For two years, Democrats have been getting "pummeled over spending and the size of government," says Alexander Burns at Politico. But they "appear to have found a political weapon that’s capable of evening out the fight: Medicare." The evidence? Democrat Kathy Hochul scored an upset victory in Tuesday's special election in New York's conservative 26th congressional district — partly by linking her Republican opponent to the House GOP budget that would transform the government health care plan for the elderly into a voucher system. Was this a one-time fluke, or can Democrats use this issue to regain control of the House in 2012?

Medicare could be the Democrats' ticket to victory: The odds that Democrats can win back the House, says Nate Silver at The New York Times, have certainly improved thanks to the Medicare debate, which polls suggest was a major factor in how people voted on Tuesday. Hochul's district is more Republican than the nation as a whole by six percentage points, so imagine the potential impact when Democrats "make a major issue of Medicare ... in every competitive Congressional election next year."
"Six months after midterm disaster, hopeful signs for Democrats"

The Left's scare tactics will wear thin: The election in NY-26 wasn't a defeat for GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare budget, says Michelle Malkin at her blog. It was a victory for Democratic scare tactics. But conjuring up visions of "seniors rolling off cliffs," pushed by Republicans, will only get the Left so far. Ultimately, people will see that Ryan and his fellow Republicans are just trying to have "a sober, serious, adult conversation on the long-term structural changes needed to keep the system solvent."
"Mediscare and the NY-26 loss; Plus: Ryan the Brave, Reid the Hack"

Ryan has saddled the GOP with a losing message: "The political dangers in the Ryan budget could have been predicted in advance," says David Frum at FrumForum. But now they're undeniable. He has taken issues that were working in Republicans' favor — fiscal responsibility and tax cuts — and fused them with "very tough Medicare reforms" that voters clearly despise. He's forcing his party's candidates to "run on a platform crafted to be maximally obnoxious to downscale voters," and writing off America's working class is no way to win an election.
"Paul Ryan: 2012's Goldwater?"