Well before Thursday’s presidential debate, voters harbored concerns about President Joe Biden’s fitness for office. The first batch of post-debate polling is out — and it shows an electorate even more concerned.

A CBS/YouGov poll conducted over the weekend found that nearly three-fourths of U.S. registered voters — 72% — think Biden does not have the mental and cognitive health to serve as president, up from 65% when the same question was asked in early June. Only 27% of voters think he does have the requisite health, down from 35%.

In a 538/Ipsos poll, only 1 in 5 voters (20%) say Biden’s mental fitness to be president is good or excellent, down from 27% just days before the debate. Democrat voters saw an even sharper drop: 42% of them say Biden is fit, down from 52% before the debate.

In a Morning Consult poll, 78% of all voters say Biden is too old, and 60% say he should “definitely” or “probably” be replaced as the Democratic nominee.

The calls for Biden to step down and be replaced by a different, and younger, Democrat have gone on for months. Biden faced long-shot primary challenges from a number of Democratic candidates, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson. But the Democratic National Committee filed behind Biden early, refusing to hold any primary debates. In turn, Biden’s challenges from within his party were short-lived: Kennedy launched an independent campaign in October, and Williamson and Phillips dropped out by early March.

Often, concerns about Biden’s age and mental fitness have faced sharp criticism from Biden’s Democratic allies. In February, when special counsel Robert Hur’s report raised concerns about Biden’s memory, top Democrats blasted it as “inappropriate” and “politically motivated.” Last month, when a Wall Street Journal report claimed that the 81-year-old president was showing mental lapses behind closed doors, a White House spokesman said the story included “false claims as a political tactic.”

But after Thursday’s debate, when Biden often appeared confused and spoke softly and sometimes incoherently, a growing share of voters seem to question whether Biden is fit for another term. Democratic voters are worried, too: in Morning Consult’s post-debate poll, a plurality of Democrats — 47% — say Biden should be replaced on the ticket.

Biden gets pressure from media to step aside

On Friday, The New York Times editorial board agreed. “Mr. Biden has been an admirable president,” the Times’ editorial read. “But the greatest public service Mr. Biden can now perform is to announce that he will not continue to run for re-election.”

Other left-leaning publications and personalities, many of whom have defended Biden’s competency for months, echoed the call. A senior editor at The New Republic called on Democrats to “ditch Biden” — less than a month after the publication called the WSJ exposé on Biden’s age “sleazy.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s editorial board said Biden should withdraw “for the good of the nation.” The New Yorker’s editor said keeping Biden on the ballot would be an act of “national endangerment.”


Meanwhile, at least one publication — the Philadelphia Inquirer — called on Trump to drop out.

Amid growing pressure to make a change, Biden, his campaign and the DNC are showing a unified front. At a rally in Raleigh on Friday, the day after the debate, Biden said he will stay in the race. A day later, DNC Chair Jaime Harrison and Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez held a call with DNC committee members and reiterated their support for Biden. But their decision not to take questions — and to largely ignore Biden’s performance at the debate — may have “worsened a widespread sense of panic among elected officials, donors and other stakeholders,” The Associated Press reported.

But those closest to Biden — his family and his chief advisers — have maintained staunch loyalty to the president and his reelection effort, The New York Times reported. Biden huddled at Camp David over the weekend with his wife, children and grandchildren, who argued that he should stay in the race. His chief advisers have repeated the same message, including Ron Klain, Biden’s former chief of staff who led debate preparations.

“He is the choice of the Democratic voters,” Klain said. “We are seeing record levels of support from grass-roots donors. We had a bad debate night. But you win campaigns by fighting — not quitting — in the face of adversity.”

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