Poll: Democrats wary of nominating older candidate

Democrats also say they want someone with experience in government — hoping to unseat the first-time candidate currently in the White House. But a majority of Democratic primary voters say it’s at least somewhat important the party nominate someone under 70 — criteria that would disqualify each of the top three candidates currently in the polls.

As the top seven candidates meet for the PBS NewsHour/POLITICO debate Thursday in Los Angeles, Democratic voters are still sorting through a large field. Among the four who will be center-stage — the top-polling candidates — all are white, three are men and three are in their 70s.

Of the 13 characteristics tested, more Democratic primary voters said “decades of political experience” was important than any other. Despite that, Democratic primary voters in the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll are wary of nominating an older candidate.

“Although the current 2020 frontrunners are mostly septuagenarians, Democratic voters are more likely to voice preference for younger candidacies,” said Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult’s vice president. A majority, 52 percent, say it’s at least somewhat important the nominee be younger than 70 years old, and nearly as many, 49 percent, say there should be a maximum age for presidents.

On ideology, slightly more Democratic primary voters say it’s “very important” for the Democratic nominee to be “liberal” (22 percent) than “moderate” (17 percent). But when those Democrats who say it’s “somewhat important” are added, “moderate” inches past “liberal.”

No issue on the Democratic debate stage has reflected the left-vs.-center-left debate than “Medicare for All,” the single-payer health care system championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and also supported by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Overall, 74 percent of Democratic primary voters say they support “Medicare for All” in the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, with 45 percent saying they “strongly support” it.

The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll was conducted Dec. 14-15 — before the House’s vote Wednesday night to impeach Trump.

While some liberal commentators have fretted that an acquittal in the GOP-controlled Senate could strengthen Trump’s position in the 2020 election, few Democratic primary voters share that view. Only 9 percent said the impeachment inquiry makes it more likely Trump will win reelection next year, while a 54 percent majority said it makes it less likely voters will reelect Trump.

The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll surveyed 1,991 registered voters via online interviews and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. For the subsample of 861 registered voters who say they will participate in a Democratic primary or caucus, the margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent.

Morning Consult is a nonpartisan media and technology company that provides data-driven research and insights on politics, policy and business strategy.

More details on the poll and its methodology can be found in these two documents: Toplines | Crosstabs

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