Biden’s State of the Union Performance Eases Base Concerns About His Age

Fewer voters now see the octogenarian president as too old, but it’s not yet helping against Trump
President Joe Biden delivering his 2024 State of the Union address
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March 11, 2024 at 5:00 pm UTC

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The positive reception to President Joe Biden’s 2024 State of the Union address hasn’t pulled him ahead of former President Donald Trump in our early tracking of the race, but there are signs that it is assuaging some voter concerns about his age — particularly among his own base. 

According to Morning Consult’s weekly tracking surveys conducted before and after his March 7 speech, the share of voters who said Biden is “too old” fell slightly compared with the previous week, from 68% to 65%, while the share who disagreed with the sentiment grew from 26% to 30%.

Fewer Voters Think Biden’s Too Old After 2024 State of the Union

Shares of voters who said they agreed or disagreed that President Joe Biden is “too old”
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Surveys conducted March 2-4 and March 9-11, 2024, among representative samples of roughly 2,000 registered voters each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

The movement was most notable among Democrats and voters who backed Biden in 2020 — two groups that Biden has struggled with. In our survey before the speech, majorities of those voters saw Biden as too old; in our survey after the speech, majorities of both disagreed with the sentiment. Most independent voters still see Biden as too old, but that figure fell from 71% to 67% following his address to a joint session of Congress. 

The latest survey comes as Biden faces his best news environment since May after he launched his re-election effort, according to our tracking of buzz about the contest, and as his campaign works to address the age issue directly. Over the weekend, he released a new campaign advertisement framing himself as “not a young guy,” but one who understands “how to get things done for the American people.”

At this early stage, the softening concern about the octogenarian’s age following the speech hasn’t translated into an improvement in his standing against Trump. 

State of the Union Brings Biden No Boost Against Trump

Shares of voters who would support the following if the 2024 presidential election were held today:
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Surveys conducted March 1-3 and March 8-10, 2024, among representative samples of roughly 6,300 registered voters each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-1 percentage point. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Data from our daily tracking of the contest between the two presumptive nominees shows an effectively tied race between Trump and Biden, with the incumbent narrowly trailing his predecessor by 1 percentage point.

The tight margin following Trump’s Super Tuesday victories nonetheless represents an improvement compared to the past two months for Biden, who is posting some of his best numbers ever among independent voters — who appear to be softening on their support for a third-party option.

In fact, beyond the horse race, independent voters are helping to drive a slight uptick in Biden’s approval rating: Compared with the previous week, the share who approve of his job performance increased slightly (from 29% to 33%), while the share who disapprove decreased (from 66% to 61%).

The bottom line

Last week marked the unofficial beginning of the general election phase of the campaign between Biden and Trump, with the former president’s remaining rival dropping her bid and clearing the way for Trump’s third ascendance to the Republican nomination. It was a good week for Biden, who overperformed the low expectations set for him by Republicans in a high-energy speech that kicked off a weekend of general election campaigning capped by the $30 million ad buy. 

The effects of Biden’s public-facing efforts to improve sentiment about his ability to do the job will take time to measure. But this is just the start — and Trump’s campaign has released its own advertising campaign to highlight Biden’s previous verbal flubs to question his mental fitness, giving both sides time to shift voters’ views over the coming months of a very long and grueling  campaign ahead of November. 

The key for the Biden campaign continues to be reviving his 2020 voter base, and the data suggests there are minds that can be changed.

A headshot photograph of Eli Yokley
Eli Yokley
U.S. Politics Analyst

Eli Yokley is Morning Consult’s U.S. politics analyst. Eli joined Morning Consult in 2016 from Roll Call, where he reported on House and Senate campaigns after five years of covering state-level politics in the Show Me State while studying at the University of Missouri in Columbia, including contributions to The New York Times, Politico and The Daily Beast. Follow him on Twitter @eyokley. Interested in connecting with Eli to discuss his analysis or for a media engagement or speaking opportunity? Email [email protected].

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