Conventional wisdom says Paul Ryan will damage Mitt Romney in Florida, thanks to his allegedly unpopular views on Medicare and attendant senior distaste.
Well, using RCP, I went back and looked at the five, most recent Florida polls where a breakdown by age was available.
In every poll, Romney did far better with seniors than he did with voters, overall. All of them were taken before the Paul Ryan pick, which means Romney might have threatened his numbers with his biggest supporters.
A. Quinnipiac (July) ALL VOTERS: Obama 51% Romney 45%
Seniors: Romney 56% Obama 41%
B. Survey USA (July) ALL VOTERS: Obama 48% Romney 43%
Seniors: Romney 53% Obama 43%
C. Mason-Dixon (July) ALL VOTERS: Obama 46% Romney 45%
Seniors: Romney 47% Obama 42%
D. Quinnipiac (May) ALL VOTERS: Romney 44% Obama 43%
Seniors: Romney 49% Obama 37%
E. Fox News (April) ALL VOTERS: Obama 45% Romney 43%
Seniors: Romney 52% Obama 40%
OVERALL: There are a few important things to notice here.
Florida's senior vote seems to be more pro-Romney than the national senior vote (I checked national numbers with seniors, and -- based on available data -- this appears to be the case. Obama actually led by 2%, by 5%, and trailed by 2% in three recent polls).
What does that mean?
Well, Romney's big lead with Florida seniors probably reflects the fact that Sunshine State seniors are more conservative than national seniors.
If that's, indeed, the case, there are two possible implications.
1. Their greater conservatism might make them more open to what Paul Ryan is selling, so their relative conservatism would serve as a buffer for Romney. In that situation, he wouldn't get hurt as much.
2. The second possibility is that the buffer is weak, and that Florida seniors' attachment to Romney and the GOP is tenuous and could easily be broken over the Medicare controversy. If that's the case, well, the pick could be as disastrous in the state as advertised.
UPDATE: A reader, Marc Soloweszyk, makes a very good point.
Marco Rubio was supposed to struggle with seniors in his 2010 Senatorial bid, thanks to his bold entitlement reform views, but if you look at the exits, he actually rocked it out with older voters (Of course, it's sometimes perilous to generalize from a midterm to a general).
That, again, points to Florida seniors having a more conservative mindset, which might help buffer Romney on Ryan and Medicare.