The Political Compass ™ US Primaries 2008

In response to many requests, not only from Americans, The Political Compass has charted the most prominent names in the 2008 US Primaries. They have been evaluated through scrutiny of public statements, manifestos, interviews and, crucially, voting records. Our apologies for those not included.

It is important to recognise that The Political Compass is a continuum rather than consisting of hard and fast quadrants. For example, Ron Paul on the social scale is actually closer to Dennis Kucinich than to many figures within his own party. But on the economic scale, they are, of course, far apart.

When examining the chart it's important to note that although most of the candidates seem quite different, in substance they occupy a relatively restricted area within the universal political spectrum. Democracies with a system of proportional representation give expression to a wider range of political views. While Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader are depicted on the extreme left in an American context, they would simply be mainstream social democrats within the wider political landscape of Europe. Similarly, Hillary Clinton is popularly perceived as a leftist in the United States while in any other western democracy her record is that of a mainstream conservative.

Perhaps the most breath-taking u-turn in the primaries so far belongs to Mike Gravel, a left-leaning Democrat and undoubted civil libertarian who has now put his lot in with the Libertarian Party. On the social scale this doesn't represent much of a leap, but economically the mercurial Mr.Gravel, a long-standing champion of universal health care and a redistributive economy, has vaulted from social democracy to a radical neo-liberal platform well to the right of most Republicans.

US Primaries Chart 2008