Democratic voters in Philadelphia’s competitive Bucks County say they’re unconcerned about Biden’s age

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Levittown, Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania Democrats will grow their slim majority in the state House after winning a special election Tuesday in lower Bucks County, a competitive suburban county outside of Philadelphia.

According to a race call by the Associated Press, Democrat Jim Prokopiak, a local school board member, beat Republican Candace Cabana in the 140th House district, which has been held by a Democrat since its creation in 1969 and that President Biden won by 7 points in 2020. 

The official makeup of the state House following Prokopiak’s win is 102 Democrats and 100 Republicans, after one Republican lawmaker resigned last Friday and created a vacancy. That district is expected to remain Republican. 

Pennsylvania Republicans still hold a 28-seat to 22-seat majority in the state Senate. 

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee spent $50,000 to support Prokopiak, as his win continues a trend of success for the Democratic party in the commonwealth during off-year or special elections. In November 2023, Democrat Daniel McCaffrey won a spot on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, padding his party’s majority on the state’s highest court. That same month, Democrats also flipped control of the school board in Central Bucks County.

But the county overall has a history of tighter margins in presidential races. Mr. Biden won the county by just under five points in 2020, while former President Barack Obama and 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won by similar margins. 

“It’s always going to be contested, it’s always going to be close. That’s just how Bucks County is,” Prokopiak said at a polling site earlier Tuesday morning.

In a statement after the race was called for Prokopiak, Mr. Biden’s 2024 campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, tied the GOP loss to former President Trump, writing, “his unpopular extreme MAGA agenda continues to be rejected by voters.”

“Election after election, we’re seeing real momentum behind the Biden-Harris agenda, and with personal freedoms and democracy itself at stake this November, we’re confident Pennsylvania will again reject extremism and send Joe Biden back to the White House,” she wrote. 

Democratic voters downplay concerns about Biden’s age

Looking ahead to November, Democratic voters who appeared at the polls in person on Tuesday felt confident about Mr. Biden’s chances of winning Pennsylvania in a potential rematch with Trump, the frontrunner for the GOP nomination.

Most who spoke to CBS News dismissed concerns about the president’s age, which were brought into the spotlight by special counsel Robert Hur’s classified records report. The report concluded charges should not be brought against Mr. Biden, but said the president could “present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

Mr. Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their allies have called the characterization by Hur  “politically motivated.”

Biden is currently 81 years old and is the oldest sitting U.S. president. Trump will be 78 years old by the November general election, which several Democrats and independent voters at the polls pointed out. 

“Trump is no spring chicken either. He’s not. I really don’t think age has anything to do with it. It’s about how you treat people,” said Rose Kendrick, a Democrat who felt the economy under Mr. Biden has been on an upward trend. 

“He’s three years older than Trump. And look at the amount of mishaps Trump has had. He doesn’t know who was in charge of the capitol when [Jan. 6] happened, he doesn’t know who he’s running against,” said Leslie Benjamin, a 63-year-old Democrat. Benjamin said he had not seen Mr. Biden’s remarks last Friday when the president mistakenly referred to Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as the president of Mexico.

Bill Cousins, a Democratic voter in his 70s, referred to Trump as a “threat to democracy” and said press coverage of Biden has been “hung up on someone getting a few words mixed up.”

“[Trump] has said what he’s going to do. Day one dictator, mass deportations, closing the border, stacking the judicial systems,” he said, referencing several comments made by Trump in recent speeches and interviews. “Assuming [Biden] has had a couple miles an hour taken off his fastball, that may very well be, but at the end of the day, I can’t see where that’s affected any policy decisions.”

Sam Weed, a 36-year-old Democrat, said Mr. Biden has been “doing a lot more for the country than other presidents” but that she “obviously would like a younger candidate” such as California Governor Gavin Newsom. Weed also predicted that, come November, voters would be more concerned about the issue of abortion than the candidates’ ages.

Since last weekend, Biden’s campaign has chided the amount of press coverage of the topic, contrasting it with what it sees as comparatively little coverage of Trump’s recent comments about how he “would encourage” Russian aggression against NATO allies who don’t meet spending targets.

“Marquee media outlets in America deemed it less newsworthy than gratuitous and sensationalist attacks on the President’s age,” wrote TJ Ducklo, senior communications advisor for the Biden campaign, on Monday. 

A CBS News poll from last December found that 39% of Democrats polled didn’t believe Biden should have run for re-election, and nearly all (93%) of those respondents cited his age as their top reason. 

In a rally speech last Saturday, Trump said, “The real problem facing our country is not Joe Biden’s decline — the real problem is that Joe Biden is causing America’s decline.” A spokesperson for Trump’s super PAC, Make America Great Again, Inc!, went further, and said in a statement after the Hur report, “If you’re too senior to stand trial, then you’re too senile to be president.”

Trump’s only remaining GOP challenger, 52-year-old Nikki Haley, has repeatedly suggested both Mr. Biden and Trump aren’t mentally fit for the job. Over the weekend, she handed out mental competency tests during a campaign stop in South Carolina. 

But self-described independent voters who voted in Bucks County on Tuesday were more mixed on whether age is a relevant factor in their vote for president. 

Ron Williams, who voted Republican in Tuesday’s election but is undecided on his presidential vote, said he was more concerned with policy differences between Mr. Biden and Trump on issues such as government spending and immigration, rather than their age.

“It’s not something I really think about. Some of the gaffes you see on TV, some of the other things. But they’re similar in age, I really don’t think it’s a problem,” he said.

Charlie Denaro said age is “100%” a factor in his vote, for either Biden or Trump.

“We need some young people to step up on both sides, Democrats and Republicans. Some shining star to come out here and have a fresh attitude,” he said, adding that he doesn’t know if Mr. Biden “could do” another term and that Trump would be “in the same situation at the end of his term if he wins.” 



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