Know Your Next President: A Guide to the 2016 Election Candidates

Ryan Bhandari  |

The election for the next president of the United States is still about sixteen months away, but with the media coverage given to all the candidates, one might reasonably think the election is actually sixteen days away. Unfortunately, that means we are going to have to deal with continued drama and “scandals” until November of 2016. Therefore, we here at thought it might be helpful to give a rundown of all the different candidates, their relative political experience, where they are in the polls, and some of their notable political positions.

On that last one (political positions), to properly list the political positions of each of these candidates would be far too wordy for one article. Therefore, I’m going to highlight a few of the political positions of each candidate that have made headlines in the past.

In general, there are too few Democratic candidates and a clown car of Republican presidential candidates fighting for the privilege of being called President of the United States and Leader of the Free World. Therefore, I only included five Republican candidates and the two Democratic candidates anybody is talking about. Here is a list of all the relevant candidates from both parties for the 2016 Presidential Election.

Hillary Clinton

Party: Democratic

Likelihood of Winning: High

Home State: New York

The clear favorite (from either party) to be elected President of the United States in 2017, Hillary Clinton boasts an impressive resume in politics that includes eight years as First Lady, eight years as a Senator for New York, and four years as Secretary of State under President Obama. Mrs. Clinton has a solid 35-40 point advantage over the rest of the Democratic Party contenders, as well as an advantage over every Republican candidate.

On foreign policy, she’s known as a defense hawk, a clear distinction from the current Democratic President. She also has relatively close ties to Wall Street and the financial community, ties that have drawn criticisms from many Republicans. She has also recently espoused popular Democratic positions: concern with mass incarceration and institutional racism, a wish to fight against income inequality, support for gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose, and (most recently) support for President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran.

Jeb Bush

Party: Republican

Likelihood of Winning: High

Home State: Florida

The brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush, Jeb Bush would truly cement a dynasty if he were elected in 2016. He’s the current frontrunner for the Republican Party and served as Florida’s governor from 1999-2007.

Politically, Bush is seen as a “moderate” Republican. He has affirmed his hatred for the ACA. He is against same-sex marriage (but preaches we should love our neighbor regardless of their sexuality) and abortion (unless it’s incest or rape or threatens the mother’s life), and questions the science behind climate change. Economically, he supports tax cuts across the board and reforming welfare. Notably, Jeb is fluent in Spanish, married to a Hispanic woman, and touts a more moderate approach to comprehensive immigration reform. This could truly help a Republican party that only received 27% of the Hispanic votes in the 2012 election.  

Jeb Bush is the current frontrunner for the Republican nomination.

Bernie Sanders

Party: Democratic

Likelihood of Winning: Low

Home State: Vermont

The self-described Democratic Socialist is making headway in the Democratic Primary Race, the only “challenger” to Hillary Clinton. He is an independent Senator from the state of Vermont, first elected in 2006. Prior to being a senator, he served in the House of Representatives for 16 years from 1991-2007. And before that, he served as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont from 1981-1989.

Politically, Sanders is certainly to the left of frontrunner Hillary Clinton. He is perhaps the biggest vocal opponent of income and wealth inequality and has pledged to raise taxes on the rich if elected president. He opposes free trade agreements that he believes contributes to this inequality. He wants to make tuition free at all public universities in the US. He hasn’t provided much detail as to how he’s going to pay for it, but it sure sounds nice. He’s also very much against war and American interventionist policies overseas.

Sanders is a breath of fresh-air for progressives, but his attempt at the White House is likely not going to end in success. Quite frankly, there’s no way in hell this country would ever elect someone who refers to himself as a “socialist.” 

Donald Trump

Party: Republican

Likelihood of Winning: Low

Home State: New York

Certainly the loudest and most obnoxious candidate in the election, Donald Trump has been making real progress in the polls. His relevant political experience is non-existent. He’s a businessman and believes that makes him qualified to be president. That said, his political positions and policy solutions to America’s problems are surprisingly well thought out and intelligent!

If you couldn’t tell, that’s sarcasm. Trump wants to build a 1,600-mile long wall across the entire South West border with Mexico, and of course, the Mexicans are going to pay for it. Not only that, they’re going to pay us $100 thousand for every immigrant that crosses illegally into the United States. Trump is also going to wipe his ass with NAFTA and impose 20% tariffs on Mexican goods entering the United States to make their goods more expensive and encourage job creators to keep employment opportunities here in the United States. Similarly, he’s going to give the middle finger to China and throw a 25% tariff on all the goods we receive from them, likely igniting a worldwide trade war. This will likely cause him to fall short on his claim that he's going to be "the best jobs president that God has ever created." 

While Trump is currently second in the polls according to Realclearpolitics, there are a lot of Republicans who dislike him and I don’t see any plausible way that he wins the nomination. Even if he does, the general public holds a very negative view of him, so he wouldn’t win the presidency…hopefully. That said, a lot can change between now and November of 2016.

Ben Carson

Party: Republican

Likelihood of Winning: Low

Home State: Michigan

Like Donald Trump, Ben Carson has no political experience either. He’s an accomplished doctor who became an outspoken advocate of conservative policies. He has increased in popularity in the last few years and currently sits at 5th in the polls according to Realclearpolitics.

Politically, Carson’s views are pretty much conservative across the board. Socially, he opposes gay marriage and abortion. Carson also doesn’t believe in evolution, as he is a devout follower of Christ and a man of faith. He opposes the ACA and actually said it was the worst thing to happen to this country since slavery. Economically, Carson supports a flat tax on income, as well as smarter regulation, and widespread cuts across all government agencies.

Carson’s chances of winning are low. He has no political experience and I don’t see him getting past the likes of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio or Scott Walker. Which brings us to…

Scott Walker

Party: Republican

Likelihood of Winning: Medium

Home State: Wisconsin

Governor Scott Walker is a popular figure among conservatives because he attacked the ultimate institution of liberals: unions. Walker is currently the governor of Wisconsin and prior to that, he served on the State Assembly in Wisconsin.

Walker is socially conservative. He’s against legalizing marijuana, gay marriage, abortion, climate change, and he’s pro guns. But Walker is popular because he fought for fiscally conservative policies without backing down or compromising with his opposition. He passed legislation in Wisconsin that allowed teachers (and other public sector workers) to opt out membership in their union. This in turn lowered the membership of the union and dried up their funding. The lack of funding led to the unions firing many of their fulltime workers.

He is a proponent of fiscal austerity and a balanced budget. At the federal level, he wants to cut taxes, cut expenditures, repeal the ACA, build the Keystone XL Pipeline, and roll back federal regulations on businesses and the environment.

Walker’s message resonates with a lot of conservatives. He’s currently third in the polls behind Bush and Trump. In order to secure the nomination, he’s going to have to give a strong performance at the debates.  

Marco Rubio

Party: Republican

Likelihood of Winning: Medium

Home State: Florida

Rubio has often drawn comparisons to Obama. He’s the young, fresh, and ethnic face for the Republican Party. Like Obama was when he declared his run for the presidency, Rubio is currently a first term US Senator. Prior to being a Senator, Rubio was the Speaker of the House of Florida Representatives.

Politically, Senator Rubio was elected with huge support from the Tea Party, but in his time in office has upset many of the tea party constituents. His plan for comprehensive immigration reform that received bipartisan support and passed the Democratically held Senate with 67 votes went nowhere in the House and Rubio was practically forced to walk back his support for his own bill. It included a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, which is a big non-starter for most conservatives.

Fiscally, Rubio is conservative across the board. He supports a balanced budget amendment, a flat income tax, and getting rid of the estate tax and capital gains tax. Socially, he’s conservative in terms of gay marriage and abortion. He has denied manmade climate change in the past, but has more recently said that it might be happening. Even so, he doesn’t support US action to curb the effects, because he believes it will be useless without the cooperation of China and India. This has become a popular view among more moderate conservatives.

The Choice is Yours

There you have it. Hopefully this list has given voters a better idea of where the candidates stand on the important issues facing the country. At this point, it looks certain that the battle will be between Clinton and Bush, Rubio, or Walker. But a lot can change between now and November of 2016. For all we know, we could see a Trump vs. Sanders race. Hopefully not, but with American politics, you never know.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:


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