Age is hurting Biden far more than Trump

Joe Biden has struggled to shake off questions about his age
Joe Biden has struggled to shake off questions about his age - Andrew Harnik /AP
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If you had to hire a babysitter, and the only ones in town were Donald Trump and Joe Biden, who would you hire?

The question may be out of the ordinary when thinking about who to vote for, but now more than ever, fitness – and not likeability – will be the determining metric for nonpartisan voters this election year. The reason for this is simple: Millions of disgruntled voters wouldn’t have a beer with either. Thus, if voters are thinking about betting on a candidate, figuring out who they would trust with their baby is a better question to ask than who they’d enjoy hanging out with.

While I, for one, think that drinking a beer with Trump would be fun, millions would rather avoid engaging in conversation with a feisty and vindictive Don. Similarly, not-entirely-there Joe may be less likely to hurt your feelings, but his lack of lucidity has made it harder for him to gain the same level of love as Obama or Clinton.

For this reason, selecting a candidate is a matter of damage control in the eyes of most Americans: What will you have, impulsivity or senility?

According to a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, more than six in ten Americans are concerned about President Biden’s mental fitness. Similarly, the survey shows that 51 per cent of voters have a problem with Trump’s mental fitness.

Nikki Haley got the right idea by going after the “Grumpy Old Men” in her ad, featuring a compilation of the former and current presidents’ mumblings and gaffes. In doing this, Trump’s only GOP competitor is aiming at what seems to be one of her only electoral advantages: her relative youthfulness.

Will the attacks materialise? Probably not, considering that Trump’s base, like Biden’s, is rock solid. In South Carolina, where Haley served as governor, the former president maintains a commanding 26-point lead, according to the findings of a Monmouth University-Washington Post poll released Thursday.

To the dismay of a coalition of independents, youngsters, progressives, and old guard Republicans, primary voters in both major parties are showing up in droves to support their “crazies.” Millions feel like hostages as leaders on the right and the left coalesce behind the oldies.

Absent imprisonment, nothing is likely to change. California governor Gavin Newsom won’t magically replace Biden; Haley won’t suddenly overtake Trump. What the parties want and what Americans want are not always the same. So while we’re at it, it’s time to think about more than issue enthusiasm – notably, immigration on the right and abortion on the left – as a tool to predict outcomes.

Determining who has the brains for the job, despite their views on some social issues, will define the vote of non-partisans throughout the nation. As such, strategists should think about the competency question more than we’ve done in any election.

As it stands, attempting to go after Trump’s gaffes is a weak strategy for Democrats, considering that their candidate overperforms on the dementia axis. Instead, to put it bluntly, Democrats who want their punches to land should fixate on painting Trump as a schizophrenic rather than a person with Alzheimer’s.

Voters evaluate the “fitness” of candidates in distinct ways, and anyone who watches them speak can differentiate the one with the memory issue from the one who spits controversies. The choice that must be illustrated by Republicans is that their guy, for all of his faults, is actually “there.” Democrats, on the other hand, would benefit from letting voters know that their candidate might struggle at times to string a sentence together, but when he does, his proclamations aren’t as explosive.

America, the choice is yours. Review the stats and pick your fighter.

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