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First W&M and TargetSmart battleground state poll shows Clinton with narrow edge in Ohio

The results of the first survey conducted through William & Mary’s polling partnership with TargetSmart are out today, and they show Hillary Clinton with a three-point lead over Donald Trump among likely voters in Ohio – 40 to 37 percent.

To track voter behavior in key battleground states, William & Mary and TargetSmart developed a unique approach for determining a “likely voter” model using predictive models housed on TargetSmart’s voter file.

“Having the ability to use TargetSmart’s turnout score to weight the data takes much of the guesswork out of determining a likely voter model,” said Ron Rapoport, John Marshall Professor of Government and member of the partnership research team, in a press release.

Survey data was weighted to reflect all registered voters on the TargetSmart voter file, and then put through a second round of weights “based solely on respondents’ likelihood to vote, as measured by TargetSmart’s General Election Turnout score,” a press release announcing the results noted.

According to that release, key findings included a significant gender gap. The poll data shows Clinton leading by 16 points among women (47 to 31 percent) in Ohio but also trailing Trump by 12 points among men (32 to 44 percent). If education is combined with gender, the gap widens, the data also shows. Clinton leads Trump by 21 points among college-educated women but trails Trump by 15 points among men without a college degree.

Three W&M government professors are working with TargetSmart as part of the university’s first polling partnership: Rapoport; Jaime Settle, assistant professor of government; and Dan Maliniak, assistant professor of government.

Maliniak noted that the new “likely voter” model used by the team sets the data apart.

"The differences we see in a lot of the polling going on right now are due in part to the various likely-voter models each pollster is using,” he said. “I think past voting behavior is probably a better predictor, so our ability to utilize TargetSmart's link between poll respondents and their voting behavior gives us a lot of confidence in our model."

More about the poll may be found on the TargetSmart website.

Additional polls are planned in other battleground states ahead of the November presidential election.

For more on the partnership, read this W&M News story from Sept. 19.