This piece was published in the December 2015 issue of the Prep News – all Republican candidates were analyzed by Ciaran Molloy, while all Democratic candidates were synthesized by Eli Pittman
Illustration by Noah Boucher
The clear democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton is currently leading Bernie Sanders 58% to 30%, according to polls conducted by CNN. However, this lead has not come without a cost, most obvious in the Benghazi hearing in which she participated, which Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy, up for the Speaker of the House job at the time, applauded the Select Committee who called the Benghazi hearing for hurting Clinton’s poll numbers. She also has received much criticism from her own party for her ties to Wall Street, despite speaking for a stronger middle class and campaign finance reform. Despite this, she has received endorsements from every single female Democratic senator except one, Elizabeth Warren. Campaigning mostly on the platform of women’s rights and eliminating the gender pay gap, addressing the issue of campus sexual assault, putting more restrictions on gun ownership than any candidate and playing up her past experiences in foreign policy as Secretary of State has Clinton currently dominating her opponents.
A self proclaimed Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders has taken the world by storm. While still several points behind in general polls taken by CNN, it is very possible that Sanders wins either Iowa or New Hampshire, two key states in choosing a party’s nominee. Sanders has campaigned on a platform featuring finance reform, which includes repealing the Citizens United landmark ruling, regulating drug companies to make medication affordable, tackling racial inequality in our justice system, making public college free and eliminating student debt, addressing the wealth gap, advocating for women’s rights, and attacking global warming, to name a few. His most stark criticism from Republicans has come in the forms of claims that he has a “communist-like agenda,” most notably from Donald Trump. From his own party, he’s been denounced for his friendliness to the second amendment as well as drone strikes in the Middle East, which he has addressed with a comprehensive plan to basic arms restriction, but has had little response to the plan to keep the drone program alive. A man of percentages, Sanders also won the reader’s poll for TIME’s Person of the Year on Monday, showing that many people truly are “Feeling the Bern.”
Even though Donald Trump is the topic of many jokes, from Democrats and Republicans alike, the numbers don’t lie. As of December 4, Trump leads the Republican pack with 36% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents behind him, according to a recent poll by CNN. Ever since 1952, the Republican nominee holding the polls in fall has been the party’s nominee. According to CNN, Trump holds “dominance over the rest of the field on the issues voters deem most important to them. He holds massive margins over other Republicans as the candidate most trusted to handle the economy, the federal budget, illegal immigration, ISIS and foreign policy.” With numbers looking like this, and history behind him, Trump poses the main threat to other Republican candidates.
Marco Rubio has remained a stagnant blip on the screen in the political world. He has neither increased nor decreased in the race, but remained consistently mediocre. That being said, he is the highest ranked politician in the race, second to real estate magnate Donald Trump and tied with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. He has a certain charismatic appeal that can attract most every follower under the Republican brand. His experience in politics will be his biggest asset, giving him a legitimate claim over Trump and Carson and is probably the most dangerous candidate to take away the presidency from the Democrats.
Ted Cruz has seemed to have been revived from a downward free fall of insignificance to hold the fourth position in the Republican nominee race. This upsurge of points is due in part to his consolidation of voters in Iowa, an incredibly vital state to win as it begins the nomination process. He has received many attacks from other Republican candidates, but none more so than Marco Rubio. Though Rubio claims that he and Cruz “get along very well,” his most recent attacks accuse Cruz of limiting intelligence programs during a time of war. Yet, Cruz continues to shrug off the attacks to rise up the ladder. However, he still has the mindset of a candidate lower on the list and won’t be a threat to anyone unless he vamps up his game, and gains much more support.
Ben Carson’s campaign has been a comedy of errors so far. His stories about his past life have fallen through, his religious statements have ostracized many people (though nowhere near as many ostracized by Trump) and the attacks he has received from his running mate (again, mostly Trump) should make his following next to nonexistent. But he is tied for second place in the polls because of his demeanor. He is viewed as the calm, cool and collected candidate when compared to Trump, and that has been his greatest asset. But, if he continues the way he has, the only threat to his campaign is himself.