New polls don’t make good reading for either of the leading 2024 presidential candidates, with 60 percent of voters believing both lack the mental capacity to be commander in chief.
About 6 in 10 say they have little or no confidence in President Joe Biden’s mental ability to serve effectively as president, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. This week, Biden will make a new appeal to voters during his State of the Union address.
This is a slight increase from January 2022, when about half of respondents expressed similar concerns.
Likewise, nearly 6 in 10 also say they lack confidence in the mental capacity of former President Donald Trump, the 77-year-old Republican front-runner.
For many voters, this year’s election looks like a showdown for the world’s toughest job between two men well past standard retirement age.
About 6 in 10 say they have little or no confidence in President Joe Biden’s mental ability to serve effectively as president.
Likewise, nearly 6 in 10 also say they don’t trust former President Donald Trump’s mental capacity.
The next president will likely have to manage global conflicts, resolve domestic emergencies, and work with a dysfunctional Congress.
Biden is likely to address those challenges and more in his State of the Union address on Thursday as he tries to convince Americans that he deserves another term.
Ahead of the big event, only 38 percent of American adults approve of how Biden is handling his job as president, while 61 percent disapprove.
Democrats (74 percent) are much more likely than independents (20 percent) and Republicans (6 percent) to favor his performance.
But there is widespread discontent over the way Biden is handling a range of issues, including the economy, immigration and foreign policy.
About 4 in 10 Americans approve of how Biden is handling each of these issues: health care, climate change, abortion policy and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
But people are less satisfied with Biden’s handling of immigration (29 percent), the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (31 percent) and the economy (34 percent), all of which are likely to come up in the speech before a joint session. congressional.
Nearly 6 in 10 Americans (57 percent) think the national economy is somewhat or much worse than before Biden took office in 2021. Only 3 in 10 adults say it is better under his leadership. Still, people are more optimistic about the state of their own bank accounts: 54 percent say their personal finances are good.
Many respondents were deeply pessimistic about their potential elections in November due to age and risk of cognitive decline.
Paul Miller, 84, said Biden is too old, as is Trump.
“He doesn’t seem to have the mental capacity to be president,” Miller said of Biden. He added that Trump is “too old and half crazy.”
The retiree from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, said he voted for Trump in 2020 but would not do so again.
“I don’t think I’m going to vote for any of them,” he said. “I hope someone else is available.”
The president faces additional pressure over his age after unflattering descriptions of him contained in a special counsel’s report that did not recommend criminal prosecution of Biden for his mishandling of classified records, unlike Trump, who was accused of keeping classified material in his Florida home.
The report said Biden’s memory was “hazy,” “indistinct,” “flawed,” “poor” and had “significant limitations.”
Biden has tried to deflect concerns by joking about his age and criticizing Trump’s own gaffes.
However, the president’s age is a liability that has overshadowed his policy achievements in infrastructure, manufacturing and addressing climate change.
About a third of Democrats said they have little or no confidence in Biden’s mental ability in the new poll, up from 14 percent in January 2022.
Only 40 percent of Democrats said they have extreme or very confidence in Biden’s mental abilities, and about 3 in 10 said they have “some” confidence.
And in a major risk for Biden, independents are much more likely to say they lack confidence in his mental abilities (80 percent) compared to Trump’s (56 percent).
Republicans are generally more comfortable with Trump’s mental abilities than Democrats are with Biden’s.
In the survey, 59 percent of Republicans are extremely or very confident that Trump has the mental abilities to be president. An additional 20 percent have some confidence and 20 percent have little or no confidence.
But if there’s one thing Democrats and Republicans can agree on, it’s that the other party’s likely nominee isn’t mentally up to the task.
About 9 in 10 Republicans say Biden lacks the mental capacity to serve as president, while a similar share of Democrats say the same about Trump.
Part of Biden’s problem is that his policies have yet to cut through the daily clutter of life.
Sharon Gallagher, 66, is worried about inflation. She voted for Biden in 2020, but she believes he hasn’t done enough for the economy.
He also feels that Trump gets angry too quickly. The Sarasota, Florida, resident said she doesn’t have the bandwidth to really judge his policies.
“I don’t pay enough attention to politics to even know,” Gallagher said. “I have grandchildren who live with me and I have children’s shows all day.”
Justin Tjernlund, 40, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, said Biden “seems like he’s still there,” but even if he were on the decline, he has “a whole army of people to help him get the job done.”
Trjenlund said he voted for Trump in 2020 and plans to do so again because the Republican is “interesting” and “refreshing.”
Still, because of the ages of both candidates, Greg Olivo, 62, said he plans to focus on Vice President Kamala Harris and whoever Trump, if he is the nominee, chooses as his running mate.
“Keep a close eye on the vice president,” said the Valley City, Ohio, machinist who voted for Biden in 2020 and would do so again. “Because that person will probably be president in four years, one way or another.”