Biden Is Too Old But Trump Is Dangerous, Swing-State Poll Shows

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(Bloomberg) -- Swing-state voters across every major demographic group describe President Joe Biden as too old, a Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll has found, showing that concerns about his age have permeated even the most reliable constituencies of the Democratic party.

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Overall, eight in 10 voters in crucial states said Biden was too old, when asked to think about the frontrunners in the 2024 election. The survey was taken after a special prosecutor’s report that cast the 81-year-old president as an “elderly man with a poor memory.”

In contrast, less than half of respondents said his almost-certain rival, 77-year-old Donald Trump, was too old. Still, Trump faces his own vulnerabilities with swing-state voters, with a majority saying the former president is dangerous.

In a sign of how top-of-mind Biden’s age and acuity are for swing-state voters, more than 1,000 poll respondents mentioned those themes even before they were asked about them directly. They referenced them in reply to an open-ended question about what they had seen, read or heard about the candidate recently.

Their responses underscore the depth and ubiquity of a voter concern that has sometimes overshadowed Biden’s policy achievements and proved difficult for his campaign to assuage.

Biden continues to trail Trump in all seven states most likely to decide the election, with swing-state voters’ perceptions of an improving national economy failing to translate into a significant increase in support for the incumbent. The poll of 4,955 voters was conducted Feb. 12 to Feb. 20 and has a margin of error of 1 percentage point.

Trump maintains his lead over Biden if other candidates — independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Jill Stein of the Green Party and independent Cornel West — are included.

‘Too Old’

When asked about the two likely major candidates in November’s presidential election, majorities of Black voters, young voters and women labeled Biden too old. Even among those who say they plan to vote for Biden, seven in 10 said he fit that description. Voters were more likely to describe Trump as being mentally fit or in good health. Biden's Economic Message Falls Flat in Must-Win Pennsylvania

“Biden’s age is clearly a sticky narrative that the president’s campaign is going to have to contend with,” said Caroline Bye, a vice president at Morning Consult. While the candidates are only four years apart in age, “it’s clearly stickier for Biden than it is for Trump.”

The White House has pointed to the president’s doctor’s notes, demanding schedule and foreign trips as evidence of Biden’s fitness for office. A report Wednesday from White House Physician Kevin O'Connor described Biden as "a healthy, active, robust 81-year-old male, who remains fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency."

The candidate frequently makes jokes about his age and touts his decades-long US Senate career as a sign of his experience. When the special counsel’s report suggested Biden had a poor memory, the president forcefully rebutted those claims and his aides sought to cast the findings as politically motivated.

Almost six in 10 swing-state voters labeled Trump as dangerous — a concern far more pronounced among undecided voters, who make up less than one-tenth of the swing-state electorate. Even 28% of those who plan to vote for him in November agree that Trump is dangerous. Fewer than half as many Biden supporters said the same about their candidate.

Swing-state voters who volunteered that they had heard something about his recent comments degrading NATO were especially lopsided in thinking Trump was the more dangerous of the two candidates.

Trump also fell short of Biden on other key attributes, with fewer voters calling the Republican compassionate or honest.

Criminal Cases

As many as half of swing-state voters say they would be unwilling to vote for Trump if he’s convicted in any one of the criminal cases in which he faces charges. Those include accusations of paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels, mishandling classified documents and separate state and federal cases alleging a conspiracy to overthrow the results of the 2020 election.

Those numbers don’t vary much from one case to another. Just as voters frequently cited Biden’s age in an open-ended question about him, the same question about Trump yielded hundreds of mentions of his court cases. Trump supporters, though, were more likely than other voters to be dismissive of the charges.

Border Blame

The economy — and especially inflation — remains the top issue among swing-state voters in the latest iteration of the monthly poll. But as economic fears ebb slightly, voters have found room to turn their attention to the border.

A majority of swing-state voters still holds Biden and Democrats in Congress responsible for the migrant surge. But blame for congressional Republicans and the Trump administration each increased by 5 percentage points among swing-state voters compared to the previous month. That shift comes after House Republicans tanked a bipartisan border bill with encouragement from Trump.

Biden Policies

One potential advantage for Biden is how voters perceive some of the provisions of his signature Inflation Reduction Act, with a majority of respondents saying Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices and the extension of insurance subsidies under Obamacare have helped them or their communities.

Other Biden policies — like a 15% tax on corporations or a 1% tax on stock buybacks — have not had as much impact, swing-state-voters said.

The poll also showed gradual improvement in swing-state voters’ assessment of the national economy, with 31% saying it’s heading in the right direction. That’s up from 26% in October.

Still, Biden continues to receive little credit for those improving numbers, with voters trusting Trump more on a wide range of economic issues.


The Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll surveyed 4,955 registered voters in seven swing states: 798 registered voters in Arizona, 800 in Georgia, 702 in Michigan, 445 in Nevada, 705 in North Carolina, 803 in Pennsylvania and 702 in Wisconsin. The surveys were conducted online from Feb. 12 to Feb. 20 and the aggregated data across the seven swing states were weighted to approximate a target sample of swing state registered voters based on gender, age, race/ethnicity, marital status, home ownership, 2020 presidential vote and state. State-level data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters in the respective state based on gender, age, race/ethnicity, marital status, home ownership, and 2020 presidential vote. The margin of error is plus or minus 1 percentage point across the seven states; 3 percentage points in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania; 4 percentage points in Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, and 5 percentage points in Nevada.

--With assistance from Akayla Gardner, Jennah Haque and Elena Mejia.

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