Seniors are driving Mark Pryor's Arkansas Senate resurgence

But the Medicare attack could also help Pryor appeal to the elderly, who not only turn out for midterms but tend to vote Republican. About 15 percent of Arkansas’ population is over the age of 64, 1.3 percentage points above the national average. That same NBC-WSJ poll found Pryor leading Cotton among voters over 60 years of age, 56 percent-37 percent.

But not everyone thinks those numbers mean much. Pryor “knows he can’t reassemble the Obama collation here, so he’s got to try to make up for it somewhere else, which is why he’s running the same old ‘Medi-scare’ tactics,” said one Republican operative in the state. “We’re going to win seniors, and we’re going to win the election because of it.”

In one recent ad, Pryor touts legislation he wrote to make it more difficult to raise the Medicare eligibility age. “My opponent voted to withhold benefits until age 70. And I’m trying to stop that,” he says in the spot. The bill hasn’t gone anywhere since it was introduced in March, but the Senate Majority PAC is running ads with a similar message…

David Pryor hasn’t been on the ballot in years, but older voters are more likely to remember him and may have voted for him, observers say. While son Mark is only 51, he can draw contrasts between himself and his 37-year-old opponent. Pryor might look more “like the way anyone over 60 remembers the way his dad looks,” says Janine Parry, who directs the Arkansas Poll at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. “The contrast to Tom Cotton’s youth may be a way in which the rural, older, socially conservative Arkansans who are going to make the difference in this election [are] going to connect with Pryor,” she says.