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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Age and elected office: Concerns about performance outweigh benefits of experience

In the eyes of Americans, age brings experience and seniority in elected office, but that’s outweighed by concerns that elected officials might be “out of touch” or unable to do the job past the age of 75.

Amid the increased attention lately on older officials — including on both parties’ leading candidates for president and prominent senators on either side —many Americans think these top jobs are too demanding for those over the age of 75, though a sizable number do think it depends.

So, what’s a hypothetical policy on this? A sizable, bipartisan majority would favor maximum age limits for elected officials, prohibiting them from holding office.

It’s one of the few things Democrats and Republicans agree on these days, maybe because both have leading officials who are over the age of 75.

This is not driven exclusively by younger Americans; older Americans, too, are supportive of age limits in similar numbers.

So, what should the maximum age be for officeholders?

When those who’d have a limit are offered a list of ages to set the cutoff, a majority would cut off officials by age 70.

Most members of Congress are below this cutoff, but a third of U.S. senators are over 70, as are the president and the current frontrunner for the Republican nomination.


This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,335 U.S. adult residents interviewed between September 5-8, 2023. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as past vote. The margin of error is ±2.7 points.

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