Billionaire Mathematician James Simons Flopped the First Time He Invested

James Simons is an investing legend. He founded a wildly successful hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies LLC, that employs Ph.D. mathematicians to detect subtle predictive patterns in market data. He’s accumulated a net worth of almost $16 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

In a talk on Oct. 26, Simons revealed that he hasn’t always been so smart about investing. He said he opened his first account, with Merrill Lynch & Co., when he was in his early 20s and needed a place to put about $5,000 in wedding gifts. He bought a few stocks, but they didn’t move, so he asked his broker for something more “exciting.” The broker recommended soybean futures, and luckily enough they went up in price, Simons said in an onstage interview at the IESE Business School in midtown Manhattan.

That’s when Simons made his first mistake as an investor. A colleague told Simons he should sell the soybean futures to lock in the gains but he ignored the advice. The price went right back down. 

Simons, who was working toward a doctorate in mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley at the time, kept trying to make money on soybeans but eventually realized that uninformed speculation was not going to get him anywhere. “I’m either going to trade soybeans or write my thesis,” he recalled saying to himself. He earned his doctorate at age 23.

Pivoting to the Ph.D. was a good choice, because math later became the secret sauce of Renaissance Technologies, which is based in the Long Island village of East Setauket, N.Y., and has more than $50 billion under management. In between, Simons taught at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, worked as a codebreaker in Princeton, N.J., and built a highly ranked mathematics department at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Simons doesn’t give a lot of interviews, so there was strong interest in his breakfast talk at the New York City campus of IESE Business School, a branch of the University of Navarra in Spain. His interlocutor was Bill Baker, an IESE professor who is past president of WNET-Thirteen, New York’s public television station. Here are some of the highlights:


Renaissance’s mathematicians and scientists sift through terabytes of data daily looking for anomalies—movements in prices that, if they persist, could become money-makers. The signals are faint. If they weren’t, someone would have found them already. To make money, Simons said, “You have to put together a lot of signals and just keep working at it, working at it.” Other firms took note of Renaissance’s success. At times, he said, “It felt like we were running in front of a pack of wolves that were trying to catch up and devour us.”


Robert Mercer, a co-chief executive officer of Renaissance, helped get Trump elected president and is a financial backer of Breitbart News, the right-wing website led by former presidential counselor Steve Bannon. Simons made no mention of Mercer but was clear that he’s no Trump supporter. “We’ve never had a president remotely like our current president,” Simons said. “We’ve had some doozies but never like that caliber.” Simons says he believes the U.S. is resilient and will bounce back from a Trump administration without lasting damage “if we can just get through these four years without an atomic bomb dropped.”


Simons, flouting the convention that mathematicians are antisocial, said one of his favorite tasks at Stony Brook and Renaissance was recruitment. His philosophy: “Hire the greatest people you can and then give them a lot of authority.”


The New York City-based Simons Foundation will give away about $400 million this year. It gives grants for basic research in math, physics, biology, the origins of life, and autism. The Flatiron Institute, founded last year in Manhattan, does in-house research in the hard sciences using computers—computational biology, etc. It’s helping build a complex of telescopes at high altitude in Chile’s Atacama Desert to search for primordial gravitational waves—a clue to how the universe was born in the Big Bang. When hedge fund founders talk about inflation, they generally mean rising prices. Simons is as likely to be referring to the theory that the universe expanded rapidly in the first tiny fraction of a second of its existence. Said Simons: “I’m not a fan of inflation.”


The Simons Foundation also funds Math for America, which seeks to improve science, technology, engineering, and math education in secondary schools. Simons said he was originally impressed by the idea of rewarding teachers based on the performance of their students on standardized tests until he realized that the scores were a poor indicator of teachers’ ability. The correlation of a teacher’s performance by that measure from one year to the next is almost random, he said. He also doesn’t like the project of PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel to pay people who drop out of college to start companies. “I think it’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.”


Simons didn’t say anything about his socks. He wasn’t wearing any, as is his custom. And not because he can’t afford them.


    Peter Coy
    Bloomberg Businessweek Columnist

    Peter Coy is the economics editor for Bloomberg Businessweek and covers a wide range of economic issues. He also holds the position of senior writer. Coy joined the magazine in December 1989 as telecommunications editor, then became technology editor in October 1992 and held that position until joining the economics staff. He came to BusinessWeek from the Associated Press in New York, where he had served as a business news writer since 1985.

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    Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer: ‘A love affair that just kept on and on and on’

    The 84-year-old widow behind the landmark supreme court decision on gay rights fought $363,000 estate tax and won

    Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer were together for 40 years before they married in 2007. When Spyer died in 2009 Windsor, in the midst of her grief, was ordered to pay $363,000 in estate taxes as the federal government did not recognise the pair’s marriage.

    Windsor appealed, and won. The supreme court agreed to hear her challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, or Doma, in December, a decision Windsor told the Guardian had left her “delirious with joy“.

    “I think Doma is wrong for all of the various ways in which it discriminates against same-sex married couples and against gays all together,” Windsor said. “It’s enormously satisfying and fulfilling and exciting to be where we are now.”

    Spyer, she said, would have been proud of her achievement. “I think she’d be so proud and happy and just so pleased at how far we have come. It’s a culmination of an engagement that happened between us in 1967 when we didn’t dream that we’d be able to marry.”

    Windsor, now a snappily dressed 83-year-old who is rarely seen without a long string of pearls around her neck, seems to have easily slotted into her position as the public face of marriage equality. But it is a role which must have seemed hard to imagine when in her early 20s, the then Edith Schlain married Saul Windsor, a friend of her brother’s. The two separated in 1952 after less than a year.

    “I told him the truth,” Windsor recalled in an interview with NPR this year. “I said: ‘Honey, you deserve a lot more. You deserve somebody who thinks you’re the best because you are. And I need something else.'”

    Windsor was born in Philadelphia in 1929, in the midst of the Depression. Her parents lost their home and business not long after her birth. In interviews she has recalled identifying with the leading men in the movies she went to watch while growing up, not the woman he was attempting to woo. Despite those feelings, she said she had no awareness of what life as a lesbian could be like.

    “I could not imagine a life that way,” she told Buzzfeed. “I wanted to be like everybody else. You marry a man who supports you it never occurred to me I’d have to earn a living, and nor did I study to earn a living.”

    ‘Something like three weeks before Thea died she said: “Jesus we’re still in love, aren’t we”?’ Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

    The divorce meant Windsor now had to do just that. She retained her name from the marriage but changed her life by moving to New York and concentrating on her career. Windsor worked as a secretary while studying at New York University. When she graduated with a master’s degree in mathematics she took a job at IBM.

    Windsor said she would feel envious when she saw other women out together, but still found it hard to be openly gay in pre-Stonewall New York City. Finally, however, she decided she had had enough.

    “About 1962, I suddenly couldn’t take it any more,” she recalled in Edie & Thea: A very long engagement, a 2009 film made about her and Spyer’s life and wedding.

    “And I called an old friend of mine, a very good friend and I said if you know where the lesbians go please take me. Somebody brought Thea over and introduced her and we just started dancing.”

    That was in Portofino, a restaurant in Greenwich Village. The pair kept dancing until, as Windsor tells it, she got a hole in her stocking. They would go to parties, dancing all the while, for two years until they started dating. Spyer proposed in 1967, with a brooch rather than a ring Windsor did not want to face questions from co-workers about the assumed husband-to-be.

    “It was a love affair that just kept on and on and on,” Windsor said. “It really was. Something like three weeks before Thea died she said: ‘Jesus we’re still in love, aren’t we’.”

    The couple moved into an apartment near Washington Square in Manhattan, where Windsor still lives, and bought a house together in Southampton, Long Island. Windsor rose to the highest technical position within IBM, and Spyer saw patients in their apartment. In the years following the Stonewall riots they both marched and demonstrated for equal rights.

    In 1977, aged 45, Spyer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. They could still dance, Windsor told Buzzfeed, with Spyer ditching her crutches at the dance floor and leading with her good leg.

    As Spyer’s health deteriorated, Windsor eventually became her full-time care giver. Getting ready for bed could take an hour, preparing to leave the house in the morning three or four, she said in an interview with the NYU alumni magazine.

    In 2007, Spyer’s doctors told her she had one year left to live.

    “Having gotten the bad prognosis she woke up the next morning and said: ‘Do you still want to get married?’,” Windsor said. “And I said ‘Yes’. And she said: ‘So do I’.”

    The pair flew to Canada that year with six friends and were married in Toronto. Windsor wore white, Thea was in all black. The ceremony was officiated by Canada’s first openly gay judge, justice Harvey Brownstone.

    “Many people ask me why get married,” Windsor said in remarks on the steps of the supreme court in March, the day the court heard arguments in her case against Doma.

    “I was 77, Thea was 75, and maybe we were older than that at that point, but the fact is that everybody treated it as different. It turns out marriage is different.

    “I’ve asked a number of long-range couples, gay couples who they’ve got married, I’ve asked them: ‘Was it different the next morning and the answer is always: ‘Yes’.’ It’s a huge difference.”

    Less than two years after they were married, Spyer died. A month after that, Windsor had a heart attack.

    “In the midst of my grief I realised that the federal government was treating us as strangers, and it meant paying a humongous estate tax. And it meant selling a lot of stuff to do it and it wasn’t easy. I live on a fixed income and it wasn’t easy,” she said.

    Two lower courts had already ruled that it was unconstitutional for Windsor to have to pay the $363,000 in federal estate taxes. Attorneys representing Windsor argued in the supreme court that Doma violates the constitution in not recognising her marriage to Spyer.

    When the Guardian spoke to Windsor back in December, the day the the court agreed to hear her case, the joy in her voice was clear. She felt optimistic, too.

    “I really believe in the supreme court. First of all, I’m the youngest in my family and justice matters a lot the littlest one gets pushed around a lot. And I trust the supreme court, I trust the constitution so I feel a certain confidence that we’ll win.”

    It turns out she was right.

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    Anti-Trump ‘alternative inauguration’ to toast president-elect’s popular vote loss

    In conservative upstate New York an alternative inauguration party will hail the fact that 3 million more people voted for Clinton as defiance spreads nationwide

    On the evening of 20 January, just a few hours after the former host of Celebrity Apprentice has taken the oath of office to become the 45th president of the United States, about 80 people in the tiny snowbound town of Saranac Lake in heavily conservative upstate New York will gather for an inauguration party.

    The event is being billed as a celebration, a chance to rejoice in the electoral victory that saw their political ideals prevail. Food and drink will flow freely, musicians from across the area will perform. The Stars and Stripes will be flown to denote the deep patriotism of the event. And then at the height of the night the carousers will participate in a rendition of Leonard Cohens Hallelujah, with lyrics specially rewritten for the occasion.

    Trump said hed make us great again

    But we dont even trust the man

    He lies and cheats and tries to foster anger

    As the lyrics suggest, the party will not be honoring the electoral victory of the newly enshrined President Trump. On the contrary, Saranac Lakes Alternative Inauguration Party will mark the defeat of Donald Trumps brand of anti-establishment xenophobic nationalism.

    A celebration of Trumps defeat on the day of his inauguration seems several stages beyond fanciful. The real estate billionaire did after all pull off one of the biggest electoral surprises of modern times.

    Yet the progressive inhabitants of Saranac Lake are not alone in such thinking. Across the country, a growing chorus of influential voices can be heard exhorting liberals not to wallow in despondency in the wake of the Trump ascendancy, but to embrace optimism and celebrate a victory of their own.

    From national leaders such as Bernie Sanders and the Rev Al Sharpton, to state authorities on both coasts, through urban bastions and university towns scattered across the heartlands, a unifying message is emerging. Do not despair, it says, we won!

    The counterintuitive idea of liberal victory in the 2016 presidential race is posited on Hillary Clintons startling triumph in the popular vote. With the final tally of votes now certified by all 50 states, the definitive result of the presidential election carries quite a punch.

    Clinton attracted the support of 65,844,610 Americans. Trump was backed by 62,979,636. Which means that fully 2.9 million more Americans voted for Trumps Democratic opponent than for him.

    Whether those millions voted because they liked Clintons vision for the country, or because they detested Trumps, is impossible to say. But it is fair to say that Trump failed to persuade a majority of voting Americans to back him on his unlikely journey to the White House.

    National political leaders have begun, like the folk of Saranac Lake, to draw strength for the no-doubt brutal fight ahead by focusing on the popular vote as a measure of the depth of support for progressive values that persist in the US today. Bernie Sanders, who played no small part in boosting Clintons numbers by inspiring young people to rally to the liberal cause, told the Guardian that in his view the president-elect had to take on board the truth of his defeat in terms of national votes and act accordingly.

    Mr Trump has got to understand that he does not have a mandate. He lost by almost 3 million votes.

    Sanders went on to say that the knowledge that most voting Americans backed progressive policies on 8 November should embolden people as the new Trump era begins. If we stand together, we can effectively take on Mr Trumps ugly ideas and continue the fight for a progressive vision for this country. On virtually every major issue facing this country whether its raising the minimum wage, pay equity for women, rebuilding our infrastructure, making public colleges and universities tuition-free, criminal justice and immigration reform, dealing with income and wealth inequality the strong majority of the American people are on our side.

    The Rev Al Sharpton speaks during the National Action Networks We Shall Not Be Moved march in Washington DC on 14 January. Photograph: Aaron P Bernstein/Reuters

    For civil rights activist Al Sharpton, the issue of the popular vote is especially poignant and personal. On 20 January 2001, as George Bush was being inaugurated at the Capitol building having lost the popular vote to Al Gore, Sharpton staged a shadow inauguration in DCs nearby Stanton Park as a protest against what he saw as the stealing of the election.

    Last Saturday Sharpton echoed that event by leading a We Shall Not Be Moved march from the Washington Monument to the Martin Luther King Memorial. Again, Sharpton is exercised by the popular vote. As he explained to the Guardian: Numbers do not lie. Most American voters, by almost three million, supported our policies and program our values were not rejected.

    Sharpton predicts that the 2016 presidential election will go down in infamy because of the scale of Clintons margin of victory in sheer votes as well as evidence of Russian hacking and other peculiarities. He said the popular vote result should comfort progressive Americans, but more importantly it should energize people to do something about this misdeed. Rather than say we were robbed and then sit around and have a pity-party, we should be getting even.

    The We Shall Not Be Moved march will be followed a week later by the climax of the alternative-inauguration wave of 2016: the Womens March on Washington. Hundreds of thousands of people of both genders are expected to descend on Washington or attend some 200 sister marches to be held across the US and around the world.

    Linda Sarsour, one of four co-chairs of the march, said that she saw in the popular vote results the dominance of progressive values in the US. We intend to let the president-elect know on his first day in office that we are strong, we are united and we will protect those most vulnerable to attack.

    Sarsour also said that she wanted to see more attention paid to the millions of Americans who cast no ballot on 8 November. We are focused on the silent majority, those who sat at home and did not vote at all. We want to understand why they were inactive, so that we can provide the spark that will inspire them to be involved.

    Lawrence Lessig: The Republicans are so good at the chutzpah of their claim to power. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

    Will President Trump hear all these messages as he takes his seat in the Oval Office? Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard law professor who made a brief bid in 2016 for the Democratic presidential nomination, predicts that Trump will ignore calls for him to show electoral humility, just as Bush did in 2001.

    The Republicans are so good at the chutzpah of their claim to power minority presidents acting as though they are dominant in the world. We have to develop a way of tamping down their arrogance these are minority presidents who do not represent most Americans.

    The idea that Trumps contentious rhetoric from immigration and trade to climate change represents a minority view was what drove Saranac Lake to throw an alternative inauguration party. The town of just 5,500 residents is situated in the middle of the highly conservative rural north country of upstate New York, close to the Canadian border, but it is a liberal oasis, a tiny dot of blue bobbing on a sea of red.

    On the morning of 10 November, two days after the election when the entire country was still reeling from the shock of election night, four local friends happened to bump into one another in a shop on Main Street owned by one of them, Barbara Curtis.

    The four were all Sanders supporters who had transferred their allegiance to Clinton in the general election, mainly in the hope of blocking Trump. That morning they were each filled with disbelief and despair that a man whom they consider to be a racist and misogynist had been anointed head of state.

    We were in a miserable mood, said one of the four, the director of the local library, Pete Benson. But then we had the idea.

    The idea began by asking a question: what do we do now? The four decided to set up a new group to generate discussion around that conundrum. They called it Now what?.

    As the days passed, and Clintons lead in the popular vote began to grow as late results were counted, they began to see a way forward. It made us think we could be optimistic, said another of the gang of four, Emily Martz, an environmental development worker. The majority of Americans did not vote for the hatred and tolerance of Trump. The values that we believe in, of inclusion and justice for all, freedom of the press and religion and assembly, had in fact prevailed.

    Saranac Lake is a liberal oasis in the midst of conservative upstate New York. Photograph: Rob Fountain/AP

    Out of that sense of hope the Alternative Inauguration Party was born. It was such a simple idea, but it gave us hope the feeling that we were not alone, said the fourth founding member, Emily Warner.

    So just how much of a thumping did Trump take in terms of the popular vote? And why should we care anyway? Under the arcane rules laid down by the Founding Fathers for the selection of the nations head of state, its essentially irrelevant who wins the most votes nationally. Presidents are chosen not directly by the American people, but indirectly through the electoral college that is put together on a state-by-state basis.

    Famously, it takes a presidential hopeful 270 electoral college votes out of the total of 538 to win the keys of the White House, and on that official count Trump won handsomely. When the chips were down, according to the centuries-old rules of the game, he soundly defeated Clinton by 306 electoral college votes to 232.

    So yes, Trump won, and no amount of brouhaha over recounts and faithless electors and talk of Russian hackers will change that now. But there is another way of looking at the results, one that resonates with the vocabulary of modern democracies in which we the people are supposed to call the shots.

    What we think of as democratic legitimacy these days is winning popular support, said John Woolley, professor of political science at UC Santa Barbara. Theres an equation in most peoples minds that in a modern democracy winning means getting more votes than anyone else.

    The Now What? group in Saranac Lake like to quote the figure that 72% of Americans of eligible voting age did not vote for Trump a statistic achieved by combining Clintons votes to the almost 8 million ballots cast for third-party candidates and then rolling in the hordes of those who did not vote at all. Other estimates put that figure even higher, at 75%.

    The 72% figure should be handled with great caution, as there is no way of knowing what the no-voters would have done had they got themselves to the polling stations. But you dont need to stretch the boundaries of electoral mathematics to know that what happened on 8 November 2016 was historically significant.

    Though America is well accustomed to backing presidents who failed to win more than half of the votes cast, winning on the plurality Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and Bill Clinton in 1992 all falling into that camp it is very rare for presidents to be elected having garnered fewer votes nationwide than their opponent.

    Only five presidents in US history have been put into the White House having suffered such ignominy: John Quincy Adams (1824), Rutherford Hayes (1876), Benjamin Harrison (1888), George W Bush (2000) and now Donald Trump.

    Even among that handful of popular vote losers, Trump stands out. Woolley has produced a graph comparing the popular and electoral college vote percentages for all presidential elections since 1824. It shows Trump failing in terms of democratic legitimacy more conclusively than in any other presidential election than that of Adams.

    us election popular vote

    Thats not a flattering comparison from Trumps perspective. Adams was accused in 1824 of in effect bribing his way into the White House by forging a corrupt bargain with another candidate to whom he then gave a plum administration job.

    The extent of Trumps defeat is underlined by the 2000 election with its legendary hanging chads. Progressives are still agitated 16 years later by what they denounce as the stolen election, yet in that case Al Gore won the popular vote by only half a million more votes than Bush compared with the margin of almost 3 million enjoyed by Hillary Clinton.

    In Woolleys analysis, the size of Trumps popular vote defeat is remarkable. Its a pretty big fact. Because it resonates so deeply with liberals and Democrats and is such a source of anger, Donald Trump is going to be embattled. There is going to be resistance at every turn, and this just fuels the fire.

    That might help explain why Trump has been so touchy on the subject. In his eagerness to minimize the significance of the issue he has turned to fake news stories about illegal voting in 2016 touted by the conspiracy theory site, Infowars.

    Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

    In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally

    November 27, 2016

    The resistance that Woolley predicts can already be seen sprouting across the country. Theres the visible manifestation of it in set-piece marches such as the Womens March and Sharptons We Shall Not Be Moved; there is the spawning of a myriad of social media-facilitated groups like the aptly named Resistance Party; and there is the rapidly developing notion of communities ranging from towns to cities to entire states erecting firewalls around themselves to protect their people, undocumented immigrants included, against any Trump assault.

    Here too the advocates of the concept of sanctuary status are drawing sustenance from the popular vote victory. Progressives have been demoralized by the outcome of the election, but keep in mind we won the popular vote, winning the message with Americans, said Ed Murray, the mayor of one of the leading sanctuary cities, Seattle.

    Nowhere is the power of the popular vote combined with the concept of sanctuary more evident than in California, a state that Clinton won by a whopping 4.3 million votes, with 61.6% to Trumps 32.8%. Californias secretary of state, Alex Padilla, told the Guardian that he respected the electoral college process and the outcome of the 2016 race, but added: That being said, the result was politically misleading in terms of giving any mandate to the president-elect.

    He said that California was more committed than ever to the progressive direction, extending access to quality healthcare, accepting the science of climate change and acting to combat it, and immigration. No state has more at stake when it comes to immigration than us; our economy is dependent on it.

    Three thousand miles away on the east coast, New York state is also pursuing the sanctuary concept, Clinton having won there by 1.7 million votes, 58.8% to Trumps 37.5%. But it doesnt feel a strong Democratic state if you are located up in Saranac Lake, surrounded by rural Trump supporters, and they have had to deal with their fair share of local antagonism.

    The four organizers of the Alternative Inauguration Party have been lambasted as seditious by trolls on their Facebook page. They found it hard securing a venue for the party, as commercial property owners largely didnt want to know.

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    Sanders’ New York buzz may not deliver enough votes as polls still favor Clinton

    Despite Bernie Sanders visibly enthusiastic support before the pivotal primary, Clintons campaign seems confident that Tuesday will be a night to celebrate

    A New York spring is in the air in the parks and streets of the Big Apple as Bernie Sanders rallies tens of thousands of adoring supporters with a message of political revolution he hopes could still block Hillary Clintons seemingly unstoppable path to the Democratic presidential nomination.

    But in the television studios and political salons, the focus is on the harsh reality of polling numbers and electoral mathematics ahead of Tuesdays crucial primary election showdown between the two increasingly bitter rivals.

    Although some polls suggest Clintons once commanding lead may have shrunk in recent weeks, she remains an average of 13 points ahead, and few professional observers expect the former secretary state who represented New York for eight years in the US Senate and even beat Barack Obama in the 2008 New York primary will do anything other than win here again.

    While Sanders plans to be off in Pennsylvania for more packed rallies before the next series of primaries on 26 April, Clinton is due to return to New York on Tuesday night for what she fully expects will be a victory party at the Sheraton hotel in Times Square.

    And with Donald Trump even more comfortably ahead of rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich in polling for New Yorks simultaneous Republican primary, a leading pro-Clinton fundraising committee has even begun reserving airtime for TV commercials ahead of what it considers to be the more important general election contest it sees looming in November.

    Clintons increasingly confident aides were in combative mood before what could be the last significant contest of the Democratic primary, describing New York as must-win for Sanders who had a lot on the line.

    If Sanders loses NYC to Clinton, will he say it is because it is in the southern part of New York state? taunted her spokesman, Brian Fallon, in response to suggestions that early wins in conservative-leaning states in the deep south had made Clintons national delegate lead look more unassailable than it really was.

    The Sanders campaign, in contrast, is dialing back predictions of a win but remains buoyed instead by the undeniable enthusiasm among its supporters in the Empire state.

    We dont have to win New York on Tuesday, but we have to pick up a lot of delegates, wrote his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, in an email on Sunday that flagged an outlier poll suggesting he and Clinton could be within six points of each other. This poll shows that if we keep fighting, we may actually have a chance to do both. Itd be the most shocking upset in modern political history, he added.

    But even by the Sanders campaigns own, more optimistic, estimates, it remains 214 pledged delegates behind Clinton in the race to reach the finishing line of 2,383, and further behind still if the calculation includes controversial superdelegates party elites who overwhelming favour Clinton. To overturn this delegate momentum, Sanders needs to win heavily, not just in New York but in most of the remaining contests.

    Explaining the disconnect between the Bernie buzz and Clinton confidence has driven some political pundits to distraction. Harry Enten, a columnist with the data-driven website, once promised to pour a bucket of cold water over his head if Clinton fell behind in national polling, a pledge that could yet prove rash as the two close within a percentage point across the country.

    The pundits argue instead that the 2016 primary is more than halfway through and the polling that really matters shows Clinton winning in all the states that look most similar to the demographic profile of Democrats nationwide.

    But the buzz is infectious too. While Clinton drew a few hundred supporters to her rally in Staten Island on Sunday, Sanders drew a record 28,300 supporters to Prospect Park in Brooklyn on Sunday, where messages such as free college tuition and universal healthcare remain powerful stimulants.

    I am literally walking away with goose bumps. I feel like I am going to cry, said 36-year-old Long Island makeup artist Jennifer Wright. I am a single mom. I have worked hard my whole life, I have never been on any kind of welfare, I have worked my ass off my whole life and I want to make sure my son has a fair chance at university. I am here for his generation.

    Clinton supporters may be quieter, but have their own hopes and dreams too and are increasingly frustrated that they are being drowned out in the noise of the Sanders revolution.

    Maxine Outerbridge, a 28-year-old accountant, took such umbrage with the public narrative that young voters are uninspired by Clinton that she wrote a letter to the campaign detailing why she was a supporter. She soon found herself introducing Clinton at the rally on Staten Island, at the historic Great Hall at Snug Harbor, two days before the New York primary.

    Recounting how she became pregnant while still in school, Outerbridge said her daughter would not have access to health insurance had it not been for the State Childrens Health Insurance Program championed by Clinton and signed into law during her husbands administration. She also identified herself as a former victim of domestic violence while praising Clinton as an advocate for women.

    She is a fighter, Outerbridge said. And so as a young woman, as a minority, as a domestic violence survivor, and as an aspiring entrepreneur, I support Hillary.

    • This article was amended on 18 April 2016 to correct the number of years Hillary Clinton served as a US senator. She was in the Senate for eight years, not six.

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