Many polls in recent months have suggested that while voters are concerned about President Joe Biden's ability to handle a second term at age 80, they are not proportionally as concerned about Donald Trump's age at 77.
The dynamic turned up in the Daily Kos/Civiqs poll in September, with 75% of voters expressing concern about Biden's age, while just 49% said the same of Trump.
As I have noted before, part of the differential is simply a product of the fact that Democratic voters are more willing to question Biden than Republicans are willing to question Trump. In the Civiqs survey, only half of Democrats brushed off concerns about Biden's age, while 71% of Republicans dismissed age-related worries about Trump.
But another reason for the discrepancy in perception is the fact that far fewer Americans have been confronted with Trump's declining mental acuity. That's partly because Biden has a press corps that covers his every utterance 24/7 and reporters have fixated on anything that plays into voters' perception, so it's a self-reinforcing loop.
Trump, on the other hand, has typically not drawn as much scrutiny, partly because he isn't surrounded by reporters every minute of every day and journalists haven't obsessed over his verbal slips and gaffes in the same way.
Plus, as former Obama White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer notes, Americans who don't follow the news closely also aren't being confronted with the increasing signs of Trump's senility.
Pfeiffer writes in his Message Box Substack:
"[I]n previous times, individuals who were not actively seeking political news would still come across it inadvertently. Open up Facebook to check in on your nieces or pop on X (formerly Twitter) to see how people are reacting to an NBA trade, and you would almost always see some political news posts. That is no longer the case. Both platforms have tweaked their algorithms to show people less news—specifically, less political news. According to an Axios report based on data from Similarweb, referrals to news sites from Facebook and X have plummeted since Trump left office.
Trump's miscues, however, are beginning to attract increased attention—so much so that Fox News hosts recently attempted to paper over the fact that Trump cannot seem to remember Biden is president, not Barack Obama.
On Sunday, Fox News personality Brian Kilmeade tried to pass off Trump's inability to remember Biden's name as an intentional effort to imply that Obama is "pulling the strings" behind the scenes.
"He's convinced Barack Obama is running the country—that's why he says it. He wants you to think that," Kilmeade explained.
As if that rationale is a ringing endorsement of Trump's keen insight.
Even the unnamed woman appearing in the same Fox segment retorted, "Oh Brian, c'mon."
While voters' concerns about Biden's age won't disappear overnight, a recent push by Team Biden along with Trump's rivals on the campaign trail is starting to take hold with reporters.
Trump is plenty addled: Voters just need to see it for themselves.