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For the Obama Campaign, a Cloud with a Silver Lining

It's a good news-bad news thing that's got to be really frustrating for the message-makers inside the Obama campaign.

Voters in the 65-and-up bracket, polls show, believe the president and the Democrats will do a better job serving older Americans and have better ideas for Social Security, Medicare and health care. But they still prefer Republican Mitt Romney.

The margins are narrow all the way around, suggesting that voters 65 and older are as divided as everyone else over their top-of-the-ticket choice. But Romney still edges President Barack Obama 40.1 percent to 38.8 percent, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. Romney, who's advocated raising the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare and slowing the growth of benefits for wealthier Americans, does even better among Social Security and Medicare recipients.

But that doesn't mean older voters agree with Romney or with Republicans, many of whom have signed onto a budget plan by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that would give older Americans the option of receiving government vouchers to buy private health insurance. The poll showed that voters 65 and older think Obama has better plans for Medicare (where he bests Romney 29.3 percent to 27.5 percent) and for Social Security (where he bests Romney 28.7 percent to 27.3 percent).

What's more, Democrats have a tiny edge (30.9 percent versus 29.9 percent) on the question of who would serve older Americans better.

Still, the numbers offer some hope for the Obama campaign. Obama lost the 65-and-older vote to GOP nominee John McCain in 2008 , 45 percent to 53 percent margin, making it Obama's weakest age group. Obama may be losing the 65+ vote to Romney right now, but he's still doing better with older voters he did four years ago - when he still won. - Susan Milligan

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