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Three Aged Candidates Prove the Power of Familiarity

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After Super Tuesday, the choice for president narrowed to three well-known—and very elderly—candidates.

By the time of November’s election, Donald Trump, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders will range in age from 74 to 79; whoever wins will qualify as the oldest president ever inaugurated.

This doesn’t demonstrate public preference for senior citizens—any more than it indicates prejudice favoring white males. The decisive advantage for Trump, Bernie and Biden involves their name recognition: they are vastly better known than any rivals.

Even before he ran the first time, Trump’s decades of celebrity status gave him decisive advantages since most citizens pay scant attention to politics, and instinctively prefer a familiar figure to names you don’t recognize—and maybe can’t pronounce. That’s particularly true at a time when most voters perceive the country’s doing well, or at least holding its own.

In that context, familiarity reliably trumps advanced age.

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