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The Takeaway: Senior Support Could Drive Romney Win In Florida; Joe Paterno Dies

GOP Primaries: Well, this is getting weird. Newt Gingrich emerged victorious from South Carolina's primary Saturday, bringing the tally to three primaries and three different Republican winners ( Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, and Rick Santorum in Iowa). More than 60 percent of voters in the S.C. primary were 50 or older, and they largely supported Gingrich. Among voters 65+, 47 percent cast a ballot for the former House Speaker.

The next contest is in Florida, on January 31. The state is home to a lot of older voters. Some folks say this makes the state an easy win for Romney, whom older voters have historically been fond of. But as we saw in South Carolina, Gingrich also holds presidential appeal with both the boomer and the 65+ sets. For now, at least, Romney is polling as much as 30 points ahead of Gingrich among older voters in Florida. Will that be enough to drive a Romney win in the sunshine state?

[For more on the 2012 elections through the lens of older voters, follow AARP politics blogger Sandy Johnson.]

Paterno's Legacy: Famed former football coach  Joe Paterno died Sunday at age 85, just 65 days after being diagnosed with lung cancer. The official cause of death was "metastatic small cell carcinoma of the lung," but according to the Associated Press, "friends and former colleagues believe there were other factors."

Paterno was something of a sainted figure at Penn State (and in college football in general) for almost half a century. Then the Jerry Sandusky molestation scandal erupted. Paterno was faulted for not alerting police that Sandusky, his former assistant, was sexually abusing boys. Though Paterno said he would retire at the end of the season, the university fired him, effective immediately. For someone whose whole life was 'family and football,' it may have been too much.

You can die of heartbreak," said 82-year-old Bobby Bowden, former Florida State coach. "I'm sure Joe had some heartbreak, too."

Friends and colleagues, however, hope Paterno will be remembered for much more than the recent Sandusky scandal. "He will go down as the greatest football coach in the history of the game," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.

Monday Quick Hits:

  • The pros and cons of assigning all U.S. patients a unique health-care identification number.

Photo: Beathan/Corbis

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