Public opinion has soured on Biden’s health and mental fitness, according to new polling

Diana J. Smith
President Joe Biden delivers a speech on infrastructure while visiting the NH 175 bridge spanning the Pemigewasset River on November 16, 2021 in Woodstock, New Hampshire

President Joe Biden.John Tully/Getty Images

  • Public opinion has swung away from President Biden on perceptions of his fitness for office.

  • A Politico/Morning Consult poll found 50% of Americans disagree that Biden is “in good health.”

  • Compared to the same question a year ago, there has been a 29 percentage point shift against Biden.

Days ahead of his 79th birthday, President Joe Biden faces a substantially different landscape on voter perceptions of his fitness for office compared to one year ago.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday found 50% of respondents disagreed when asked if Biden is “in good health,” while only 40% agreed. When asked the same question a year ago, Biden came out on top in the “good health” category by a 19 percentage point margin.

That 29 percentage point shift within a year is more drastic than the overall downward trend in his approval ratings, which have reached historic lows for a president at this point in his first term.

Biden underwent a similar shift when respondents were asked about whether Biden is “mentally fit.” This year, voters were closely divided over his mental fitness, with 46% agreeing that he is mentally fit and 48% disagreeing. In the previous year’s results, voters found Biden to be mentally fit by a 21 percentage point margin.

As the oldest US president ever sworn into office, doubts in Biden’s mental acuity have been a feature of Republican messaging ever since he emerged as the Democratic nominee in 2020.

Those months-long efforts to paint Biden as doddering and senile largely backfired around the major parties’ conventions in the summer of 2020, but the latest numbers are a sign that those attacks never fully lost their potency.

Similar polls have been conducted in the past, such as an ABC News/Washington Post poll from 2018 that found half of Americans saying they did not think Trump was mentally stable.

Former President Ronald Reagan, who was younger than Biden is now when he left office at the age of 77, faced mounting scrutiny toward the end of his second term over his mental acuity, even from neuroscientists who questioned whether he was in severe cognitive decline before being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s after leaving the White House.

Partisanship played a major role in the Politico/Morning Consult poll, with those more inclined to vote Republican also more likely to say Biden isn’t in good health.

The opposite is true for Democrats in the survey, but independent voters said Biden is not in good health by a 23 percentage point margin.

“They’re running a very aggressive campaign on this, and it’s bleeding over into the mainstream a little,” Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who has worked for Biden, told Politico in their summary of the poll. “By and large, the people who believe this are Trump supporters anyway or they’ve been exposed to the right-wing disinformation machine.”

“When you watch Biden, you get a sense that he’s just missing a beat, that he’s not what he once was,” Republican pollster Neil Newhouse said in the same story. “Voters are picking up on it.”

The poll had Biden’s overall approval at just 44%, while 53% disapproved of his job performance.

Other troubling crosstabs included respondents finding Biden is not a “clear communicator” by 20 percentage points, that he is not “energetic” by 26 percentage points, and that he is not a “strong leader” by 17 percentage points.

The Politico/Morning Consult poll was in the field between Nov. 13 and Nov. 15 among a sample of 1,998 registered voters, with the margin of error falling at plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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