Just how powerful is Medicare as a political weapon? So powerful that for the past two election cycles it's been a favorite cudgel for both Republicans and Democrats. And the election of Democrat Kathy Hochul to fill a traditionally GOP seat in upstate New York in May is just the latest demonstration. Hochul and the national Democratic party ran a campaign based on large part on the House Republican Budget passed in April that would essential privatize the government program for the elderly and disabled. And their campaign worked. Harvard political scientist and pollster Robert Blendon isn't surprised. "Older Americans tend to vote at much higher rates than other voters," he says. At the same time, he adds, "they are the group that most care about health care as a voting issue."