For the past few months, a debate has raged among partisans over who is mentally fit to lead the country. Republicans argue that Joe Biden is in cognitive decline while Democrats say that President Trump has mental problems of his own. Now a new poll shows that voters think that both sides are right.
The CNBC/Change Research poll of 4,143 likely voters in six swing states found that an almost identical percentage of voters viewed both candidates as mentally incapable of leading the country. A 51 percent majority said that President Trump was mentally unfit to be president while 49 percent disagreed. A similar share of respondents said that Biden is mentally unfit by a 52-48 margin.
Nationally, the poll found that slightly more voters deemed Trump unfit. In the nationwide version of the poll, 55 percent said that Trump’s mental health made him unfit for office while 52 percent thought Biden was mentally unfit.
Slightly more voters believe the two candidates are physically capable of handling the stresses of the presidency. Fifty-two percent said that Trump was physically fit to be president while 54 percent agreed that Biden was physically fit enough for the job, even though the 77-year-old Biden is three years older than Trump.
The poll also found that Joe Biden leads Trump outside the margin of error in each of the six swing states polled, Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and that a majority of voters in those states disapprove of the job President Trump is doing in keeping Americans safe. Only 48 percent approved of the job that Donald Trump is doing keeping communities safe but 52 percent did not blame the president for the violence.
The data doesn’t break down how many voters said that neither Trump nor Biden was mentally fit, but a large segment of voters probably don’t believe that either of the candidates is capable of leading the country. As in 2016, both parties have nominated candidates who don’t inspire the confidence of a large number of unaffiliated voters. A big part of the problem is the partisan voters who believe the worst about the opposing candidate but overlook the plank in their own champion’s eye.
The fact that people don’t like either candidate actually gives me some hope. If most voters don’t like the candidates that the two major parties are nominating, then maybe the parties will start listening and nominating people who have appeal outside the narrow partisan base. Or maybe more unhappy voters will get involved in primary elections to dilute the fringe demographics that allowed Donald Trump and Joe Biden and very nearly allowed Bernie Sanders to be nominated. Or maybe more voters will start looking outside the two major parties for leadership.
But that won’t happen this year. This year we are stuck with two candidates, each of whom is believed by a majority of voters to be mentally unfit to lead the country.
And I agree with the swing state voters who say that neither Trump nor Biden should be trusted with the helm of the United States. The problem is that one of them will be.
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