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Fifteen states, including Minnesota, will hold presidential primaries next week on "Super Tuesday." The date is noteworthy, but two superseding statements from jurists just might matter more to voters come November.

The first was from Robert Hur, the special counsel investigating President Joe Biden's retention of classified materials, who stated: "At trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory."

The second was from Arthur Engoron, the judge presiding over former President Donald Trump's civil fraud trial, who said this about Trump and his two adult sons: "Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological."

Forget whether Hur or Engoron are qualified to make mental assessments of presidents; most voters aren't either. Yet age and ethics are factors that have unprecedented prominence in the 2024 presidential race.

The two statements are "very social-media worthy; they're created in ways that allow them to have virality," said Natalie Jomini Stroud, the founder and director of the University of Texas's Center for Media Engagement. Whether witting or unwitting (and critics have questioned each jurist's motive), they're "reinforcing statements" that are "very likely to play very well to people that already hold that belief."

But Biden's bid may be impacted more. "If we asked Democrats 'are you worried about Biden's age?' and if we asked Republicans 'are you worried about Donald Trump's mental well-being?' I think what we would find is that fewer Republicans would say that they're concerned about Trump's mental well-being than we could find Democrats concerned about Biden's age," Stroud said.

Data from a recently released Quinnipiac poll confirms Stroud's opinion: Only 34% of voters said that Biden "has the mental fitness to serve a second term" compared to 48% who said so of Trump. Conversely, only 29% said that Trump was "ethical," compared to 49% who said that about Biden.

The ethics metrics are a sharp departure from previous generations' "general assumption that, whether it was Republican or Democrat, [the candidate] was a person of goodwill and integrity," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center. Jamieson, a Minnesota native, said that candidates "disagreed on philosophical grounds, they would govern differently, but you didn't assume they were venal liars. Now, you've got a good section of the electorate that approaches that all by thinking 'I don't trust the bunch of them.'"

Unless, it seems, they're on your side. In particular, Jamieson said, how MAGA magnifies one candidate's credibility. Trump "has transformed the way in which people assess political discourse" insofar "as you've got followers who believe anything he says," which, she added, "is like the acceptance that we granted most politicians before we assume they all lie."

This degree of partisanship is among the most defining dynamics of this year's race and this era's politics, said Daniel Myers, a University of Minnesota assistant professor of political science. Myers, whose research focuses on political psychology and political communication, said that overall, Biden's age and Trump's ethics "are not new information to even the most disengaged voters, so in economic terms, to some degree, this is priced into where they stand currently in approval polls."

Economic terms — in the literal sense — typically determine presidential perceptions, but "this year is a tricky one," Stroud said, citing election models based on economic comparisons complicated by pandemic-skewed data, among other anomalies. That, she added, is "another reason that policy isn't being emphasized in the same way — because the issue that presidential elections gravitate toward is messy right now."

Indeed, while macro-level metrics (near record-low unemployment and record-high equity markets as well as a declining inflation rate) are increasingly sanguine for Biden, micro, individual-level observations on the cost of a gallon of gas or a box of Grape-Nuts drive consumers crazy — and there's even more profound possible fallout from spiraling mortgage and rental rates. Politically, the conflicting numbers numb, so voters may evaluate on numbers they intuitively understand: 81, Biden's age, and 91, the number of charges Trump faces from four indictments.

And the disengaged voters Myers mentioned are often also disengaged news viewers, readers and listeners, Stroud said. "There's been a lot of recent scholarship documenting that there's a healthy chunk of the public who actively seeks to avoid the news," she said. "They've tried to construct their day and their information ecosystem in ways that allow them to. They find [the news] overwhelming; they find it confusing; they find it depressing. They don't see the point to keeping up with [it]."

This may be another reason for the resonance of Hur's and Engoron's assessments of Biden's age and Trump's ethics. But Jamieson believes the age issue in particular "is being mis-framed." Biden, she said, "is actually an administration, where Trump is an individual." Biden, she added, "is surrounded by people, including on the cabinet and advisers, with people he listens to, who are highly competent individuals with lengthy service records and impressive biographies."

The relevance "to both the ethics and age issue is because when you think of two different environments, in one case you're electing a team and the other you're electing a person," Jamieson said. "In the case of Biden, that allays concerns, if you have them about age. In the case of Trump, if you have concerns about anything it will magnify them, because the prediction of the second term for Trump is he will be surrounded by more people who will agree with [him] and not thwart his baser instincts."

Americans, however, seem to reject both models — and candidates. What's worse, according to a January Gallup poll, is that the prospect of a presidential-race rematch may be behind the record-low 28% who say they are satisfied "with the way democracy is working in this country."

Tuesday's Michigan primary reflected in real time some of this dissatisfaction. Sure, the front-runners won by big margins. But both were hounded by dogged opponents: Nikki Haley in Trump's case, and outrage over Gaza in Biden's. That resulted in "uncommitted" coming in second in the Democratic primary, with about 13.2% of the vote — a dire warning for November.

Exactly eight months separate Super Tuesday from Election Day. During that span, economic, geopolitical and domestic dynamics may shape the race in unexpected ways. But so too may events underscoring unique concerns about age and ethics in an election that may be a rematch, but may not shape up to be a rerun.