This past winter I attended at least five 18th birthday celebrations, including my own. Many HHS seniors will be reaching the age of legal adulthood in the coming months, just in time for the 2016 election. Now that I am legally eligible to vote, I wanted to learn a little bit more about each of the candidates before casting my ballot. Since it is pretty difficult to find unbiased information on the internet, here are the 2016 presidential candidates at a glance.
On the Republican side:
Donald Trump- Billionaire businessman is the leading Republican candidate and has been very controversial. He is not afraid to say exactly what he thinks and has offended women, African Americans, Muslims, immigrants, Democrats and even Republicans with his uncensored remarks. His effect has been so far polarizing: people either love his ultra-conservative attitude or hate everything he stands for.
Ted Cruz- Deputy assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration and Texas solicitor general in 2003. In 2012 he surprisingly beat a heavily favored Texas Republican for Senate. Cruz is a hardcore conservative which has polarized some voters, and other conservatives are now favoring Trump because he is much more of a personality.
Marco Rubio- Second-generation Cuban-American and former speaker of the Florida House also was elected as Florida senator in 2010. Rubio has the support of establishment Republicans and has described his policy on interventionist foreign policy which, he asserts, would commit the U.S. to more decisive action in world affairs. He is rising in the polls and hopes to make a strong showing in the Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina caucuses.
Jeb Bush- Definitely has experience; his father and brother were both presidents and he has already served two terms as governor of Florida. His beliefs are quite similar to his father’s and brother’s, and he is attracting the most support from Wall Street donors. He has shown a declining popularity, as it has become unclear to voters exactly where he stands on key issues.
Ben Carson- Former head of pediatric neuroscience at Johns Hopkins has the support of grassroots conservatives because of his personal rags-to-riches story. Carson grew up in poverty and persevered to achieve his dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon. The only factors working against Carson are his inexperience with politics and lack of knowledge of key issues, which has led to his dropping from second to fourth in the polls.
Rand Paul- Former Kentucky senator is much more conservative, taking stands against abortion and gay marriage. He has the support of libertarians, civil libertarians, and non-interventionist Republicans.
Chris Christie- Governor of New Jersey and former U.S. Attorney who dislikes Bush and Kasich. He is a moderate Republican in favor of big business. He gained the support of the New Hampshire Labor Union but does not have a very strong support base.
John Kasich- Current governor of Ohio who ran for president in 2000. He is very popular with blue-collar voters, his beliefs are much more moderate than Donald Trump’s and he is a steady candidate. Kasich is relying on New Hampshire voters to carry him through the election.
Carly Fiorina- A CEO of Hewlett-Packard and adviser in John McCain’s 2012 presidential campaign. Her interests are friendly to big business but she has no real experience in holding a political position herself, which is keeping some voters away. She is currently only ahead of Santorum and Gilmore in the polls.
Rick Santorum- This former Pennsylvania senator is seeking the support of social conservatives but most likely will not win the election because he does not have the support he is looking for.
Mike Huckabee- An ordained preacher, former governor of Arkansas, and Fox News host who has already run in one presidential election (2008) and placed third. Huckabee has created an image for himself as a populist but faced negative feedback from more conservative groups in his party after taxes were raised during the time he served as governor. Also, most of the Evangelical Christian voters he has been trying to impress have expressed more interest in Ben Carson.
Jim Gilmore- A former governor of Virginia and chair of the National Republican Committee. If you haven’t heard his name, it’s not surprising — he is considered a long shot.
On the Democrat side:
Hillary Clinton- Definitely well known in politics. She’s a trained attorney, former Secretary of State in the Obama administration, former senator from New York, and former first lady. She has the support of most of the Democratic Party because, while she is liberal, she is not too extreme and has had a lot of experience in politics. The polls have shown that she is most likely going to win the Democratic bid.
Bernie Sanders- Served as both a representative and senator for Vermont. He has described himself as a socialist and is extremely liberal, which has brought him support from the democrats who worry that Clinton would favor the wealthy. Sanders has been competitive with Clinton, but has had trouble establishing a support base in the south.
Martin O’Malley- Former Baltimore mayor and governor of Maryland. He is running a progressive campaign and is more conservative than Sanders. He has had a hard time gaining support because ultra-liberals support Sanders and the more conservative support Clinton.
The list of candidates will only shrink as caucus season begins, starting in Iowa on Feb. 2. During caucuses, local voters cast their support for their preferred candidate and historically, the candidate with the most caucus wins earns the presidential nomination.