18 Presidential candidates: Their stand on issues

Election Day is November 8, 2016

The South Portico of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
The South Portico of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

(GRAPHIQ) — With a little less than a year to go until Election Day, 2016 style, the field of nominee-wannabes continues to get smaller. But with 18 people running for president, it’s still a crowded field. How do you know which person lines up best with your views on the most important issues?

While debates and clips from the campaign trail provide telling insight into each candidate’s policy positions, InsideGov examined data from OnTheIssues to figure out where each person stands on five topics getting the most traction in political circles. The data scores each candidate’s position on a scale of -10 to 10, where -10 indicates a more liberal stance and 10 means a more conservative one. InsideGov focused on guns, healthcare, taxes, immigration and foreign policy.

Candidates are listed in order according to the averaged score on the five issues.

#19. Jill Stein: -10.0

— Gun Ownership: -10
— Obamacare: -10
— Taxes: -10
— Immigration: -10
— Foreign Policy: -10

As the lone Green Party candidate, it’s not surprising that Jill Stein comes in as the most liberal of the current crop of presidential contenders. She advocates for transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy, a $15 per hour federal minimum wage and legalizing marijuana.

#18. Martin O’Malley: -6.8

— Gun Ownership: -10
— Obamacare: -10
— Taxes: 0
— Immigration: -10
— Foreign Policy: -4

During debates and campaign rallies, former Gov. Martin O’Malley has been vocal about his left-leaning street cred, citing his record as mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland. In those capacities O’Malley decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, raised the minimum wage in his state, legalized marriage equality and repealed capital punishment.

#17. Bernie Sanders: -6.8

— Gun Ownership: 0
— Obamacare: -10
— Taxes: -10
— Immigration: -4
— Foreign Policy: -10

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has made income inequality the centerpiece of his presidential campaign this year. He often articulates that taxing the wealthiest people and larger corporations “their fair share” would allow for things like a free college education.

But when it comes to guns, the democratic socialist is more conservative than his fellow Democrats running for the White House. While Sanders voted for the assault weapons ban after the Sandy Hook shooting, he also voted to allow guns on Amtrak trains. He has said that as a senator from a rural state, he understands that many gun owners are law-abiding citizens. “Talking about cultural divides in this country, you know, it is important for people in urban America to understand that families go out together and kids go out together and they hunt and enjoy the outdoors and that is a lifestyle that should not be condemned,” Sanders told an NPR reporter in June 2015.

#16. Hillary Clinton: -5.6

— Gun Ownership: -10
— Obamacare: -10
— Taxes: -10
— Immigration: -4
— Foreign Policy: 6

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has long been known for being a hawk in the Democratic Party. After all, it was her “yes” vote on the Iraq War in 2002 that alienated so many Dems during her first White House run in 2008 and provided an opening to then-Sen. Barack Obama.

But her foreign policy bona fides and perspectives may help her during this presidential campaign. During the second Democratic debate on Nov. 14, she showed a familiarity and comfort level with questions about international politics that neither of her fellow debaters did.

#15. Chris Christie: 0.0

— Gun Ownership: -6
— Obamacare: -6
— Taxes: 10
— Immigration: -4
— Foreign Policy: 6

Gov. Chris Christie routinely gets slammed within his party for being too liberal, and the brash New Jersey Republican still can’t seem to shake that post Hurricane Sandy hug with President Barack Obama back in 2012. Christie’s score here indicates he’s actually a straight-down-the-middle moderate, but that’s not much of a selling point in a GOP field dominated by outsider and conservative candidates this cycle. In the fourth debate on Nov. 10, Christie’s poll numbers were so low that he was relegated to the undercard, or so-called junior varsity, debate.

#14. Donald Trump: 1.6

— Gun Ownership: 4
— Obamacare: 4
— Taxes: -6
— Immigration: 10
— Foreign Policy: -4

Although Donald Trump’s score using these five metrics shows he has moderate views, the retired businessman holds extreme positions on immigration. He has said he would deport undocumented people currently in the U.S., and made some pretty incendiary comments about immigrants. But a more liberal tax plan that advocates levying higher taxes on the rich balances out his overall score.

#13. George Pataki: 2.0

— Gun Ownership: -10
— Obamacare: 4
— Taxes: 10
— Immigration: -4
— Foreign Policy: 10

As the former GOP governor of New York — and only the third Republican to hold that position since 1923 — it makes sense that George Pataki would score as a moderate conservative. But, as another Republican in a traditionally blue state would tell you (ahem, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie), moderate stances aren’t big selling points this election cycle. That, combined with minimal name recognition, means low polling numbers for Pataki. He got bumped from even the undercard showing at the most recent Republican debate on Nov. 10.

#12. Jeb Bush: 4.0

— Gun Ownership: 4
— Obamacare: 4
— Taxes: 10
— Immigration: -4
— Foreign Policy: 6

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush scores as a fairly conservative Republican. While his tax plan makes cuts for top earners, his more liberal position on immigration give a lot of GOP voters pause. Bush advocates for “earned legal status” for undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S., meaning they would be able to remain in the country but would have to pay a fine and jump through other legal hoops.

#11. Rand Paul: 4.4

— Gun Ownership: 10
— Obamacare: 10
— Taxes: 10
— Immigration: -4
— Foreign Policy: -4

Although Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul holds very conservative views when it comes to guns, the Affordable Care Act and taxes, his score on foreign policy is one of the more liberal among his fellow Republican candidates. In the fourth GOP debate on Nov. 10, Paul got into a heated back-and-forth with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio about military spending, illustrating how different his perspective is compared to the rest of the field.

#10. Ben Carson: 4.8

— Gun Ownership: 4
— Obamacare: 4
— Taxes: 10
— Immigration: 6
— Foreign Policy: 0

A fairly conservative Republican, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson continues to find favor among the right for his measured communication style and his in-plain-English policy proposals. He is most conservative when it comes to taxes — Carson has advocated for a flat-tax based on the model of tithing, a practice in some religions where individuals give a percentage of their income to the church.

But one of Carson’s weak spots is foreign policy. The New York Times recently reported that some of Carson’s advisers said he is struggling to grasp international affairs.

#9. Jim Gilmore: 4.8

— Gun Ownership: 4
— Obamacare: -6
— Taxes: 10
— Immigration: 6
— Foreign Policy: 10

In terms of his conservative score, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore is right in the middle of his fellow Republicans running for president. He is a staunch gun rights supporter and wants to repeal Obamacare, but low name recognition among a national audience hindered his campaign from the start.

#8. John Kasich: 5.2

— Gun Ownership: 10
— Obamacare: 4
— Taxes: 10
— Immigration: -4
— Foreign Policy: 6

Shortly after the third Republican debate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich caught some flack from conservative sites about his defense of CNBC, which was panned by just about everyone for how the moderators handled the evening. When Kasich defended his record on CNN, he said the attack was “silly” and that he’s been a lifelong Republican. Indeed, Kasich’s overall score here puts him decidedly in the conservative category.

#7. Lindsey Graham: 6.0

— Gun Ownership: 10
— Obamacare: 4
— Taxes: 10
— Immigration: -4
— Foreign Policy: 10

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham made foreign policy and a strong military his primary campaign issues from day one. Although that message hasn’t resonated with voters — Graham’s polling numbers were so low that he got booted from even the undercard debate on Nov. 10 — the recent terrorist attacks in Paris may provide an opportunity for him to elbow into the national conversation.

#6. Mike Huckabee: 6.8

— Gun Ownership: 10
— Obamacare: 4
— Taxes: 4
— Immigration: 6
— Foreign Policy: 10

This year marks the second time former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has run for the White House. Like he did in 2008, Huckabee is running a firmly conservative campaign aimed at evangelical Christian voters. And, like in 2008, Huckabee advocates for the FairTax plan, which would eliminate all federal income and payroll taxes in favor of a consumption tax on retail items.

#5. Ted Cruz: 8.0

— Gun Ownership: 10
— Obamacare: 10
— Taxes: 4
— Immigration: 10
— Foreign Policy: 6

Sen. Ted Cruz pins his political brand on an unflinchingly conservative approach, and his overall score on these metrics indicates he, indeed, is one of the most conservative people running for president in 2016. The Texan has been a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, and memorably read “Green Eggs and Ham” on the Senate floor in 2013 during a 21-hour faux-filibuster against the healthcare law.

#4. Marco Rubio: 8.0

— Gun Ownership: 10
— Obamacare: 4
— Taxes: 10
— Immigration: 6
— Foreign Policy: 10

Using these five scoring points, Sen. Marco Rubio is among the most conservative of the people running for president this cycle. The Florida Republican ran as a moderate his first race, back in 2000 for an open seat in the state House of Representatives. By 2013, National Journal ranked Rubio as the 17th most conservative senator on its annual list.

#3. Rick Santorum: 8.8

— Gun Ownership: 4
— Obamacare: 10
— Taxes: 10
— Immigration: 10
— Foreign Policy: 10

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has a legitimate claim as the most radical conservative candidate running for president in 2016. He is a vocal opponent of abortion and advocates for ending Obamacare, even comparing the fight to repeal the healthcare law to the battle against apartheid in South Africa.

#2. Carly Fiorina: 9.2

— Gun Ownership: 10
— Obamacare: 10
— Taxes: 10
— Immigration: 6
— Foreign Policy: 10

Carly Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard, is the most conservative person running in this year’s presidential contest. She is a strong advocate of gun rights and wants to repeal Obamacare. The only issue that she doesn’t hold a conservative score of 10 in is immigration. During her 2010 Senate run in California, Fiorina voiced support for the DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for children brought illegally to the U.S.

#1. Ideology Scores of Every Presidential Candidate

Here’s a full comparison of where each candidate stands on the issues (we included the people who dropped out already for good measure).

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