Voters:  Trump Would Be Better Able to Stay Alert During Meetings, Handle a Nuclear Emergency, Remember the Name of World Leaders than Biden

A new poll found that former President Donald Trump is more trusted to handle an hourlong summit with Putin or deal with a nuclear crisis than 81-year-old President Joe Biden. 

The 2024 presidential election sees the two oldest candidates in U.S. history facing off.

Barring some catastrophe, one of the candidates will be sworn in for his second term as the commander-in-chief during a time of global uncertainty. 

Intelligence agencies in the U.S. recently warned of an “increasingly fragile world order as China and Russia jockey for position against a backdrop of economic difficulties, the acceleration of the use of artificial intelligence, and regional conflicts.

Brett Bruen, former U.S. diplomat and president of the Global Situation Room, said the state of the world in 2024 meant voters would want to choose a candidate with a cool demeanor.

“The likelihood that we could find ourselves embroiled in a major conflict is greater now, arguably than at any point since the Berlin Wall fell, and the scenarios in which a commander-in-chief is going to be called upon to make split-second decisions is greater now than at any point in the last several decades,” said Bruen.

J.L. Partners polled 1,005 probable voters to test their confidence in each candidate and their thoughts on how Trump and Biden would handle everything from remembering names to national security crises.

The results aren’t encouraging news for either candidate; however, they are especially grim for the candidate currently in the position.

However, 56 percent of poll respondents said they had confidence in former President Trump’s ability to make “decisions and be fully alert during a nuclear emergency.” In comparison, only 45 percent said the same of Biden.

Almost two-thirds said they trusted Trump to make it through an hourlong meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but only 43 percent believed Biden could handle it.

Respondents said Trump was more likely to remember the names of critical staff members, beating Joe Biden by 15 points.

President Biden was also judged to be less likely to remember the names of world leaders while he was speaking with them (Trump surpassed Biden by 59 percent to 46 percent) and to be able to properly digest the contents of his daily national security briefings.

Although the results are affected by party preferences, the differences are even more distinct among independent voters.

For example, only 37 percent of independents believe Joe Biden could make it through a one-hour meeting with Vladimir Putin. This demonstrates the challenges facing the oldest president in U.S. history as he attempts to convince voters he has the mental and physical vigor to lead the country for an additional four years.

James Johnson, co-founder of J.L. Partners, which conducted the poll, said age isn’t as crucial as perception.

“Though Trump is only three years Biden’s junior, they think he is up to the job and will be able to manage the pressures of the office,” said Johnson. “A lot of this is due to Trump’s presentation, frenetic activity, and regular stump speeches. He is also resting on his political reputation for strength: voters say strength is Trump’s biggest asset, and that he is more physically strong and able to get things done than Biden.”

“That is all coming together and crystallizing in voters’ minds as a relative positive about Trump,” continued Johnson.

They worry about his demeanor and style but don’t doubt his ability to handle the rigorous schedule accompanying his office.

Full slate of crises await next president

Whoever wins the presidency in November will have a full slate of crises.

The Ukraine-Russia war continues with no end on the horizon. Russia continues to detain U.S. citizens to use as bargaining tokens.

The chaotic crisis at the southern border has become a constant feature, raising concerns about national security.

China continues to threaten Taiwan by pursuing its expansionist policies in the region, and Hamas’ attack on Israel, combined with the Israeli response, has invigorated proxies backed by Iran throughout the Middle East.

“An ambitious but anxious China, a confrontational Russia, some regional powers, such as Iran, and more capable non-state actors are challenging longstanding rules of the international system as well as U.S. primacy within it,” said American spy agencies in their 2024 Annual Threat Assessment, which was released earlier in March.

Bruen said that with two older candidates, voters needed not just to examine the abilities of the two men. 

“Equally important are those that they will surround themselves with, because ultimately, when you’re dealing with someone who is older — and is the case of Trump as someone who’s prone to rash moves — it really comes down to the national security adviser, the defense secretary, the Secretary of State to guide him back from the brink,” said Bruen.

According to Bruen, “Biden had shown caution when confronted with an apparent Chinese spy balloon floating across the country or Russian missiles falling on NATO territory. If it comes down to a decision between slow and stupid, I’ll take slow.”