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Posted by on Aug 4, 2007 in Politics | 28 comments

2008 Presidential Candidates: Where They Stand On The Issues

On The Issues

Exactly fifteen months from today, Americans will go to the polls to select the 44th President of the United States of America.

Thus far, there’s been a lot of discussion regarding the charisma, style, and fundraising prowess of the 2008 Presidential Candidates without a lot of focus upon where the candidates stand on the individual issues. The political website On The Issues keeps track of where candidates stand on the issues and plots their political positions on a 2-dimensional chart which—like the Nolan Chart—plots social issues versus economic issues.

I find myself in disagreement with some of the results, as the data tends to make the Democrats seem more socially liberal than they really are and Republicans seem more fiscally conservative than they really are. Also, given that Ron Paul has a record of voting against virtually every spending bill that comes before him, I find it hard to believe that Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, Tom Tancredo, Sam Brownback, and Duncan Hunter are more fiscally conservative than he is. However, it gives a relative overview of where the candidates stand on the issues.

I think what stands out immediately is how diverse the Republicans are on social issues, spanning from Ron Paul (who holds the most libertarian views on social issues) to Duncan Hunter (who holds the most communitarian views on social issues). The Democrats, in contrast, share fairly similar views on social issues and differ very little on economic issues.

DEMOCRATS
Joe Biden
Hillary Clinton
Chris Dodd
John Edwards
Mike Gravel
Dennis Kucinich
Barack Obama
Bill Richardson

REPUBLICANS
Sam Brownback
Rudy Giuliani
Mike Huckabee
Duncan Hunter
John McCain
Ron Paul
Mitt Romney
Tom Tancredo
Fred Thompson
Tommy Thompson

Note: This post was cross-posted at The Coming Realignment.

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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • Lynx

    Duncan Hunter? Who the hell is he?

    Really, 18 candidates? I could swear that previous elections didn’t have such a swarm. Also, notice how not one of them enters “moderate” except borderline Richardson, Giulinani and Ron Paul.

  • how diverse the Republicans are on social issues

    isn’t that ironic, considering how the Republicans have marched in lock-step with the party.

  • Blah, BS! Edwards on the right on the right of Clinton, but Obama far out on the left? Again, BS! In fact, the order, from left to right, should be Edwards, Obama, Clinton, ok?

  • And Libertarian and Populist aren’ really opposite sides. There are populist libertarians! I Should be liberal vs. authoritarian, and then the blandscape would look quite differently.
    :-/

  • ok, blandscape is a freudian typo, but, hey, there’s some truth to it, right?
    😀

  • I think what stands out immediately is how diverse the Republicans are on social issues, spanning from Ron Paul (who holds the most libertarian views on social issues) to Duncan Hunter (who holds the most communitarian views on social issues).

    I’m guessing you aren’t a mathematician, Nick.

    Ron Paul is what we’d call an outlier. The Democrats and Republicans have almost identical diversity on your plot. Put the numbers in a calculator and I’ll bet you get nearly identical standard deviation from the two means.

    Also the idea that Rudy – “I support abortion rights, but I’ll only appoint judges who’d ban it” – Giuliani is a centrist is a bit much.

  • “Also the idea that Rudy – “I support abortion rights, but I’ll only appoint judges who’d ban it” – Giuliani is a centrist is a bit much.”

    Right. He said those things while trying to become mayor of liberal New York, and now that he’s pandering the right, he doesn’t wan tto be reminded of it. He’s just a pathological liar, willing to say eversthing for votes.

    Now, where would be the right position for him on this graph? Who knows???

  • It’s also notable that in their summary of presidential positions for the 2004 race http://grid.ontheissues.org/Issue_Grid.htm

    Bush comes out as a centrist on:

    Abortion: pro-life, no litmus test
    Families: abstinence, V-chip, tough laws
    Foreign Policy: befriend Americas, pressure Russia
    Goverment Reform: limit judges, limit lawsuits
    Gun Control: more laws, more rights

    Cheney comes out as a centrist on:

    Civil Rights: some gay rights, fewer womens rights
    Corporations: No Halliburton influence

    I think we can official throw their ratings in the garbage now.

  • No Peace Without Justice

    It may be wise for the American Voter to finally realize that it is the “Shadow Government” within Washington that elects the President & the Vice President, besides other matters of importance to the American People. The Constitution, as layed down by the Founding Fathers have been violated by the present “Shadow Government” in favor of their self interest and the gross negligence to address the Peoples interest. Taxpayers Money have been skillfully looted with the pretext of Fancy Words of Deception.

  • I’m guessing you aren’t a mathematician, Nick.

    Ron Paul is what we’d call an outlier. The Democrats and Republicans have almost identical diversity on your plot. Put the numbers in a calculator and I’ll bet you get nearly identical standard deviation from the two means.

    Standard Deviation on Social Issues
    Democrats: 12.99
    Republicans: 16.00

    The Standard Deviation (SD) on social issues for Republicans is clearly greater than the SD on social issues for Democrats. Whether 12.99 and 16.00 are “nearly identical”, I’ll leave for others to decide for themselves.

  • “Whether 12.99 and 16.00 are “nearly identical”, I’ll leave for others to decide for themselves”

    Regarding the fact that personal opinions can’t be reproducibly translated into numeric data by subjectively weighing public statements: Yes, that’s damn close.
    Or do you want to give us an objective rate of error for this statistics? Hmmm?

  • Gray,

    I think me plotting candidates positions on a chart and providing links to their positions is a lot more objective than you simply asserting it isn’t so.

    Also, I think the rest of you are mistaking what I mean by the Republican candidates having more “diverse” views on social issues than Democratic candidates. I use “diverse” to mean “spanning a wide degree political opinion. On social issues, the Republican candidates span the gamut from very communitarian views (i.e. Duncan Hunter) to somewhat libertarian views (i.e. Ron Paul). This is in contrast to the Democrat candidates, all of whom have (according to On the Issues) libertarian-leaning views on social issues.

    I don’t see what’s controversial about this. The Republican candidates are far less unified in their stances on social policy than the Democratic candidates are. Think of Ron Paul’s opposition to his party’s stance on the Patriotic Act, or Rudy Giuliani’s opposition to his party’s stance on abortion, or John McCain’s opposition to his party’s stance on immigration.

    You don’t see that kind of breaking of ranks on the Democratic side.

  • superdestroyer

    I would not classify any of the Democratic candidates as libertarian leaning because they all propose ways for the government to either pay for the negative impacts of personal social decisions or to have programs to limit their impact.

    How can an candidate support legalizing drugs while proposing public funded drug treatment programs?

  • “Gray, I think me plotting candidates positions on a chart and providing links to their positions is a lot more objective than you simply asserting it isn’t so.”

    Uh huh. Well, maybe I stand corrected. So, no more brouhaha, pls tell me about your scientific method to get numeric data from the candidates public statements on their positions. 😛

    Now, seriously, stop pretending this is possible. it ain’t . It’s always a question of judment. And if somebody else wozuld have done the job, this chart most probably would look quite different.

    Hey, why don’t we simply look into thew crystal ball to see what any given politician is really thinking? If this would work, Bush wouldn’t have been elected (neither the first nor the second!).

  • “I would not classify any of the Democratic candidates as libertarian”
    Maybe you’re right, superDD, but, heck, what is ‘libertarian’ doing on the chart at all? Is it really the opposite of ‘populist’? Or wouldn’t we expect to see ‘stalinist’ in the south, or, if we want to keep ‘populist’, wouldn’t bew something like ‘idontcareism’ be right for the north?

    See, the problem always starts wqith the one who’s chosing th catewgories. Why ‘liberal’ and not ‘freedom oriented’? Why ‘conservative’ and not ‘authoritarian’? These choices are somwhat arbitrary, but they heavily influence the final ‘result’. Sometimes, if real scientist spend a lot of thinking on the methods, we might learn something from such graphs, but in this case, I can only say:Nothing to see here, pls move on (.org)
    😀

  • How can an candidate support legalizing drugs while proposing public funded drug treatment programs?

    By doing so on pragmatic grounds instead of libertarian grounds.

    It is perfectly consistent to believe that drugs have negative personal and social impacts requiring a government response AND to believe that the nature of that response should be remedial (treatment) rather than punitive (prison). Insofar as treatment programs have a markedly better cost-benefit relationship than prison does, the belief you find incoherent may in fact be more coherent than the criminalization status quo.

  • I would not classify any of the Democratic candidates as libertarian leaning because they all propose ways for the government to either pay for the negative impacts of personal social decisions or to have programs to limit their impact.

    Superdestroyer,

    One of my biggest criticisms of the On The Issues methodology is that it does not differentiate between civil liberties (which are truly libertarian) and civil rights (which are not truly libertarian and are particularly unlibertarian when they call for an expansion of government). However, that doesn’t change that fact that the Democrats are more libertarian than the Republicans on certain issues (i.e. the USA PATRIOT Act, the Electronic Surveillance Program, the War on Drugs).

    Uh huh. Well, maybe I stand corrected. So, no more brouhaha, pls tell me about your scientific method to get numeric data from the candidates public statements on their positions.

    Gray,

    The methology is explained in the explanation of political philosophy section at On The Issues:

    Political issues are divided into one of two groups: social issues (i.e. abortion, civil rights, drugs, family) or economic issues (i.e. corporations, free trade, education, health care). Based upon a candidates voting record and stated position on a given issue, he or she is given a score between -5 and +5 (i.e. a -5 if a candidate strongly opposes an issue, a 5 if a candidate strongly supports an issue, and a 0 if a candidate has is neutral or has not stated an opinion on an issue).

    The aggregate scores for both social issues and economic issues are then plotted on the chart for each candidate.

    As I’ve already mentioned before, I believe the data is skewed (it exaggerates how socially liberal Democrats are and exaggerates how fiscally conservative Republicans are). This, however, is a function of relying upon a candidate’s votes and campaign statements rather than really probing into what a candidate believes on a given issue. Still, the methodology makes sense, and the results are much more informative than a one-dimensional liberal-versus-conservative spectrum.

  • isn’t that ironic, considering how the Republicans have marched in lock-step with the party.

    Just goes to show once again how stereotypes rarely reflect reality with any significant degree of accuracy.

    The stereotypes that I often read about Republicans from many of the non-Republicans around here are so wildly inaccurate that I am surprised that intelligent people can so deeply believe in them, especially when those same people so often express their revulsion for other kinds of stereotypes. In fact, I can’t think of the last time I even saw Republicans treated by the many non-Republicans in TMV comments sections with basic fairness, let alone with civility, charity, or (gasp!) respect. It’s really very sad.

  • superdestroyer

    I would never call the political party that supported the Kelo decision, that wants to assigned children to schools on the basis of race, and wants to ban the use of trans-fats as freedom loving.

    The libertarisn POV would be to end the war on drugs but to end any and all government treatment programs. If the person gets the enefits of drug use or is sexual promiscuious, or ride their motoycle in the rain without a helmet, they shoud suffer the adverse impacts of their decisions.

    Maybe the difference is the conventional liberal wants to treat people like children and lock in the a playpen, a conservative wants to treat them like children and spank them; and the libertarian excepts adults to act like adults.

  • You and I must are reading these numbers differently.
    Counting everyone, I get:

    R – 18.4, D – 13.9

    Take away Ron Paul and the the Republicans drop to

    R – 12.1

    In other words, the “diversity” of Republican candidates is entirely due to a single person.

    The actual scale is arbitrary, but you may notice that everyone falls on a round multiple of 10 which tells you what your numerical uncertainty level is (+- 5 units).

    And of course you (in your post) and Gray in the comments have pointed out how subjective these measures are.

    And any site that calls Dick Cheney a centrist on civil rights needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt.

  • Jason, I’m not dishing stereotypes here. GOP legislators have shown more than enough “cohesion” for the “lock-step” label to stick. But before leaving that topic, the GOP has dealt stereotypes for decades “tax and spend” “pinko commie” etc. More recently it’s been “traitors” “godless” “with the terrorists” etc. It has been ugly, ugly, ugly, and it is your pary my friend, who set this tone, after saying they would do exactly the opposite.

    For the last 7 years, America got to see exactly what an all-Republican government would do, will do, has done. This is no stereotype or speculation.

    civil liberties: torture, spying, library records, medical records, banking records, phone calls, free speech zones, kidnapping, anti-choice

    foreign policy: lying to justify war, leaking CIA agent name and destroying a network of antiterrorism intelligence, alienating allies, us vs. them rhetoric, abandonment of diplomacy, war, war and war profiteering

    fiscal policy: flagrantly irresponsible. borrowing trillions from our kids to give to the already-rich, not to invest in infrastructure or build our place in the world, but a cynical grab for all the treasure they can scare us into letting them steal.

    church and state: religious dogma driving policy, radical christianity over reason and science, public funding of religion

    These are the facts of what the GOP does when it has power. No stereotype required. We get it. May that dangerous, greedy, dishonest, corrupt and anti-American party submerge for a very very long time.

  • the GOP has dealt stereotypes for decades “tax and spend” “pinko commie” etc.

    It never ceases to amaze me how some people believe that bad behavior by some people who have never, ever posted on TMV somehow makes it ok for them to do it here over and over and over.

    And besides, are you really saying that you consider those awful, evil Republicans to be good models for behavior that you seek to emulate? Isn’t the fact that those horrible, awful, evil people use such tactics a reason that you should want to AVOID using them yourself?

    Your laundry list of claims includes mostly things that are matters of internal debate among Republicans, by the way. Your evidence intended to defend your “lock step” characterization of that party (a characterization that you perpetually use as a club HERE in spite of the fact that FEW or NONE of the people who post HERE have ever defended the things you thoughtlessly ascribe to them. Your doing so is very disrespectful towards them, but obviously you do not care because, after all, they are evil Republicans (or like me people you errantly assume to be evil Republicans simply because they DARE to disagree with you) so they obviously deserve it.

    If this is the standard we should use, however, let’s use it in both directions. If all Republicans who might still post around HERE are responsible for the things you CONSTANTLY hold them responsible for just because OTHER Republicans did them, then I assume it will be ok for me to hold YOU responsible to everything that every Democratic Party member somewhere else ever did wrong, correct? Having seen the authoritarian impulses (i.e. speech codes and other forms of thought policing) that tend to control when a certain type of Democrats dominate to the point of exclusion, I can conclude based on reciprocal use of the standard YOU use to bash all Republicans and center-right non-Republicans that you are responsible for their authoritarianism, right? This seems especially appropriate given that you appear to advocate a single-party state where any other party is “submerged” and where your party dominates everything. And since the use of hateful labels towards all dissenters (“racist”, “sexist”, “homophobe”) has also been found among Democrats, I assume you are also willing to accept personal responsibility for THOSE in response to you EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU POST A COMMENT just like some of us seem to have to face accusations of association with what some Republicans alleged did nearly every time we post anything.

    Perhaps if you receive for a while the same treatment around here that every Republican or center-right non-Republican has been forced to accept for the last year, you’ll begin to understand how offensive it is.
    The level of harassment (and yes, “harassment” is the right term) that is sprayed in the face of everyone who ever posts or comments from a non-left perspective here is ridiculous and it’s perhaps time that reciprocation is in order. It seems the only way to get you out of your cloud of smug long enough to see the problem. Either that, or some of you could chill out a little and give other commenters the MINIMAL respect of being treated as individuals instead of just blank walls upon which you can paste your ill-informed ideological stereotypes. Not all Republicans think alike, not all center-right posters are Republicans, and not everyone who disagrees with you is an agent of “the enemy”, ok?

    P.S. If you are going to hold “my party” responsible, then I think you have an obligation to show proof. Please post your evidence that the Independence Party of Minnesota (the only political party I have ever belonged to OR contributed any money to) has done any of the things that you claim. Actually, the fact that you made the assumption that you did pretty much proves true my criticism of your approach — you leaped to the conclusion that anyone who disagrees with your contempt for Republicans must themselves be a contemptible Republican. That is a “red flag” that you are proceeding from stereotypes rather than from an individualized assessment of what the other person (singular) is or is not actually saying.

  • Oh my. did I touch a nerve? Jason, commenters here have in fact condoned and defended lying under oath, (perjury) and obstruction of justice (Scooter Libby), and have in fact parroted the party line that dissent is unpatriotic, that the subordination of civil rights is a necessary evil ‘in these times,’ defended the irresponsible fiscal policies I detailed, argued for such things as elimination of the inheritance tax (paid only by the richest 1/100th of 1% of Americans), the war and treatment of prisoners, Gitmo and “extraordinary rendition”, Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, and many many other Republican positions that I consider to be in direct conflict with the values elucidated by the Founders in our Constitution.

    Sorry about getting your party wrong. It was easy to jump to the conclusion that you are Republican, or at least in agreement with many Republican policies, from your many posts, all of which I have read.

    As for “contempt” of Republicans, I grew up Republican. I believed then, and believe now, in non-intrusive government, privacy, states rights, individual rights, fiscal responsibility, and many of the other values formerly held by my former party. I don’t know who today’s GOP is. It no longer reflects those values or includes them in its agenda. This is what I abhor, and will continue to speak out about:

    The essential cruelty of Bush’s game is that he takes an astonishingly selfish and greedy collection of economic and political proposals and then cloaks them with a phony moral authority that is misleading many Americans who have a deep and genuine desire to do good in the world. And in the process he convinces these Americans to lend unquestioning support for proposals that actually hurt their families and their communities.

    I’m passionate about personal freedoms, social justice, environmental protection, free and fair elections, rational discourse, democracy, peace and in general, a caring approach to the earth and it’s inhabitants. When I see widespread manipulation of public opinion and policy intended to profit from the destruction of these values, it angers me. I guess it shows.

    Apologies if I have offended. We left-of-center types have been slandered and libeled in the most vicious ways, and I for one am angry about it. The GOP tone, the policies, the divergence from our nation’s values and those of it’s people are a direct result of the neoconservative positions taken by some who post here, and some who comment. I don’t intend to “harass” but do get emotional about these issues. I think many of us do.

  • We left-of-center types have been slandered and libeled in the most vicious ways

    Not by anyone here.

    I think that it is time for you (and a couple of other commenters) to stop treating those of us who never said any of those things as if we had said them. You said that you grew up GOP and that the current party leadership has deviated from the values that they held dear. That recognition itself contradicts the prior notion that all Republicans are in “lock step” with the current leadership agenda.

    If there are individuals here who do say “neocon” things here, then you and others are certainly justified in treating them as individually responsible for their own words. But I do not think you are justified in treating everyone who expresses one or two right-leaning opinions as if they were in “lock step” with everything on the stereotypical far-right agenda. I will continue to call out that blatant disrespect when it occurs.

    I actually agree with most criticisms of the current GOP leadership. For heaven’s sake, there is a reason that I am a member of the Independence Party instead of the Republican Party, eh? But I cannot condone the slander that equates all Republicans as being in “lock step” with that agenda because I personally know way too many good and honest Republicans who do not march in “lock step” with the current leadership and who are as distressed as you claim to be about the direction that the current leadership has taken the party. They seek to recapture their party and their cause (with which you claim sympathy) is not helped when they CONSTANTLY stand falsely accused of being in league with the current leadership.

    As for national Republicans, let’s review the data that refutes your stereotype of all Republicans marching in “lock step”. Chuck Hagel is a Republican and is more anti-war than many Democrats. John McCain can hardly be held to be in “lock step” on condoning torture. Arlen Specter has repeatedly condemned overreaching attempts at executive power. Rudi Giuliani breaks ranks with conservative Republicans on social issues far more than any top-tier Democratic presidential candidate breaks with Democratic orthodoxy on ANY issue. And lest we forget, the most recent call for repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military came from a Republican, Alan Simpson.

    Why don’t you try dealing with people who post or comment here as individuals with individual beliefs instead of mere representatives of a stereotypical “neocon” Republican. Maybe then it will be possible to actually have a discussion based on real differences of opinion instead of contrived, made up ones.

  • I didn’t accuse commenters here in being in “lock-step.” I took issue with your assertion that the GOP presidential contenders represent more diversity of opinion than the Democrats. Subtract Ron Paul and that assertion falls apart. I pointed out that the current administration and past 6 GOP Congresses supported the positions of the administration “on party line votes”. On PATRIOT Act, Military Commissions, support of Gonzales, Roberts and Alito, warrantless spying, energy policy, belligerent foreign policy, ‘unitary executive’ and other key issues I consider to be a degrading to our democracy and our values. The GOP outliers, like Specter and Hagel are not candidates for the 2008 presidential race and hence not included in my “lock-step” comment. Both have been courageous critics of the Bush/Cheney policies. McCain does now support what I consider to be un-American positions on due process and privacy.

    I have reread my comments carefully, and confirmed that I did not attack those who post or comment here. I did point out, accurately, that some have supported those very positions I consider dangerous to our Republic. No doubt about it, my comments are intended to be a scathing rebuke to those who empowered this administration to invoke fear in the service of greed and which is working with its corporate masters to amass power and money in a way that serves up a degraded planet and a mountain of debt to our children.

    I don’t want a one-party system, but find no redeeming qualities left in the GOP. Can you name some?

  • I took issue with your assertion that the GOP presidential contenders represent more diversity of opinion than the Democrats.

    And once AGAIN you make a huge error by lumping together all people you disagree with as if they were one person. I never said anything like that. As you can see if you bother to ever scroll up and check before you ascribe views to someone, Nick Rivera (NOT a conservative, btw) wrote that post, not me.

    You are setting some kind of record for repeatedly proving true my criticism of your current approach true multiple times in a single day. 🙂

    Finally, if you really wish to criticize only the presidential candidates or the congressional leadership, it might be helpful in the future if you specified the scope of your generalizations about “the Republicans” instead of leaving it with the clear impression that “the Republicans” refers to ALL Republicans in the same way that “the Americans” tends to refer to ALL Americans instead of just residents of a single state, “the government” tends to refer to the ENTIRE government instead of just a single branch and “the Minnesota Vikings” tends to refer to the entire football team instead of just the defensive secondary.

  • P.S. Once I see a “scathing rebuke” directed towards anyone EXCEPT Republicans and/or center-right non-Republicans (or occasionally towards Democrats for not being anti-Republican ENOUGH), I might start being less prone to seeing rampant “harassment”.

  • Glad to oblige. Shame on every Democratic legislator who voted to gut the Constitution with respect to spying, lying and the erosion of checks and balances, for fear of being labeled soft on terrorism. (not anti-Republican, pro-Republic). Shame on them for not fighting harder against an attorney general who condones lying and obstruction, supports the aforementioned erosion of checks and balances and considers the anti-torture provisions of the Geneva convention “quaint”.

    Shame on them for passing and Clinton for signing the Telecommunications Act, about which I have written here if you ever bothered to look at what someone has actually written 😉

    That donation-inspired legislation brought in $80 million in political contributions to legislators who gave away an estimated $90 billion worth of public property–the limited spectrum of our airwaves.

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