Should presidential candidates be required to take cognitive exams and drug tests?

Hoang NguyenData Journalist
August 06, 2020, 5:00 PM UTC

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, 77, was asked recently by a reporter if he’d taken a cognitive test. Biden told the reporter that he had not taken such a test. 

Weeks earlier, President Donald Trump, 74, openly discussed, including with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, the results of a so-called cognitive exam that he’d taken.  

America elected its oldest first-term president four years ago and if Biden or Trump win in November, either would be the oldest sitting president in history. This point has raised questions on presidential fitness, particularly if candidates should be required to take a test to prove their mental acuity. 

Better than two-thirds of Americans strongly or somewhat support that these candidates be required to take a cognitive exam (67%). 

Across the political aisle, Democrats (71%), Republicans (71%), and Independents (68%) support the idea of testing candidates for cognitive ability. Majorities in all age groups support this idea including older adults (68% of Americans aged 55+) and younger adults (64% of 18- to 24-year-olds). While a majority support the idea that cognitive exams be required of presidential candidates, 14 percent oppose the idea. 
During the exchange with the reporter who asked about a cognitive test, Biden said such a question was akin to asking about a drug test.  

YouGov data shows that most Americans would support presidential candidates taking and reporting the results of drug tests, too. Democrats (73%), Republicans (77%), and Independents (64%) again find common ground on the question of administering drug tests to candidates. While majorities across all age groups support testing candidates for drugs, younger American adults aged 18- to 24-years-old are less likely to say they support it (59%). 
See the results on requiring presidential candidates to take drug tests and cognitive exams
 

Methodology: The YouGov polls are based on the interviews of 4,386 US adults aged 18 and over. All interviews were conducted online between August 5 – 6, 2020 and results have weighted to be nationally representative.

Image: Getty