoming out at 35% approval rating early in his third year in office. I hit.
However, President Reagan ran for office in 1984. The economy improved throughout the year, and Democrats fought for months for candidates. They settled on the safe but somewhat mediocre Walter Mondale, a former senator from Minnesota who had been Jimmy Carter’s vice president.
Reagan was up more than 50% on Gallup and appeared to be on track for a second term. The two candidates then met in Louisville for a debate in September. President Reagan was out of his usual game. Mondale, nearly 17 years younger than Reagan, asked Reagan to recall his past statements and events, but Reagan was slow in his responses.cover of time The magazine featured images of the candidates riding horses as jockeys, with the headline: “Real racing?”
Stan Honda/AFP via Getty Images
So when the two candidates held their final debate in Kansas City in October, the stakes were high. Reagan himself seems to have been in the early stages. When one of the hosts bluntly asked if age was an issue in the campaign, President Reagan replied, “I’m not going to make age an issue in this campaign. I have no intention of taking advantage of his youth and inexperience.” The audience burst into laughter. Mondale laughed too. With perfect tone and timing, Reagan defused his explosives.
But before the discussion ended, there was another unforgettable moment. After each candidate was given time to summarize, President Reagan began talking about driving the Pacific Coast Highway. The story, like the path itself, progressed with no end in sight. The host interrupted and politely cut him off, and President Reagan thanked him with warm enthusiasm.
And then the evening ended. Many people who witnessed that moment, including this writer, left the auditorium that night with a sense of unease. But on television, the awkward finale was forgotten amid endless quips about President Reagan’s “age and inexperience.”
In November, Reagan received approximately 59% of the national popular vote and won 49 of the 50 states. The landslide margin is almost unbelievable when compared to the close margins in presidential elections in recent decades.
But if Reagan isn’t clearly too old; Run Is he still too old to be president? Get used to it Will the president have another term? The judgment of history is not very clear here.
Mr. Reagan, who is in his mid-70s, sometimes seemed unenthusiastic about events, mixing up names and showing little interest in details. Aides criticized his “hands-off management style” when it emerged that the United States had exchanged sophisticated weapons with Iranian-backed terrorist hostages. He signed the sweeping tax reform bill passed by Congress in 1986, but he didn’t know much about its contents.
In 1994, at age 83, President Reagan announced that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He died in 2004, and debate has continued since then over whether he experienced early symptoms of the disease during his time in office. But whatever the final verdict on President Reagan’s second term, he won not only the overall popular vote, but also the under-30 vote. In fact, Mr. Reagan was the last Republican presidential candidate to do so.
David Ake/AFP via Getty Images
Democrats have an advantage in youth votes
In the decades that followed, the Democratic Party reaped a fruitful harvest among young people. In 1992, Bill Clinton was 22 years younger than incumbent President George H.W. Bush (at the time, the age difference between major party candidates was the largest since the 1850s). But the upstart Democrat from Arkansas embraced his differences, playing the saxophone on late night TV and answering questions from cheeky students on cable TV (remember “Boxers or Briefs?”).
Four years later, when Clinton was an incumbent, she even ran against a Republican candidate. more his senior. Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas is 23 years older, and his age has been more of an issue than in recent memory. In a televised debate, Clinton said she was more concerned about Dole’s age. idea, It’s a clever way to have it both ways. But the bumper stickers seen that fall were more direct: “Dole IS 96.”
The next decade saw the age gap widen as the youthful Sen. Barack Obama faced off against Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a quarter-century older. Like Mr. Clinton before him, Mr. Obama, who was 47 years old when he was first elected, had the votes of people under 30. In fact, in 2008, the percentage of total votes cast by people under 30 exceeded his percentage by people over 65. This is truly unusual in American politics.
Neither Hillary Clinton nor Joe Biden had Mr. Obama’s personal connection with young voters, but both easily outperformed Mr. Trump. Recent polls show that young voters are more likely to vote Democratic overall, especially when it comes to salient issues related to gender. Young voters have also been a driving force behind recent abortion-rights candidates, abortion-rights initiatives, and referendum victories.
All of this means that a Democrat like Biden, even in his 80s, could win back the loyalty of younger voters if the polling process is replaced by actual voting. Maybe.