Updated, February 15, 2019.
November 3, 2020, is exactly 637 days away. The day when voters will head to the ballots for the 2020 presidential election. And though we have almost two years until the day is upon us, the election is already heating up, with numerous people throwing their hats into the ring, announcing their candidacies or, at the very least, exploring their options. Everyone — from seasoned politicians to billionaire businessmen — has decided that 2020 is their year.
This is the most diverse set of candidates in American history. Women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community have all come forward, and it’s shaping up to be a head-spinning, confusing, busy election. With all of the confusion, you’re probably asking: “Who is actually running, and what do they believe?”
If you want to know more about the 2020 presidential candidates, here’s your guide to their beliefs on major issues:
Amy Klobuchar, Senator from Minnesota
Klobuchar, a thrice-elected senator, is the latest Democrat to confirm she’s running for President. On Sunday, February 10, Klobuchar announced her candidacy in the middle of a snowstorm — an appropriate setting for the born-and-raised Minnesotan. Before she was elected to Senate in 2006, Klobuchar was a corporate lawyer who got into politics in the 1990s when she was “kicked out” of the hospital only 24-hours after giving birth. After her experience, she successfully lobbied the Minnesota state legislature to guarantee at least 48 hours in the hospital for new moms — which later became federal law under then-President Bill Clinton.
Klobuchar became a public servant when she was elected Hennepin County attorney in 1998, a position she held until she was elected to Senate. She’s considered more moderate than other high-profile Democrats running: she votes with Trump 31.5 percent of the time, compared to, say, Elizabeth Warren, who votes with Trump 13.5 percent of the time.
Climate change: Klobuchar would not only rejoin the Paris climate agreement on her first day in office, she supports the recently released Green New Deal, per the Associated Press. She has a lifetime score of 95 percent from the League of Conservation Voters, and in 2008, she addressed the Senate about introducing a cap-and-trade market system (which puts an increasingly strict cap on emissions and allows companies to buy and sell carbon allowances, effectively incentivizing lower emissions) that would have cut emissions by 70 percent by 2050.
LGBTQ rights: In 2013, Klobuchar was one of 41 Senators to co-sponsor a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. She co-sponsored a 2013 bill to end employer discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and in 2018 she co-sponsored a bill to “end discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools” after the Trump administration rolled back Title IX protections for trans kids, and she has publicly come out against the trans military ban. She was endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign for her 2018 Senate re-election campaign.
Immigration: While Klobuchar does not support the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), she has said the immigration system needs sweeping reforms. In November 2018, she told George Stephanopoulos, “We have the will to put the money at the border for better security and combine it with some sensible reforms, including things like a path to citizenship, things like making sure we have workers on our fields and in our factories that we need.” She believes in a path to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants, particularly DACA recipients. Further, she would increase legal immigration; she initially tried to increase the number of visas in 2013 as part of a bipartisan coalition attempting to reform the immigration system.
Taxes: The Minnesota Senator voted against the 2017 Republican tax overhaul, and throughout her career, she has consistently voted against tax cuts for the rich. Per the Washington Post, she has previously proposed expanding 529 savings accounts, qualified tuition savings plans meant to make saving for higher education easier, to cover more vocational and technical programs. In her candidacy announcement, she stated that she would close tax loopholes for wealthy Americans.
Gun control: At her campaign kickoff, Klobuchar, whose constituency in Minnesota has a 36.7 percent gun ownership rate — said she would advocate for “common sense gun laws.” She is a co-sponsor of the 2019 re-introduction of the Assault Weapons Ban. She supports expanding background checks to cover all gun sales, and she was endorsed by the Coalition to End Gun Violence during her 2018 re-election campaign.
Health care: Klobuchar does not support Senator Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-All bill. Instead, she says she supports universal coverage and would like to lower the age at which individuals could buy into Medicare to 55 (it’s currently set at 65-years-old).
Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts
After Warren announced that she had formed an exploratory committee at the end of 2018, she officially announced her candidacy on Saturday, February 9 in Massachusetts, in a speech taking the “ultra-wealthy” to task for what she called decades-long class warfare. First elected to Senate in 2012 when she defeated Republican Scott Brown, Warren is now the Senior Senator from Massachusetts. Before she was elected to office, she was a law professor who studied and specialized in issues concerning bankruptcy and middle-class personal finance. Her rise to the public consciousness, then, was not exactly a surprise: she first became a national name thanks to her advocacy for middle-class Americans in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. She pushed for and was instrumental in the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a watchdog agency officially formed under the Obama administration, meant to regulate large financial institutions and protect consumers from predatory and misleading financial products.
Climate change: Warren recently stated in a video announcing the Climate Risk Disclosure Act, “Climate change is a clear and present danger for our planet. It’s also a looming disaster for our economy.” The proposed act, she says, would force companies to disclose publicly how climate change could affect their value. It’s no surprise, given her background, that she’s approaching climate change from an economic standpoint, but importantly, she posits that this would pressure large companies to transition to cleaner energy without costing taxpayers anything. According to Axios, one of Warren’s aides says that the Senator backs the idea of the Green New Deal, but has not specified if she would enact Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal or something more moderate.
LGBTQ rights: Given that Massachusetts has recognized same-sex marriage since 2004 and even updated their health care laws to guarantee coverage for same-sex couples, it’s not surprising that Warren is an advocate for the LGBTQ community. She even pushed former President Obama to “evolve already” on the issue of same-sex marriage in 2012, and as a brand-new Senator, she supported 2013’s Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which passed the Senate and is waiting in limbo in the House. The bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and/or sexual orientation. More recently, she has supported efforts to classify conversion therapy as “dangerous, fraudulent” and she vehemently opposed confirming both Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Immigration: Warren has been an outspoken opponent of the Trump administration‘s nationalist, isolationist immigration policies. She visited the border to investigate the administration’s family separation policy, tweets frequently about the fact that children are still separated from their parents, and advocates for what she calls “comprehensive immigration reform.” That includes protecting DACA recipients and giving them a path to citizenship and replacing ICE with a completely new agency that “reflects [Americans’] morality.” She voted for 2016’s Fair Day In Court for Kids Act and 2019’s bill to keep DACA information private and prevent immigration officials from using DACA recipients’ information against them.
Taxes: Warren has long been a staunch opponent of the large financial institutions who caused the 2008 financial crash—the same institutions (and people) who are benefitting from the 2017 Republican tax overhaul. But instead of an increased marginal tax rate, à la Ocasio-Cortez, Warren will propose a wealth tax—a yearly levy on extreme fortunes. Americans with fortunes of $50 million to $999 million will pay a yearly 2 percent levy, and billionaires will pay a yearly 3 percent levy. The plan will, according to the Washington Post, would raise roughly $2.75 trillion from just 75,000 families over 10 years, and it includes safeguards against avoiding the levy. She would also raise the corporate tax rate and income tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, though she hasn’t specified a number.
Health care: Warren co-sponsored Senator Sanders’s 2017 Medicare for All bill. That said, she has dodged questions about whether or not she would eliminate the private insurance market. As Slate reports, “She’s open to single-payer, but isn’t signaling that she’s wedded to it.” In other words: Warren is not guaranteeing a massive overhaul of the health care system but rather likely proposing Medicare become available to anyone who wants it while private markets remain intact.