President Joe Biden celebrated his 81st birthday on Monday, but the occasion also highlights the ongoing issue of his age. As the oldest president in history when he took office, the question of Biden’s ability to pursue another term at the age of 86 has raised concerns among voters, including his own supporters. Recent polls conducted in crucial swing states show declining support for Biden, particularly among voters under 30, a demographic he previously won by a significant margin.
Daniel Cox, a senior fellow in polling and public opinion, suggests that politically engaged young adults are the most dissatisfied with Biden’s performance, particularly regarding climate change, student debt, and his support for Israel. However, the primary concern remains Biden’s age, which is evident not only in his appearance but also in his demeanor. While Reagan, the second oldest U.S. president, turned 78 after leaving office, Trump will be the same age as Biden in the 2024 election.
The age issue is not new to politics. In 1980, Ronald Reagan faced questions about his age when running for president at the age of 69. Although age did not significantly impact his campaign at the time, there were reports of Reagan’s inattention to detail and disengagement in meetings. His party suffered losses in the midterms in 1982, and there were rumors that his wife, Nancy, wanted him to retire. However, Reagan ran for a second term in 1984 and won by a landslide, challenging the notion of being too old to serve.
The question of age also arose during debates between Reagan and his younger opponent, Walter Mondale. In one memorable instance, Reagan diffused the age issue by quipping, “I am not going to exploit for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” This remark resonated with voters, and Reagan ultimately secured another term despite occasional lapses.
Democrats have historically garnered support from young voters, with Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden all successfully winning the under-30 demographic. Younger voters have become increasingly politically engaged, particularly on issues of gender and abortion rights, which has translated into electoral victories for Democratic candidates.
The challenge for Biden lies in reclaiming the loyalty of younger voters as polling transforms into actual voting. Despite concerns about his age, Biden may still have a chance to win over this demographic and secure their support in future elections. However, it remains to be seen how age will ultimately impact Biden’s ability to serve if reelected to a second term.