The age issue will defeat Biden
As I often point out, elections are won or lost depending on what issues voters decide to decide upon. Republicans want voters to be thinking about inflation, crime and the border when they go to the polls. Democrats want voters to focus on abortion, climate change and Trump as the wrecking ball of the American democracy – with emphasis on the latter.
Republicans have the advantage in the issues because they talk about issues that most Americans can relate to personally. Democrats have one issue (pro-abortion) that does not have universal appeal. The climate apocalypse is too far off, and the threat-to-democracy argument is just a campaign narrative – which people will choose to believe or not. Based on polls, apparently it is not selling well.
Most polls put the economy as the number one concern. But is that the issue that will tip the voting decisions one way or the other? The most critical and decisive issue may be … age (read that as vitality). Specifically, President Biden’s age (vitality).
In general, most American voters would prefer candidates other than President Biden or President Trump – but for different reasons. Regardless, it appears that is what the voters will get because the two major party mechanisms will separately produce presidential nominees most folks do not want. The two parties are responding to the will of the folks in their respective political silos – and not the will of the overall public.
While the economy and abortion will be important issues, I suspect that voters – especially that all-important uncommitted group – will be thinking of Biden’s age when they are marking their ballots.
We see some of that in polls. A large plurality – and even a majority in some polls – say that Biden is “too old to be President.” Hardline Democrats will still vote for him because of Trump, but they will not decide the outcome any more than hardline Republican voters will. Those two groups provide the base – not the critical mass.
There are a number of reasons why I am inclined to think that age will be a much bigger issue than is generally reported or even seen in the polls.
The first reason is the size of the Biden-is-too-old numbers in the polls. It is a majority of all voters. But even a high percentage of Democrat voters think Biden is too old. That is an enormously significant statistic.
The second reason why I see age as the seminal issue is that it cannot be fixed. There is no counterpoint or pushback against age. If you are inclined to believe Biden is too old to be President today, you will still think he is too old tomorrow. In fact, he will be older.
The third reason is that between now and election day, Biden will exhibit evidence of his advancing age and decline in mental and physical vitality. There are likely to be “senior moments” or worse.
The fourth reason is that voters are already dubious that Biden will be able to complete a second term – whether he dies or becomes so incapacitated that it will be obvious to the public that he is incapable of carrying out the duties of the presidency. Aides and the media will not be able to conceal any worsening of his condition as they did with Franklin Roosevelt, who was dying during the campaign and died a few weeks after his inauguration to a fourth term. Fool we the people once, shame on you, Fool us twice … well you know.
The fifth reason is that the polls may not reflect the breadth and depth of voter concern over Biden’s age. One of the issues in analyzing polls is dealing with deceptive answers. People are reluctant to say they will vote a certain way if it makes them feel uneasy or unpopular. Some Trump voters may not admit their vote because of all the negative media associated with being a Trump supporter.
In one California election, the phenomenon was labeled the “Bradley Effect.” Tom Bradley was a black candidate for governor. He lost. The significant errors in the polling were attributed to those polled who did not want to say they were not voting for the black guy – especially if the person doing the phone survey sounded black. We may find that those being polled do not want to sound prejudiced against old people. People do lie to pollsters.
And indirectly related to the age issue is the sixth reason. Biden has a Kamala Harris problem. She has a bipartisan constituency who simply does not like her or her policies. She has a lower favorable rating than Biden – and his is not so good. Because she is not associated with making policy, she will not get any credit if the major issues turn in Biden’s favor. There is virtually nothing she can do to improve her standing with the American people. Voters do not want her behind the main desk in the Oval Office. The thought of her succeeding Biden is not a happy one. A very popular Vice President could assuage some concerns over Biden’s age. Harris intensifies them.
Despite all the efforts to make Biden look vital – and the limiting of his public exposure – the public is seeing what they see. They can talk about his energy and fine mind. But voters see the senior moments. Biden can do his one-second jogging as he walks. But the public also sees the falls. Even his obvious avoidance of unscripted public exposure is seen as a pragmatic strategy to avoid more gaffes.
The reason Biden’s age (vitality) resonates with voters to such an extent is because Biden IS too damn old to serve out a second term. In 2019, President Carter said that 80 is too old to be President. He is right.
So, there ‘tis.