Concerns over President Joe Biden’s recent very public displays of possibly age-related mental impairments have jumped among voters since mid-summer, the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows. And these worries aren’t partisan, with a majority of all political groups, including Democrats, now expressing concern.
In early August, we asked Americans: “Some people are concerned about President Biden’s mental health. How concerned are you about President Biden’s mental health?” At the time, a number of public displays of unsteadiness, confusion, and verbal gaffes seen in the media suggested to many that the nation’s commander in chief’s mental acuity was questionable.
For instance, 59% overall said they were worried about his mental health. The responses included 82% of Republicans, 56% of independents, but just 39% of Democrats.
We asked the same question in our most recent online poll of 1,376 adults across the country taken from October 5-7, with a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points. This time, the overall number grew to 64%, or nearly two-thirds of all voters.
Virtually all of October’s gain came from Democrats, who went from just 39% expressing “concern” over Biden’s mental health in August, a high number in itself, to 52% in the latest poll.
Let that sink in: A majority of Democrats now also think Biden possibly has mental health issues.
By comparison, 86% of Republicans said they were either “very concerned” (67%) or “somewhat concerned” (19%), while 59% of independents said they were either concerned (33%) or “somewhat concerned” (26%).
Across demographic groupings, only blacks (52%), single women (59%), self-described moderates (58%) were below the 60% threshold for being “concerned” about Biden’s mental health.
And only one group — self-described liberals, at 45% — did not reach a majority that was concerned about Biden’s mental health.
With a growing list of threats and challenges — recession, an energy crisis, collapsing investment markets, surging illegal immigration, soaring inflation, escalating threats from both Russia and China, to name but a few — proliferating both here and abroad, some are already raising questions:
Is Biden’s mental infirmity a danger to this country?
Is it time for the president, who turns 80 next month, to be tested by competent medical experts and have the results openly released to allay public fears?
Recent video snippets show Biden wandering off stage, apparently lost, after speaking briefly; forgetting the name of the Declaration of Independence, the nation’s founding document; not remembering that a congresswoman he was honoring at a ceremony was in fact dead, asking “Where’s Jackie (Walorski)?”; invoking the possibility of nuclear “Armageddon” after Vladimir Putin’s military suffered setbacks in Ukraine; and so on.
Going back to early 2021 and before, when Donald Trump was still president, there was an accumulation of news stories, think pieces, blog posts, and op-eds regarding the possible expulsion of Trump through the 25th Amendment of the Constitution, which prescribes how to remove and replace a president who is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
A quick Google search yields nearly 12 million hits for the words “donald trump and 25th amendment.” A comparable search for “joe biden and 25th amendment” garners fewer than 4 million hits.
Trump took a mental fitness test in 2018 (the widely used Montreal Cognitive Assessment), passed it, and released the results. As Trump said in his typically hyperbolic way, he “aced it.”
The public release of the results made it hard later for Democrats to claim they wanted to remove him for cause of mental infirmity, rather than for political reasons.
But it didn’t end the controversy, with calls for Trump to be removed from office within weeks of the end of his term. The Jan. 6 Capitol demonstrations only added to the calls for Trump to be thrown out. The House even passed a symbolic, non-binding resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump.
“The best way to approach Biden’s apparent multiple memory lapses and periods of disorientation is not to speculate based on video clips alone but to demand full disclosure and transparency, especially of a president almost 80 years old with a significant medical history,” wrote Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor of medicine at New York University, in a recent op-ed.
“If he decides to run again, I’m on record demanding full health transparency of all candidates for higher office, tracing back to when John McCain was 71 and running for president in 2008,” Siegal added. “I called it ‘the McCain Protocol’ in 2016 when both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were over 70 and running for president.”
A number of conservative-leaning sites have openly asked why the 25th Amendment isn’t in play with an obviously impaired Biden at the helm. Even some Democrats are publicly beginning to question Biden’s ability to continue.
No doubt, as any political party would be, Democrats are concerned for what that would mean in the upcoming midterm elections, now less than a month away, but equally as much for what that would mean for the 2024 presidential election, now a mere two years away.
I&I/TIPP publishes timely and informative data each month from our polls on this topic and others of public interest. TIPP’s reputation for excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.
Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.