Trump and Biden: Old people are fighting for the votes of young voters

It is a bitter truth that two old men - Joseph Biden and Donald Trump - will probably face each other in the upcoming presidential elections in the USA. What role does their age play and can they win over young voters?

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Trump and Biden (archive), Photo: Shutterstock
Trump and Biden (archive), Photo: Shutterstock
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

If all goes as planned, the 2024 US presidential race will be a repeat of 2020: Joseph Biden vs. Donald Trump. This means that on November 5, 2024, voters will have a choice between a 78-year-old (Trump) and an 81-year-old (Biden). This also means that the man who will be inaugurated on January 20, 2025, will be the oldest person ever to be sworn in as president of the United States.

The average age of previous US presidents at inauguration was 55, according to the Pew Research Center. Regardless of whether Biden or Trump wins, the president will be or enter his eighties while in office. Meanwhile, the median age of the US population is 38,9 years old according to the US Census Bureau.

Not surprisingly, age became a big factor in this year's election.

"There is an objective concern about age. This is completely legitimate. I think that people should not be judged solely on the basis of their age. But, obviously, the older someone is, the greater the chances of having serious health problems or dying," he told DW Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

President Biden has repeatedly mixed up the names of world leaders and celebrities. He also appears tired during public appearances.

"People aren't worried about age per se. But Biden just gives off the impression of age, slowness, weakness," liberal columnist and author Ezra Klein said on his podcast.

"Biden's age is the problem"

Young voters who spoke to DW also said they were particularly concerned about Biden's age.

"I'm not 100 percent convinced that any of the candidates can fully perform the job, but I think Trump has a better chance. Sometimes when I look at Biden, I feel like he has no idea what's going on," said Zak (26) with Midwestern USA.

"I don't agree with most of Trump's policies, and that's why Biden's age is a problem, because compared to Trump, he looks a little weaker," said James W., 29, who lives in New York.

"Unfortunately, I think Trump would probably do that job better than Biden. But neither is ideal and Trump doing his job well does not bode well for the United States," said 23-year-old Washington resident Emma Lengel.

Younger candidates failed to break through

Both Republicans and Democrats had younger candidates at one point, but none could replace the party's heavyweights.

On the Republican side, both Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (45) and former South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley (52) were considered likely candidates only in 2023.

On the Democratic side, it would be highly unusual for anyone to challenge the incumbent, Biden. Several younger candidates contested the 2020 election, including Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg, 42, and Vice President Kamala Harris, 59. When Harris was first introduced as Biden's running mate, some observers speculated that she might be the next presidential contender. But Harris has failed to sharpen her profile in the past four years.

"Tired of old politicians"

Age does not automatically put a candidate at a disadvantage or prevent them from connecting with younger voters. Living proof of this is Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont, who at the age of 82 is popular among students, and especially among those who have recently graduated.

Emma Lengel also said that age is not a factor that automatically disqualifies candidates, but rather a lack of action on issues that matter to young Americans.

"I'm so tired of all these old politicians who are out of touch with reality and try to please us, and at the legislative level they don't do anything for us".

Both Trump and Biden "could be my grandfathers"

Older presidents have previously succeeded in connecting with young voters.

"Regan left office at almost 78 years old. You know what his approval ratings showed? Young people strongly supported him. He reminded them of their grandfather," said Larry Sabato.

In Regan's case, that seems to have been a plus. Today's young voters are more skeptical of Biden and Trump.

"I think they represent some of my views, but they're old enough to be my grandfathers. How many of you have the same views as your grandfathers," Zack says.

Trump and Biden remind young New Yorker James of older family members – and not in a good way.

"Every time I watch them speak, I feel like I'm watching my grandfather when he's worried about something. I just have to nod and say 'sure,' because I feel like he won't understand any rejection," he said.

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