December 1, 2023

Joe Biden, the oldest president in American history, turned 81 on Monday. For Biden,  it’s a bittersweet occasion, a birthday that serves as a reminder of his deep struggles with young voters who increasingly view him negatively.

Biden’s mental and physical fitness have been a major issue since his 2020 campaign. Although his predecessor (and likely 2024 opponent), Donald Trump, is only about four years younger, Biden has received far more questions about whether he is capable of being president. 

Younger voters are already dreading a potential second Biden-Trump matchup, with some saying they may just sit out 2024. But the turn against Biden is much more dramatic.

A national NBC News poll that came out on Sunday found that just 42 percent of voters aged 18–34 support Biden. This is a significant drop compared to the 2020 election, when exit polls found that 60 percent of voters aged 18–29 backed Biden. That poll also found Biden trailing Trump with this demographic by four points—an alarming trend, given the president’s success with young voters in the last election. In 2020, 18–29 year olds, for instance flocked to Biden by more than 20 points. 

Multiple polls have found that the majority of voters worry about Biden’s age and how it will affect his ability to work. But younger voters are also concerned that Biden’s age prevents him from understanding their perspective on major issues.

Rachael Carroll, who graduated last year from Clark Atlanta University, told CNN that both Trump and Biden are too old to understand younger voters’ progressive views.

“They don’t understand what we’re going through now because we’re living in two completely different times,” Carroll said.

One crucial issue for young voters is the ongoing war in Gaza. Biden has so far resisted demands from voters to call for a cease-fire there and has provided Israel with significant, unrestricted aid. The outpouring of public support for Palestine has started to wear down Democratic lawmakers, but Biden is holding firm.

That could cost him. Although members of Gen Z are only just reaching voting age, the limited data shows that the majority of Gen Z adults are pro-Palestine.