We found that among adults over age 40, rates of doctor visits for viral illnesses gradually increased in the weeks before and after the first Tuesday in November — as we would expect in every cold and flu season — but election years were no different than years without an election.

This suggests that there was no major difference in outpatient visits for viral infections in years with elections years versus those without.

While we observed minor differences between presidential, midterm and nonelection years, they were within the margin of error of our model and are more likely related to varying severity of the overall flu season for the years included in each group.