Aug 29, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Poll: Age haunts Biden vs. “crooked” Trump

What words come to mind when you think of Joe Biden or Donald Trump?
Data: AP-NORC; Graphic: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

President Biden is on track to put away the Democratic nomination with little opposition — but even most of his own party thinks he's too old for the job, according to a new AP-NORC poll.

Why it matters: A quarter of adults associate Biden with words related to his age, while words like "corrupt, criminal," and "crooked" come to mind first for former President Trump, the poll found.

  • This foreshadows a potential rematch that could boil down to two main sticking points among voters: Biden's age and Trump's legal peril.

Driving the news: 77% of adults think Biden, 80, is too old to effectively serve for four more years, with 89% of Republicans holding that view and 69% of Democrats, the AP-NORC poll found.

  • That view is held across age groups, but voters 44 and under were more likely to hold the view.
  • Still, 82% of Democrats said they would at least probably support Biden if he is the party's nominee.

Trump, 77, faces less scrutiny for his age — even from those in the opposing party.

  • Just over half of all adults think that Trump is too old to effectively serve another term, with 71% of Democrats holding that view and 28% of Republicans.

Between the lines: Trump, who is facing multiple criminal indictments, has maintained his first-place status in primary polls despite his mountain of legal woes.

  • A New York Times/Siena College poll from earlier this month found that despite most voters thinking that Trump has committed serious crimes, he has a razor-thin hypothetical margin with Biden.
  • When asked what the first word or phrase that comes to mind with Trump, 15% said words like "corrupt" or "crooked," while 11% said other generally negative words, per the Associated Press.
  • A spokesperson for Trump's campaign did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

Reality check: Most Americans weren't thrilled to begin with about a Biden-Trump rematch, according to polling after Biden formally announced his presidential campaign.

  • Age also emerged as a flashpoint during the 2020 election.
  • Biden's reelection campaign, for their part, says that age is not a huge motivating factor for voters and they point to Democratic success in the 2022 midterm elections with Biden at the helm.

Zoom out: Biden, already the oldest sitting president, would be 86 at the end of a second term. Biden has leaned into his age — and in recent months has increasingly joked about it.

  • Trump, who would be 78 on Election Day 2024, faces vast legal pressure and is the first sitting or former U.S. president to face criminal charges.
  • He faces 91 criminal counts across four jurisdictions — and his already packed courtroom calendar is expected to collide with his 2024 campaign.

Methodology: The AP-NORC poll of 1,165 adults was conducted between Aug. 10-14, 2023, using a sample drawn from NORC's probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel.

  • The margin of error is ±3.8 percentage points.
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