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TargetSmart/William & Mary survey featured on MSNBC

  • Early voters
    Early voters  in Florida polled through a TargetSmart/William & Mary survey in late October revealed that among the registered Republicans in that group 28 percent had voted for Hillary Clinton.  
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Survey is third in a series through a public polling partnership between TargetSmart and William & Mary

Since September, William & Mary has been partnering on a series of voter surveys in battleground states with TargetSmart. The latest survey results, on early voters and expected voters in Florida, were featured last night on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell." Those results show Hillary Clinton with a lead over Donald Trump in Florida, 48 to 40 percent overall.

“[Our survey] is significantly more accurate than exit polls,” TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier told MSNBC Tuesday night. “We all TargetSmart logoremember in 2000 when the exit polls got it wrong. In this case, because we know exactly the distribution by age, gender and party, we can construct a sample that is perfectly representative of the people who have voted thus far.”

Analysts are predicting Florida, which has 29 Electoral College votes, will be a key state for both Clinton and Trump in Tuesday’s presidential election. This survey shows the first data on Florida’s early voters.

TargetSmart’s proprietary voter file data showed that as of early Nov. 1 more than 3.6 million Floridians had already cast their votes. Among these early voters, the survey results suggest 28 percent of registered Republicans in Florida who have already cast a vote, voted for Hillary Clinton.

The overall numbers show Clinton holds a 17-point margin, leading Trump 55 to 38 percent among early voters. Among those respondents who had not yet voted, 42 percent indicated they would vote for Clinton and 43 percent for Trump.

“Using survey data to predict whether people will vote is even more difficult than using it to predict how they will vote.  Voters become more or less enthusiastic and more or less likely to respond to surveys based on the most recent news, which might be different the next day,” said Ron Rapoport, John Marshall Professor of Government and member of the partnership research team. “Utilizing TargetSmart's access to actual voter turnout records in real time, gives us far better information on actual voters and allows for better prediction of state results.”

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.

The poll was conducted using both a web and phone data collection approach. The web data was collected from Oct. 25 – 28 and the phone data collected Oct. 27 – 30. The full survey results are available online.

The public polling partnership between TargetSmart and William & Mary was announced in September. Two earlier polls were fielded in Ohio just prior to the first and second presidential debates. A fourth and final survey for this election is planned before the Nov. 8 contest.

TargetSmart, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a provider of political data – typically to campaigns. The company has more than 25 years of experience in data management and solutions.

More information on the survey’s methodology is available on Scribd.