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US Voters: Age Matters in Presidential Candidates

2019-6-16

A recent public opinion survey found that Americans have concerns about the age of presidential candidates. The survey is connected to the Williams Institute at UCLA. It found that voters are more likely to reject a candidate over 70 years old than one who is homosexual.

The information comes as Americans prepare for the 2020 presidential election. On Election Day next November, Senator Bernie Sanders would be 79; former Vice President Joe Biden 77; President Donald Trump 74; and Senator Elizabeth Warren 71.

The two youngest candidates are Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who are both in their thirties. Buttigieg is also one of the first openly gay presidential candidates from a major party.

The survey was meant to find out Americans’ opinions about a homosexual presidential candidate. A public opinion survey in 2007 found that Americans were more likely to support a candidate in his or her seventies than one who was homosexual.

Twenty four 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are seen in a combination from file photos.
Twenty four 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are seen in a combination from file photos.

But this year, a number of national surveys showed the opposite. The recent UCLA survey found that nearly half of adults in the U.S. would be “much” or “somewhat” less likely to support a presidential candidate older than 70. In contrast, about one-third said they would be less likely to vote for someone who is gay.

The survey measured the public’s general acceptance of people from different groups. It did not ask about voters’ support for individual candidates.

Kyle Kondik is a political observer at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. Kondik noted that people’s answers in a survey can be different from what they decide on Election Day. People might say they want a younger candidate, Kondik observed. But age may not be the only issue that informs their vote.

I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

Kelly Jean Kelly adapted this Reuters report for VOA Learning English with additional material from the National Review. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.

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Words in This Story

survey – n. an activity in which many people are asked questions about an issue to understand better what the public thinks about it

contrast – n. something that is different from another thing