President Joe Biden has officially announced his re-election campaign after months of speculation, even by Democrats, that at his age, he might choose not to run again. Inaugurated in 2021 when he was 78, Biden is the oldest person ever to hold the office of the presidency.

Beyond the issue of his age, Biden has launched his campaign at a time when his approval rating rests at only 42%. “Presidential approval levels have been somewhat lower across more recent presidencies, as polarization has risen,” said Virginia Tech political professor Karen Hult. “Although it is better to be at 50% or higher, approval levels themselves generally are not indicators of defeat, especially in April the year before the election.”

Hult discussed the timing of Biden’s announcement and his campaign’s strategies going forward. “I expected the announcement to be relatively low-key, that is, video released by the White House,” she said. “The timing reflects the complex balancing act of a president running for reelection, with factors including the need to focus, or appear to be focusing, on governing, the press of other events and commitments, and the attempt not to distract from negative coverage of one’s opponents, such as criminal investigations of former President Trump, and Republican nomination and House controversies.” 

“Biden’s age — he'll be 86 at the end of a second term — is a concern for many in the public,” Hult said. “He’ll likely address it by focusing on his energy and on the advantages of being older: such as preparation, experience, and tempered judgment. Possible support also may come from those experiencing sometimes blatant, often subtle age discrimination in many workplaces.”

About Hult 
Karen Hult teaches political science at Virginia Tech and serves as chair of its Center for Public Administration & Policy, with expertise in the U.S. Presidency, federal and state politics, policy, and governance, and federal and state courts. See her bio.

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