Democrats: It's on for young and old

Reuters
As US Democrats weigh a field of 20 White House hopefuls, new Reuters/Ipsos polling shows age could be a liability at either end of the spectrum.
Reuters

As US Democrats weigh a field of 20 White House hopefuls that includes candidates who would be the youngest or oldest president ever elected, new Reuters/Ipsos polling shows age could be a liability at either end of the spectrum.

More than half of all Democrats said they would be less likely to support a candidate over 70 years old. More than a third said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate younger than 40, according to the April 17-22 poll.

About a quarter of all Democrats said a White House candidate’s age did not matter.

Senator Bernie Sanders, 77, and former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, are the oldest contenders in the vast Democratic field. So far, they appear to be defying concerns about age as they sit together atop public opinion polls. Senator Elizabeth Warren will turn 70 in June.

Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and US House of Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Eric Swalwell are the youngest — all three are under 40. Representative Seth Moulton is 40.

At a Buttigieg event in Des Moines, Iowa, Davis Chambers, 31, said his priority was finding a candidate who could beat Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election. Like many in his age group, Chambers does not think youth was disqualifying but said advanced age made a candidate less attractive.

“I worry about having somebody who is close to 80 years old in the office,” Chambers said.

Older candidates less popular

Trump, who turns 73 in June, would be the oldest president ever re-elected if he retains the White House. Former President Ronald Reagan, who was 73 at the time of his re-election, currently holds that title.

Former President John F. Kennedy was the youngest person elected to the White House, beginning his term at age 43 in 1961. The constitution mandates presidents be at least 35.

The poll found many Democrats were generally wary of supporting older candidates.

Among Democrats aged 18 to 34, 54 percent said they were somewhat or much less likely to support a candidate over the age of 70.

Among 35-to-54-year-old Democrats, 58 percent said they were somewhat or much less likely to support a candidate who is over the age of 70, while 59 percent of Democrats aged 55 and older said the same.

Despite such concerns, Biden and Sanders lead the Democratic field for the 2020 presidential nomination in Reuters/Ipsos polling. Thirty percent of Democrats said they would vote for Biden and 15 percent said they supported Sanders in the latest Reuters/Ipsos national tracking poll.


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