The US Presidential Candidates 2020

We have analysed speeches, manifestos and, crucially, voting records in the compilation of this chart. As the campaign proceeds, the chart will be amended to reflect policy changes and other relevant developments.

While the volume of correspondence prohibits us from engaging in communications concerning particular placements, all emails are nevertheless carefully read.

Updated 24 February 2020

The Political Compass is a universal tool, applicable to all western democracies. It shows the whole potential political landscape, not simply one within the confines of any particular country. For example, Bernie Sanders is popularly perceived in his own country as an off-the-wall left figure; in other western democracies he would sit squarely within the mainstream social democratic parties that regularly form governments or comprise the largest opposition. Conversely, a US candidate who believes in unfettered market forces or capital punishment may be seen at home as mainstream, but ‘extreme’ in other developed countries. Similarly, ‘Obamacare’ is seen as a liberal/left initiative in the US, while in other developed countries it is viewed as a tepid version of the long-established universal public health care systems that are broadly supported by conservatives as well as social democrats.

Sanders’ unexpectedly strong showing, despite an overwhelmingly hostile media, has reinvigorated the progressive wing of the party.

In the initially crowded field of candidates in the US 2020 primaries, there were some interesting clusters of attitudes. For example very few candidates were opposed to increases to the military budget, including some who are nevertheless also against foreign intervention. Some with a strong commitment to countering climate change nevertheless uphold an equally strong commitment to unlimited economic growth, and sometimes even to the further deregulation of corporate polluters.

The Democratic camp offered a more interesting diversity of ideologies than usual, with Sanders generally more at home with Green Party policies. By contrast to Sanders, Joe Biden portrays few solid convictions, beyond a sense of entitlement to the nomination. Steyer and late-emerger, multi-billionaire Bloomberg, were candidates closer to the ideological heart of today’s neoliberal Democratic Party. It’s a matter of bewilderment to us that Bloomberg has been described as a socialist in some quarters. Whether you see this description as complimentary or contemptuous, it’s certainly ludicrous. Notwithstanding his vast wealth and close Wall Street ties, Bloomberg’s unswerving commitment to balanced budgets and market forces place him on the hard economic right. While he holds some (undoubtedly) socially liberal positions, as New York mayor he also took certain authoritarian positions, especially regarding law and order. The more socially liberal Steyer, on the other hand, professes a late conversion from the economic values of his hedge fund past.

With the exception of Weld, there were few significant differences between Republican candidates. Weld, like the Libertarian Party’s Jo Jorgensen, has an especially strongly-held libertarian outlook on the economic scale. Jorgensen’s opposition to the Covid-19 lockdown as a social libertarian issue may be hotly debated during the campaign, although it’s a position more likely to win support in America than in any other western democracy.

While the Democratic nominee looks certain to be Biden, the successful Republican was never in doubt. The big surprise is that a majority of Christian fundamentalists favour the candidate that Jesus would almost certainly be least likely to choose. On the other hand, Trump’s extraordinary behaviour throughout the Corona-19 crisis might tempt more moderate GOP voters to opt for the comfortably conservative Biden.