You Decide 2016: Candidate Breakdown

By Elijah Wagers
Shield Staff


As November slowly marches closer, the contest for the White House becomes difficult for voters to understand. The Democrats and the Republicans have numerous candidates that are vying for their party’s nomination.

Because so many candidates exist, voters may have a hard time understanding what each candidate really wants to do when he or she gets into the White House.

 Here is a party-line breakdown of the top four candidates coming out of the Iowa caucuses, and his or her positions on some of the nation’s most important issues.

The Democratic Party

Hillary Clinton

Since 1993 when her husband Bill Clinton was first elected president, Hillary Clinton has served the United States in a variety of positions: first lady, U.S. senator from New York (2001-2009) and as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.

Clinton has a notably more aggressive foreign policy stance than Obama in Syria, suggesting that some ground troops may be needed there. She recently has taken to ardently supporting Obama’s legacy, and is pro-choice. She believes that illegal immigrants should be given a path to citizenship status. She also is supportive of keeping the Affordable Care Act, making insurance available to all Americans.


Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is making waves all over the Internet, and 41 percent of millennials plan on voting for him. He is a self-proclaimed, independent Democratic socialist senator from Vermont, and has been in the U.S. Senate since 2006. Before that, Sanders was mayor of Burlington, Vermont, from 1981 to 1989. He spent those years as Burlington mayor fighting for citizens, and voters elected him by an increasingly wider margin with every election that he has won.

Sanders desires to have free college tuition available to all -- Wall Street financial transactions, his campaign says, will pay for the plan’s cost -- and paid maternity leave. Though his positions are more to the left than most Democrats, Sanders leans more pro-gun than many in his party.

Shortly before the last Democratic debate, Sanders’ campaign unveiled its “Medicare for All” plan, which would require all American families making more than $28,000 per year to pay a 2.2 percent additional income tax.  

Also, Sanders hopes to continue with President Barack Obama’s deal with Iran, and Sanders believes that an international coalition should be used to defeat ISIS. He was widely expected not to be able to pose a challenge to Hillary Clinton, but he finished in a virtual dead heat with her in Iowa.


The Republican Party

Donald Trump

Known as “The Donald” throughout his career as host of “The Apprentice,” the real estate entrepreneur and current frontrunner of the Republican Party is polling at 38.3 percent, according to The Hill, though he has begun to slip in recent polls, losing as much as 7 percent of voters last month. He finished second to Sen. Ted Cruz in Iowa.

Trump, a New York native, touts that he will “Make America Great Again,”  and that he will stand up to China and ISIS in foreign policy.

 The Key to Trump’s main support base comes in the form of older Americans. Of those polled in September, 79 percent are 45 or older. These older Americans, according to Real Clear Politics, earn average incomes of $50,000 a year. Surprisingly, the fact that Trump has made some confusing and hurtful sexist gaffes over the past few months does nothing to deter roughly more than 50 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning women from supporting him.

What makes him so attractive to many Republican voters is that he says what he wants; no media outlet can seem to stop him. Since people have a growing problem with excessively political correct speech, he is an individual who appears to have the ability to get things done. Conservatives appreciate the appearance of strength, so his dynamic personality appeals broadly to them.

Importantly, his tax policies, as well as his immigration ideas, are simmering notions for those interested on both sides of the aisle. Concerning his immigration policy, Trump suggests that he would deport all illegal immigrants, and that he would force Mexico to build a wall around the shared borders. The main question critics and pundits have concerning Trump is his lack of specifics when it comes to detailed policies.        


Ted Cruz

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz pulled an organized upset of Trump in Iowa, propelling him toward the next contest in New Hampshire. As of this writing, he currently has 21 percent of the Republican vote nationally to Trump’s 38 percent, according to RealClearPolitics.

Like many Republicans, Cruz is pro-life and opposes same-sex marriage (but, in this case, he says states can decide how exactly they want to proceed with the issue), and he believes strongly in the free market.

Cruz wants to intervene in Syria and defeat ISIS. Cruz first won fame as the major Republican player in the 2013 government shutdown.