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Sherlock Holmes’ statement “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data,” is a pearl of wisdom to use when thinking about America’s political future.
The following data applies to the 2024 presidential election notion that Donald Trump and Joe Biden are too old to be president.
First, according to a Nov. 10-14 Morning Consult poll, 65 percent of Americans don’t want Biden or Trump to run again. Likewise, the Nov. 26-30, 2022 CNBC All-America Economic Survey found 61 percent of the public think Trump should not seek the presidency and 70 percent say the same about Biden.
Second, in a fall 2022 Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll, 60 percent of Americans would consider voting for a moderate independent if Biden and Trump were seeking office.
According to a media exit poll on Nov. 8, 2022, only 44 percent of the respondents had a “favorable” opinion of the Democratic Party as well as of the Republican Party.
Karl Rove, a GOP consultant and contributor to the conservative Wall Street Journal stated “ … Americans may believe they can do better than a 78-year-old Republican and a nearly 82-year-old Democrat holding a rematch.”
In reference to age, longitudinal research indicates that cognitive deterioration typically accelerates in one’s 70s. Both Trump and Biden are united in dotage, along with 26 Senators and 76 in the House of Representatives.
Take note of Derek Thompson’s comments from his article (Why do such elderly people run America?) published in The Atlantic, “ … old governance can be bad governance. … it seems risky to leave the most important issues of life, death or welfare in the hands of a group of septuagenarians who are in the crosshairs of biologically predictable cognitive decline.”
All of this suggests it is time to seek presidential candidates under the age of 70.
The under age 70 Republicans who have hinted of wanting to be president include: Greg Abbott, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Brian Kemp, Kristi Noem, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Tim Scott, Chris Sununu and Glenn Younkin.
On the Democrats’ side, the potential under 70-year-old presidential candidate pool might include: Stacey Abrams, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Ro Khanna, Amy Klobuchar, J.B. Pritzker, Gavin Newsom, Josh Shapiro and Gretchen Whitmer.
Brookings Institution senior fellow and Wall Street Journal contributor William Galston noted “a 2024 rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump would feature two of the least popular presidential candidates in modern history — even within their own parties. If 2024 were a rerun of 2020, 58% of voters say that they would `consider’ a `moderate independent’ presidential candidate” (Aug. 12, 2022, Brookings).
In 2022, dozens of former Republicans and Democrats created a new centrist-based party, called Forward. Some moderate presidential candidates could include Liz Cheney, Larry Hogan, David Jolly, John Kasich, Christine Todd Whitman or Andrew Yang.
The 2024 presidential race is going to be a wild ride for Republicans, Democrats and Forward, let alone voters.
Steve Corbin is professor emeritus of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa.
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