Look Who’s Back

I happened to come across the movie “Look Who’s Back” on Netflix the other day. Over the course of a few days I watched it, in little snatches, not because I did not have enough time for a single sitting but because I found it hard to take for more than a few minutes.

Here is a Wikipedia article on the movie, which is based on a best-selling book “Er Ist Wieder Da” that appeared in Germany in 2014.

The premise of the story is that Hitler wakes up suddenly at the site of the bunker where he committed suicide in 1945, now a quiet residential neighborhood. A TV reporter doing a program on kids captures video of Hitler at a distance and later, after closely examining his video, goes back in search of the man. We have no idea how, but Hitler has come back some 70 years later, not having aged, but having missed everything in between. He brings himself up to date hanging out in a newspaper kiosk for a few days. The TV reporter finds him there and takes him on a tour to make a documentary. The film proceeds much like a documentary. Some people think he is a comedian or street performer and want to take selfies with Hitler, a few are outraged. But the documentary is a big hit and Hitler becomes a TV star on a show called “Whoa Dude”. But I don’t want to spoil it for you. Watch the movie or read the book – it is available in English. See if you don’t recognize the style.

Odds on Hillary

We were having lunch with friends and I mentioned that these days we have to be careful. We have both friends and family who are for Bernie. Well, as I learned, these friends were also for Bernie. One of them pointed out that in New York Bernie got 100 delegates. Ah yes, it is proportional, true enough. We went on to talk of other things.

Still, Hillary got more delegates. What is likely to happen?

To figure out the polls, I usually go to http://www.fivethirtyeight.com. Nate Silver and colleagues are usually right about the likelihood of victory in upcoming primaries. The data for the primaries are easily accessible on the website. I checked, and Hillary is a heavy favorite in all those where they have made an estimate. In each of those she has better than an 87% chance of victory. There are not enough data on New Jersey yet, but Hillary is still ahead of Sanders there, by several percentage points. So it is really unlikely that Sanders will be gaining more delegates than Hillary in the remaining primaries. Since there are no other candidates, she will likely be the winner.

Still, Nate Silver is not giving out estimates of the probability of anyone getting the nomination of their party right now. For that, you have to look at the wagering odds, which are a little hard to translate into probabilities. Right now, according to one of these sites, you would have to bet $2500 on Hillary to win $100 from a well informed bookie. In other words he will not give you favorable odds, because he thinks Hillary is very likely to win. As for the even more remote general election, you still would have to bet $200 now to win $100 after Hillary wins the election. If you bet $100 on Trump now, you would win $175 from the bookie if Trump wins. You have to pay the bookie way more money to get him to bet against Hillary than Trump. Betting odds are not readily translated into mathematical probabilities because they are arranged so the bookie makes money no matter how the bets go. Still, the message this sends is that Hillary is going to win the election.

Of course none of this has anything to do with arguments about policy or ideology. It is the science of public opinion.

The New York Primary

Hillary is the winner in the New York primary on the Democratic side. With a double-digit spread, it looks like tremendous victory for her.

On the other hand Donald Trump has an even bigger victory on the Republican side.

The speech he gave was a vapid, 10 minute “thanks” with no substance; Hillary’s on the other hand was a general election campaign speech with specific policies and vignettes, including a touching one about the daughter of the Sandy Hook school principal who died defending her students.

If, as seems almost certain, she is the nominee, Hillary would clean Trump’s clock again and again. The Republicans’ only hope is to prevent his nomination. It is looking as if they cannot do so.



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