Special reports: THE IDEA FACTORY
a way with words

Americans of all parties agree: Joe Biden is old, Michael Bloomberg is rich

February 28, 2020

Pollsters at The Associated Press and NORC gave the public a chance to describe presidential candidates in one word or short phrase. The results were... telling.

Democrats described former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as nearly equal parts "smart," "young," and "gay." Independents and Republicans were far more likely to describe him as "gay," as well as "inexperienced," and "centrist." Philanthropist Tom Steyer was more overwhelmingly described as "rich" by Democrats, while independents and Republicans opted for "inexperienced."

While former Vice President Joe Biden scored some mentions of "good person" among Democrats, he mostly got "old." Independents and Republicans also mostly called him "old," followed by "corrupt" and "creepy."

Democrats and independents similarly described Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as "old" at the highest rate, though Republicans went straight for "socialist," followed by "old," and "communist."

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is older than Biden and just months younger than Sanders, is universally regarded as "rich" (a fair assessment), and Republicans said he's "buying the election."

Democrats were split in describing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as "smart" and "strong," though independents and Republicans view her primarily as a "liar," as well as "crazy" and a "woman," which is hardly up for debate.

While the Democratic candidates were generally regarded more positively by members of their own party, surveyed Republicans didn't come up with great words for President Trump. Most Republicans simply said "president," followed by "bumbling" and "jerk."

The AP-NORC poll was conducted Feb. 12-16 via phone interviews with 1,074 adults. The margin of error is ±4.2 percentage points. View the full results at AP-NORC. Summer Meza