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.

1 thought on “Odds on Hillary”

  1. Today’s estimate has Hillary at -5000 to win the Democratic Nomination. That is you would have to bet $5000 to win $100. She is at -340 to win the election, and Donald Trump is at +280 to win the election. So Trump is a long shot to win the election. We’re talking about real people betting their own money here. To some, this is a good way to anticipate the future. As for me, I am sending a little money to Priorities USA Action, which is supporting Hillary with some good ads.

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