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Expand chart
Adapted from a Kaiser Family Foundation column based on a poll conducted Sept. 19–Oct. 2 of 313 registered voters ages 65 and older with a margin of error of ±7 percentage points; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

The Democrats' emphasis on health care may give them a modest, but not a decisive, advantage with seniors in Tuesday's elections.

Why it matters: Older voters are the one group that always turns out to vote in midterm elections. They vote at higher rates than younger adults in all elections, but especially in midterms. In 2014, for example, turnout was 55% among the 60-plus population compared to about 16% among 18-29 year-olds.

  • They trust Democrats more on health care, and somewhat more seniors are Democrats than Republicans (41% vs. 31% in our latest poll).

As the chart shows, seniors are more likely to trust Democrats than Republicans on a range of health care issues. That helps give them a slight edge on health care with these voters, but as we learned in the 2010 and 2014 midterms — when Republicans won the House and then the Senate — health care alone doesn't necessarily decide the elections.

  • Senior voters are more evenly split on whether they trust Democrats or Republicans more on Medicare (45% vs. 41%). But Medicare, the health issue seniors care about most, has not been in play in these midterms, except for scattered Republican criticisms that Democrats' "Medicare for All" plans will harm the Medicare program and seniors.
  • Historically, seniors have balked at Republican proposals to restructure Medicare. For example, 77% oppose plans to convert Medicare to a premium support plan, and Republican candidates have mostly avoided this Medicare third rail in this election cycle.

Seniors are also more focused on voting priorities other than health care, such as which party controls Congress (picked by 77% of seniors vs 63% of younger voters), and in general they are more approving of President Trump (32% strong approval for seniors vs 23% for younger voters).

The bottom line: In midterms, it’s the bases for both parties and seniors who are most likely to vote. With Medicare mostly in hiding, the role health plays for the pivotal senior vote favors the Democrats but could be modest.

Go deeper

The elusive political power of Mexican Americans

Data: Pew Research Center, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Mexican Americans make up the nation's largest Latino group, yet they remain politically outshined by more recently arrived Cuban Americans.

Why it matters: The disparities in political power between Mexican Americans and Cuban Americans reflect the racial, historical, geographical and economic differences within Latino cultures in the U.S.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
47 mins ago - Health

The barriers to vaccine passports

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccine passports could become available soon to help people resume their livesbut they face numerous scientific, social and political barriers to being accepted.

The big picture: Reliable and accessible proof of vaccine-induced protection from the novel coronavirus could speed international travel and economic reopening, but obstacles to its wide-scale adoption are so great it may never fully arrive.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate action on stimulus bill continues as Dems reach deal on jobless aid

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic leaders struck an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on emergency unemployment insurance late Friday, clearing the way for Senate action on President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package to resume after an hours-long delay.

The state of play: The Senate continued to work through votes on a series of amendments overnight into early Saturday morning.