The world’s 10 oldest leaders
A 2008 Pew study found that while less than a quarter of younger voters, when told his age, considered McCain too old for the presidency, fully 40 percent of retirement-age voters regarded him as too old.
While some people might find this result counterintuitive, I’m not really surprised that younger voters have less of a problem with McCain’s age than older voters do.
I think our perceptions of age and youth are formed early in life. I suspect many of today’s “retirement age” voters remember their own parents and grandparents retiring at age 65 and becoming old, tired and fragile by age 75. By comparison, younger voters are likely to see their own aging parents and grandparents (who are, ironically, those same “older voters”) in a much more positive light. Many of their parents are still working, and the cumulative results of more effective healthcare, a safer environment, and a lifetime of good nutrition means that far more than ever before are likely to be active and healthy well into their 80’s or 90’s. That group of voters looks at McCain and sees a fairly robust man who’s a little older than dad, a little younger than gramps, and not particularly likely to keel over during the next four years.
McCain’s been through some tough times, yes, but he seems like he’s held up pretty well. He’s gotten good medical care and seems as mentally sharp as ever. Two terms might be pushing it, yes, but I’m really not worried about his age this time around. And I suspect that when it comes down to it most voters will base their decisions on other factors entirely.