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As Damning DOJ Report Emerges, Voters Worried About Biden’s Mental Acuity: I&I/TIPP Poll

62% say Biden is not likely to drop out of the presidential race in March.

Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

With the stunning report by the Justice Department suggesting that President Joe Biden is not mentally fit enough to face charges for mishandling state secrets, it’s now become an open question: Does that mean Biden isn’t mentally fit to be president? Americans are overwhelmingly worried that the answer is no, the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows.

Mere days before the release of a blockbuster government report that indicated Biden’s age-related mental decline is real and not just a partisan talking point, the I&I/TIPP Poll asked American voters: “President Biden is seeking a second term. How would you rate his mental acuity?”

A 51% majority responded that they would rate Biden’s mental sharpness either “poor” (18%) or “unacceptable” (33%), versus a minority of 29% who answered that his mental abilities warranted either an “excellent” (13%) or “good” (16%) grade.

Translated into the familiar A, B, C, D and F grades used by American public schools, a majority give Biden either failing (“F”) grades or near-failing (“D”) grades.

The national online poll was conducted from Jan. 31-Feb. 2, just days before the Justice Department’s Feb. 5 report, and included 1,266 respondents. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.

But once again, when it comes to politics, it’s a “Republicans are from Mars, Democrats are from Venus” difference in the responses: Just 19% of Dems give Biden either “poor” (11%) or “unacceptable” (8%) marks for his mental acuity, compared to the 82% of GOP members that called Biden’s mental clarity “poor” (21%) or “unacceptable” (61%).

Independents, as often is the case, lay somewhere in the middle of the two parties, with 55% of indie voters giving Biden poor (23%) or unacceptable (32%) scores for his mental sharpness.

In a follow-on question, poll respondents were asked also about Biden’s physical health, after a series of falls and stumbles during his term, which have many Americans wondering whether Biden’s overall health is failing as well.

As with the first question, for continuity registered voters were asked: “President Biden is seeking a second term. How would you rate his physical fitness?”

Again, the response wasn’t favorable for Biden. Among all voters, 47% termed Biden’s physical health either poor (21%) or unacceptable (26%), while only 28% called his health either excellent (10%) or good (18%).

Among Dems, 49% gave Biden high passing grades for overall health, while 17% gave him failing or poor grades. For Republicans, just 8% gave Biden the best health grades, while 76% put him in the near-failing or failing category. Independents doled out 23% high grades vs. 50% low grades.

One further question was asked, out of historical interest given growing concerns about Biden’s ability to conduct the duties of his office.

Noting the precedents of former presidents Harry S. Truman and Lyndon Johnson both dropping out of the running in March of their reelection year campaigns, I&I/TIPP asked voters: “In your opinion, how likely is it that President Joe Biden will drop out in March of 2024?”

Just 28% of those responding answered either “very likely” (11%) or “somewhat likely” (17%). Another 62% said it was either “not very likely” (35%) or “not at all likely” (27%), with 11% saying they were not sure.

I&I/TIPP also asked Democrats this: “If President Biden decides not to run in 2024, who will be your top choice for the Democratic candidate?”

Here, there’s no clear, winner.

Vice President Kamala Harris tops the list with 20% support, followed by former First Lady Michelle Obama (16%), Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (12%), California Gov. Gavin Newsom (10%), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (8%), Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (6%), Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (5%), Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (3%), and Williamson, at just 2%.

“Someone else” gets 4% of Democrats, while “not sure” stands at 13%.

It’s important to note that the poll was taken just days before last week’s report by leading Special Counsel Robert Hur that Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.”

But, Hur went on to call Biden a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” and suggested his interviews with Biden suggested his “memory was significantly limited.”

As a result, Hur said he would not try Biden on charges for mishandling an estimated 300 classified documents because his declining mental abilities would make him very difficult to convict. But his remarks made clear that Biden’s ability to remember even significant events was limited.

In his interview with our office, Mr. Biden’s memory was worse. He did not remember when he was vice president, forgetting on the first day of the interview when his term ended (‘if it was 2013 – when did I stop being Vice President?’), and forgetting on the second day of the interview when his term began (‘in 2009, am I still Vice President?’). He did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died. And his memory appeared hazy when describing the Afghanistan debate that was once so important to him. Among other things, he mistakenly said he ‘had a real difference’ of opinion with General Karl Eikenberry, when, in fact, Eikenberry was an ally whom Mr. Biden cited approvingly in his Thanksgiving memo to President Obama.

In a late Thursday night press conference addressing the report, Biden aggressively defended his mental acuity. “My memory is fine,” Biden said in televised comments. “Take a look at what I’ve done since I’ve become president.”

Minutes later, however, Biden made a major gaffe, mistakenly identifying Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as Mexico’s president.

In remarks earlier this month, Biden made some other worrisome mistakes in identifying leaders of other nations.

In describing a G7 summit meeting in 2021, Biden claimed that German Chancellor Helmut Kohl spoke to him about the Jan. 6 violence at the U.S. Capitol. The only problem: Kohl left office in 1998, and died in 2017. Angela Merkel was chancellor in 2021.

Referencing the same G7 meeting, Biden said: “It was in south of England and I sat down and I said: ‘America’s back,” Biden said. “And Mitterrand from Germany, I mean from France, looked at me and said: ‘You know, how long you back for’?”

Again, Mitterrand held office from 1981 to 1995, and died in 1996. Emmanuel Macron has been French president since 2017.

Such repeated verbal mistakes are not a good sign, as even some Democrats quietly agree.

“Fair or not, you can’t unring the bell,” said David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s former top strategist, noting that the question of Biden’s mental issues “goes to the core of what is plaguing Biden politically now, which is a widespread fear that he’s not up to it.”

Will Biden quietly bow out, yielding the presidency to his unpopular No. 2, Vice President Kamala Harris?

Will Biden’s cabinet invoke the 25th amendment, which allows for the removal of a president in the event of diminished mental capacity?

Or will Biden be nudged out this summer at the Democratic Convention by top party officials fearing a massive defeat in 2024?

And, finally, if Biden prevails in remaining in office and is judged mentally fit enough to be president, does that mean he should then be tried for the crimes the DOJ suggested he likely committed in mishandling classified documents while out of office?

However it ends up, Biden’s light has dimmed considerably with the DOJ report. For now, it seems highly unlikely that the status quo in the White House can be maintained without major political fallout. 

I&I/TIPP publishes timely, unique, and informative data each month on topics of public interest. TIPP’s reputation for polling excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.

Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.

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