Majority Florida Seniors Favor Ryan’s Medicare Plan

President Barack Obama speaks with Republican congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin during a nationally televised bipartisan meeting on health insurance reform at Blair House in Washington DC, February 25, 2010

President Barack Obama speaks with Republican congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin during a nationally televised bipartisan meeting on health insurance reform at Blair House in Washington DC, February 25, 2010 (White House/Pete Souza)

A slim majority of elderly voters in the state of Florida appears to approve of Congressman Paul Ryan’s plan to reform Medicare, the social insurance program that finances health care for seniors.

The politician from Wisconsin became the Republican Party’s vice presidential candidate last week. It was assumed that his controversial Medicare reform plan, which would either replace directing health care payments with a subsidy or at least give seniors the option of buying a private insurance plan, would jeopardize the party’s chances of winning Florida in November’s presidential election. With twenty-nine electoral votes, the state could provide decisive if the race is as close as opinion polls suggest.

Two surveys conducted since Ryan’s selection suggest that voters over the age of sixty-five support his plan more than younger voters do, however.

In a SurveyUSA poll, 53 percent of Floridian seniors said to have a favorable view of Ryan compared to 43 percent of the population at large. A Rasmussen poll found similar results: 54 percent of seniors said Ryan was the right choice for president candidate Mitt Romney while only 43 percent of all voters did.

A third, Purple Strategies poll found 46 percent of voters in Florida agreeing with the Republican description of Ryan’s plan as one that protects Medicare in the long term while 41 percent agreed with the Democratic criticism that the plan “ends Medicare as we know it by replacing guaranteed coverage with vouchers.” That poll did not break down the results per age.

Three months before the election, the disparities between age groups may be attributable to senior voters generally paying more attention to the election process early. Another possible explanation is that the majority of retired Floridians understands that Ryan’s plan wouldn’t change anything for them. His proposed reforms only apply to Americans under the age of fifty-five.

In any event, Ryan’s addition to the Republican ticket hasn’t done harm to it yet. In Florida, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are still neck in neck in preelection polls.