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 29 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 65 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 55.

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.

Romney’s Election Strategy Hinges on Florida, Ohio

Mitt Romney will be hard pressed to defeat incumbent president Barack Obama in November. The Republican’s own “3-2-1” election strategy hinges on winning both traditional battleground states Florida and Ohio.

Republicans assume that they will win the states that John McCain did in the 2008 election. A safe assumption because these states, in the south and heartland of America, are conservative and nearly always voted for the Republican candidate in presidential polls.

The challenge for Romney is to win back states that propelled George W. Bush to victory in 2000 and 2004. Besides Ohio and Florida, which wield 47 out of the 270 electoral votes needed to win between them, that includes Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia. Barack Obama won by he narrowest of margins in the first two states but Virginia, with thirteen electoral votes, will be an uphill battle for Romney.

According to Gallup, 42 percent of Virginians lean Republican and 41 percent lean Democrat. 55 percent of voters there describe themselves as either liberal or moderate. Obama swept the moderate vote in 2008 and beat John McCain by more than 200,000 votes.

If Romney wins Virginia, it will be because he managed to sway the working-class vote. That same constituency he needs to reach in industrial states like Indiana, Iowa and Ohio.

A Pew Research Center poll conducted last year found that 43 percent of white blue-collar voters don’t believe that they will be better off ten years from now. It was the most negative view of any of the groups polled and helps explain why, in the 2010 congressional election, working-class voters gave Republicans 63 percent of their vote, thirty more points than for Democrats.

This is the group that has suffered the worst from the recession but it also regards warily the former businessman Romney, a millionaire many times over whom the Democrats will to try to portray as “out-of-touch” with the working man. Indeed, they already are.

If Romney wins Ohio, which is far from certain, and wins Florida, which seems more likely, he will have to pick up at least one more state to reach the 270 electoral votes that are needed to win. He could do well in New Hampshire, a northeastern swing state, and out west in Colorado, where Romney and the president are tied.

More likely, he will focus on Iowa and Wisconsin which wield six and ten electoral votes respectively — states that voted for Obama in 2008 but otherwise lean Republican.

Romney Rebounds in Florida, Gingrich to Stay in Race

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney cruised to victory in Florida’s primary election on Tuesday, beating his foremost rival for the nomination, Newt Gingrich, by an almost 15 percentage point margin according to early election results.

Romney, who is considered the frontunner, needed a win in the Sunshine State to rebound after Gingrich came out the winner in South Carolina’s conservative primary more than a week ago.

The former House speaker was up in preelection polls in Florida last week and still leads in the nationwide surveys but a number of grueling television advertisements run by the Romney campaign after a disappointing performance by their opponent in the last debate before the primary may have doomed his chances of staging another insurgent win the South.

Unlike was the case in the earlier primary contest, all of Florida’s fifty delegates to the nominating convention in August are awarded to the statewide winner. There, they will be bound to the candidate for three rounds of voting.

Gingrich has vowed to stay in the race whatever his performance in the upcoming votes, raising the possibility of a brokered convention in which none of the contenders has amassed a majority of delegates necessary to claim the nomination before August.

There will be caucuses in Nevada, Maine, Colorado and Minnesota next week. The Missouri primary is set for February 7 while Arizona and Michigan vote February 28. With the exception of Arizona, these states are all considered less conservative and favorable to Romney.

Gingrich would have a chance to rebound on March 6, Super Tuesday, when ten states vote at once. Among them, Gingrich’s home state of Georgia as well as Oklahoma and Tennessee, states in the Upper South that are solidly Republican and home to millions of evangelical Christians.

Texas congressman Ron Paul hopes to do well in Nevada and Colorado where right-wing voters are more libertarian. He, too, could remain competitive in states that award their delegates on a proportional basis although his support rarely exceeds 20 percent.

Gingrich Presses Attack, Romney Ahead in Florida

Appearing on three of the American Sunday morning talk shows, former House speaker Newt Gingrich vehemently criticized his foremost contender for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, accusing his rival of saying things that are “factually false” and tearing down “whoever he’s running against.”

Despite a blistering array of negative television advertisements against him, Gingrich said he was still confident of victory in Florida which votes to elect a candidate on Tuesday.

“I think it’s highly likely that we’re going to win Florida,” he told CBS News’ Face the Nation, “because I think when people understand how many different times [Romney] said things that aren’t true, his credibility is going to just frankly just collapse.”

Polls have been extremely volatile in the Sunshine State over the past couple of weeks. Gingrich enjoyed a solid lead over Romney after his South Carolina win last week but the Romney campaign’s attacks appear to have an effect. Gingrich admitted as much on ABC News’ This Week where he pointed out that it was only in the areas where “Romney carpet bombs with Wall Street money” to run television commercials against him that his popularity eroded.

“The conservatives clearly are rejecting Romney,” he said on the same program. The former Massachusetts governor may take all of Florida’s fifty delegates next week but many of the caucuses and primaries that are next in line elect delegates on a proportional basis, raising the possibility of neither candidate securing a majority before the nominating convention in August.

“He’s not going to be anywhere near a majority by April,” Gingrich predicted, by which point 32 states will have caucused or voted in a primary. “This is going to go on all the way to the convention.”

Gingrich has characterized Romney as a “timid Massachusetts moderate” and called him a “liberal” this weekend. As a northeastern governor, Romney enacted a health-care reform measure that was very similar to the Democrats’ 2010 reform effort. he also changed his views on abortion.

Establishment conservatives have questioned Gingrich’s own conservative credentials however, pointing out that Gingrich, too, supported an individual mandate in health care before conservatives were against it. As recently as last summer, he rejected plans to privatize federal health support for retirees as “right-wing social engineering.”

On This Week, Gingrich tried to convince voters that at least he was more conservative than Romney.

My hope is that gradually conservatives will come together and decide that a Newt Gingrich conservatism is dramatically better than Mitt Romney’s liberalism.

On Fox News Sunday, he reached out to likely Rick Santorum voters. “Romney beats me as long as we split the conservative vote,” he said. If the former Pennsylvania senator, who would gather 12 to 15 percent of the vote in Florida, drop outs, Gingrich hopes to stage another victory in the South.

Santorum has shown no intention of leaving the race. Instead, on ABC News last week, he described Gingrich as an “erratic conservative” and a “very high risk candidate” who could dash Republican hopes of winning back the White House.

NBC News’ political director Chuck Todd wondered on Meet the Press whether Gingrich indeed stood to gain from a Santorum exit. “They’ve made Gingrich so unelectable to some conservatives,” he said about the Romney team, “that if you get rid of the Santorum vote and factor in the second choice” in an NBC/Marist poll that was released on Sunday, “Romney’s lead actually grows by a point. So this idea that somehow conservatives are splitting the vote — not anymore.”