According to a new poll which measured the characteristics Americans find most desirable in a president, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) may have some serious trouble among the general public. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked respondents about 11 different characteristics of theoretical candidates, and found that among the least popular were being a socialist, which only 25% of respondents approved of, and being over the age of 75, which only 37% of respondents approved of.
Of socialism in general, only 18% of respondents approved, while 50% of respondents disapproved. Conversely, 50% of respondents approved of capitalism with only 19% disapproving.
The most popular characteristics according to the poll were virtually tied: being African- American, of which 87% of respondents said they were either “enthusiastic” or “comfortable,” ran neck-and-neck with being white, which garnered 86%. Being female was approved by 84% of respondents.
Despite the poll finding 41% of respondents saying they would reelect President Trump, almost 90% of GOP voters approve of him, giving his base a rock-solid feel to it. At the same point in his presidency, only 38% of voters said they would reelect former President Bill Clinton.
Bill McInturff, a GOP pollster, pointed out that Trump’s strength is tied to the strength of the economy, saying, “As long as these economic numbers look like this, that always keeps an incumbent president in the race.”
Additionally, approval of Trump’s performance as president has remained steady, and is even three points higher that it was in January.
Despite the fact that some of Sanders' essential characteristics leave him undesirable to the general public, it is far from certain that Democrats will heed the warning; the poll also found that 55% of Democratic primary voters said they wanted a non-moderate candidate, even if their policies might be expensive and tough to be legislated, while only 42% preferred a candidate whose policies were more moderate and easier to pass into law.
Buttressing that perspective: 56% of Democratic primary voters wanted a candidate whose policies reflected their own while only 40% preferred the candidate best suited to defeat President Trump.
Interestingly, voters who elect Democratic presidents have a history of looking for younger presidents, while Republican presidents have a much more varied age group when successfully winning the presidency. Of the six oldest presidents in U.S. history, four of them have been Republicans (Donald Trump, 70, Ronald Reagan, 69, George H. W. Bush, 64, and Dwight Eisenhower, 62) and the other two were Whigs (William Henry Harrison, 68, and Zachary Taylor, 64). On the younger side among the GOP, Ulysses S. Grant was 46, James Garfield was 49, and Calvin Coolidge was 51. Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest president in American history at 42, although he succeeded to the office after the assassination of William McKinley, who was only 54 at the time he himself was elected.
The emphasis for winning Democratic candidates has been on youth, especially in the last 100 years. Among Democrats, you’d have to go all the way back to Andrew Jackson in 1828 to find a candidate over 60 who won the presidency. The oldest successful Democratic candidate in the 20th century was Woodrow Wilson, who was 56 when he was elected; the oldest Democratic candidate to win the presidency in the last 100 years was Jimmy Carter, who was only 52 when he won in 1976 by a hairsbreadth over Gerald Ford after the resignation of Richard Nixon.