A vast majority of Americans don’t wish to see a rematch between former President Donald Trump and current President Joe Biden next year, and their respective age is cited as one of the primary factors that would-be voters see as a concern.
According to a recent Yahoo/YouGov survey, 67 percent of Americans, including 48 percent of Democrats, said that Biden is too old for another term; while 42 percent also said former President Donald Trump was too old to run again. In addition, a recent NBC survey found that 70 percent of the respondents said that Biden should not run again, and about half of them said that Biden’s age was a “major factor.”
The Issue of Age
There are valid reasons for such concern among voters.
“I think age is also a surrogate for concern about illness and somebody dying in office,” Alex Keyssar, Matthew W. Stirling Jr. Professor of History and Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, told The Harvard Gazette this month. “It’s both: ‘Is this person capable of doing the job?’ and then, ‘Are they going to live to finish the job?'”
Biden will be 82 next year and could be 86 at the end of his second term. Donald Trump is slightly younger and is currently 76 years old. If he won re-election in 2024, he would be 82 when leaving office in 2029.
There has been a claim made that the White House has a tendency to age some individuals – but the truth is that most presidents simply were in office at a time when most people start to look older. Yet, the truth is that how people actually age varies entirely on the individual.
President Franklin Roosevelt may have seemed like an old man when he died, but he was really only 63 years old. The fact that he was stricken with polio and was a heavy smoker his whole life likely contributed to his early health decline and death – while the weight of leading the nation through World War II may have also been a factor.
One only needs to look to celebrities to see how not everyone ages the same.
Screen legend Richard Burton was just 58 when he passed away. He too was a heavy smoker and drinker, and that was likely a factor. Then there is Keith Richards, the guitarist for The Rolling Stones who is now 79 – older than Trump and only a year younger than Biden – yet he is hardly a model of healthy living.
Richards, along with 90-year-old Willie Nelson, could be so-called “SuperAgers,” a term coined by Emily Rogalski, a neuroscientist researcher at Northwestern University. It isn’t just the fact that they’ve all managed to live longer than many others, but they’re still able to do their jobs; whether that is rocking out or holding the office of president.
The term “SuperAgers” actually refers to elderly people who had lost little or none of their cognitive abilities and who in their 80s were as mentally agile as people in their 60s or 70s.
It is just those older musicians.
The label probably applies to Joe Biden and Donald Trump, according to longevity researcher S. Jay Olshansky and his team at the University of Illinois, which conducted a study before the 2020 election. Olshansky and his team examined the publicly available medical records of both men and concluded that “Biden and Trump are likely among those who are able to fend off some of the ravages of time.
“It is our conclusion that chronological age is not a relevant factor for either candidate running for President of the United States,” the authors wrote in 2020. “Both candidates face a lower than average risk of experiencing significant health or cognitive functioning challenges during the next four years.”
Much of what was true then still probably holds now, but it is still up to the voters to make the ultimate decision on whether Trump or Biden is simply too old. Meanwhile, Keith Richards will likely continue to tour like a rocker half his age.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.