A growing share of Americans say Mitch McConnell's health and age severely limit his abilities

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
August 02, 2023, 7:37 PM GMT+0

Americans continue to see age as a problem for U.S. political leaders — and especially for President Joe Biden. According to the latest Economist YouGov Poll, twice as many say the 80-year-old president's age and health severely limit his ability to do his job as say the same would be true for Donald Trump, who is 77 years old (54% vs. 26%).

Concerning the four oldest members of the Senate, fewer Americans say the health and age of Chuck Grassley (18%) or Bernie Sanders (31%) severely limit their abilities as senators than say so about Dianne Feinstein (49%) and Mitch McConnell (51%). All four senators are older than Biden but also less well-known.

Following Mitch McConnell's recent public health episode, the share of Americans who say the effects of his health and age on his abilities are severe has increased dramatically. In June, just 28% said his abilities were severely affected; since then, the share who say so has risen 23 percentage points.

Americans' evaluations of politicians' health and age vary with their political party and their age. Members of each party are more likely to say health and age is impairing senators from the other party, though the partisan gap is smaller than for many other topics. And Americans 65 and older seem especially concerned about the advanced age of some elected officials — particularly McConnell and Feinstein.

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on July 29 - August 1, 2023 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty (Drew Angerer / Staff)