According to a recent poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News, more than 60% of Americans harbor doubts about President Biden’s cognitive and physical abilities to lead the country effectively, which presents formidable obstacles as he embarks on his reelection campaign. Although Biden and former President Trump are of similar age (80 and 76, respectively), the survey reveals that Americans have markedly different opinions of their abilities, despite Biden’s physician declaring him to be in good health. While only a third of Americans believe that Biden possesses the mental acuity required to govern effectively, 54% believe that Trump has the same capability. Additionally, only a third of Americans consider Biden to be physically fit enough to lead, while 64% believe that of Trump, the leading Republican candidate.
Biden has often responded to questions about his age with humor, as he did at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner when he joked about spending time with founding father “Jimmy Madison.” Nevertheless, his physical fitness and mental acuity have been subject to attacks from some of his Republican rivals, including Trump and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. These attacks have increased scrutiny on the incumbent as he tries to cement the coalition that narrowly carried him to victory in 2020.
In an interview with MSNBC, Biden pointed to his vast wisdom and extensive experience when asked why he is the right person for the job at his age. Biden also noted that he has proven himself to be honorable and effective, making him an ideal candidate for the presidency.
About 70% of independents believe that Biden lacks the mental sharpness and physical health to serve effectively, while approximately 20% of Democrats share this view. A vast majority of Republicans (94%) say that Biden lacks the mental sharpness to be president. Of those Americans who feel that Biden is not mentally sharp enough to serve effectively, 12% would definitely or probably vote for him against Trump, while 67% would likely or definitely support Trump.
Concerns about Biden’s cognitive and physical health have been a recurring theme in conversations with voters across the country in recent months, including among Democrats who have no intention of supporting any of the GOP contenders.
For instance, Clarissa Wadley, a 30-year-old independent survey respondent from Philadelphia, initially supported then-Senator Kamala Harris before backing Biden in 2020. Wadley expresses concern about Biden’s mental sharpness, asserting that the presidency requires a certain level of sharpness and awareness of current events, which she does not believe comes across in some of his interviews or public appearances. She worries that this could cost him critical support among moderates and swing voters in a general election that could be determined by the margins.
Callaghan Hemmerly, a 25-year-old Democrat from Englewood, Colorado, who participated in the Post-ABC poll, believes that there should be an age limit for individuals who seek to serve as president, just as there is a requirement that they be at least 35 years old.
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