Biden May Have Powerful Ace up His Sleeve in the 2024 Race: Seniors


With President Joe Biden facing a tough reelection fight against former President Donald Trump this November, the incumbent Democrat will need to expand his current level of support to secure reelection.

The president’s reelection challenge is even more daunting given his overall job approval rating is well below 50%, with the incumbent underperforming with critical groups that fueled his 2020 victory, including young voters, Black voters, and Latino voters.

But while Biden works to shore up his support among these key groups, he retains a notable advantage among seniors — or voters aged 65 and older.

It’s an edge that Trump enjoyed in 2020, according to the Pew Research Center, when the then-president won seniors by a 4-point margin (52%-48%) even as he lost the election to Biden.

In the latest Wall Street Journal survey of the top battleground states (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), Biden trailed Trump in six of the seven states.

However, in the Journal’s most recent national and swing-state polling, Biden’s support among seniors has sat at roughly 48%, a rare bloc of stability for the president.

Biden, who’ll be 82 at the start of a second term, may be in a better position with seniors than Trump given his focus on issues like cutting the price of insulin and prescription drug costs.

And while Biden’s age has been a concern among many voters, it hasn’t contributed to any deterioration in support among seniors.

Here’s how Biden’s relatively solid standing with seniors could help him secure a second term:

Older voters show up at the polls

The Wall Street Journal reported that voters aged 65 and older make up roughly 28% of the electorate.

In the 2020 election, voters in this group made up about 22% of all voters, according to exit polling conducted by Edison Research.

And they’re some of the most consistent voters in primary races, where the results generally set the ideological direction of the major political parties.

But it’s their high-propensity voting patterns that could be an underrated benefit for Biden in November.

Asheville, North Carolina.

Solid support among older voters could boost Biden in a key state like North Carolina.

Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

In the 2020 presidential election, 74% of voters aged 65 and older went on to cast a ballot, according to the US Census Bureau.

If Biden can build on his existing support with seniors, it could go a long way for him in Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, which all have a sizable share of older voters and retirees and are poised to be decided by razor-thin margins this fall.

The Israel-Hamas war isn’t hurting Biden with seniors

Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war is one of the most pressing issues among young voters — with many Americans aged 18 to 29 demanding that the president change course in Gaza by calling for a permanent cease-fire.

It’s an issue that has hurt Biden’s standing among young voters, who backed him by 24 points (59% to 35%) in 2020, according to Pew Research, but are backing him by narrower margins in recent polling.

He remains under immense pressure from antiwar groups and liberal politicians who are pressing him on the issue and have called on Democratic primary voters to select “uncommitted” in protest.

But in a Pew survey from February, 30% of voters aged 65 and older believed Biden was “striking the right balance” on the war, while 23% of respondents believed that he favored Palestinians too much, and 13% of respondents felt that he favored Israelis too much. (About a third of voters aged 65 and older were unsure of their opinion.)

A greater proportion of seniors felt that Biden had a more balanced approach to the war than any other age group. For instance, only 12% of respondents aged 18 to 29 felt that Biden had struck the “right balance” on the issue. (Nearly 4-in-10 young voters felt that Biden’s war policies were too slanted toward Israel, a percentage higher than any other age group.)

This isn’t to say that seniors are a monolith — there are certainly plenty of older Americans calling for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza.

But the long-standing geopolitical alliance between the United States and Israel is likely to be a more defining attribute for older voters, with them perhaps giving Biden more deference on the issue given his foreign policy background that has spanned decades.


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