Analyzing clarity, transparency in candidates

As a first-time voter, here’s how I see the leading candidates on both sides of the political spectrum.


PaigeGrossAs a first time-presidential voter, I’m excited to watch the political circus that will unfold over the next year as we draw nearer to the 2016 presidential election. In order to vote with certainty, though, we have to wade through the constant information being thrown at us from various sources and mediums. This is an assessment on the current front runners, according to the most recent CNN polls. How easy is it to find where they stand? How do they present themselves? Where do they stand on some important issues for young voters?

Hilary Clinton (D) 47%

Minimum Wage: Clinton supports a higher minimum wage, but hasn’t supported a particular figure yet.

Economy: Clinton prioritizes catering to the working class and her tax plan includes relief for working families.

Education: Part of Clinton’s plan for working families is to make college “affordable and attainable.”

Reproductive Rights: Pro-choice

Conclusion: Finding out where Clinton stands was fairly easy—her site is easy to navigate and answered most of my questions. She is active on social media, but her biggest battle seems to be the “email scandal,” leaving some voters feeling like she can’t be trusted. I think Clinton’s campaign videos show her trying to be the cool aunt that knows what’s “hip.”

Bernie Sanders (D) 29%

Minimum Wage: Sanders favors a program that will gradually raise the hourly wage to $15.

Economy: Sanders’ goal is to reduce income and wealth inequality between the classes, focusing heavier taxes for the wealthy.

Education: Sanders wants to increase federal spending to lower the cost of tuition.

Reproductive rights: Pro-choice

Conclusion: His supporters are big Twitter users, going so far as to make #debatewithbernie a trend in the hours after the Aug. 6 republican debate. Sanders is catering to the hyper-liberal crowd, promoting his ideas through various social mediums and his interactive site. I feel like he’d shake my hand and say “call me Bernie” and maybe give me his cell number in case I wanted to chat.

Martin O’Malley (D) 2%

Minimum Wage: O’Malley favors raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour:

Economy: O’Malley wants to cut poverty in half, through greater investments in communities, public education and critical programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit that “help families get and stay on their feet.” He also said he wants to “restore competition to our economy.”

Education: He aims to make college debt-free and modernize high schools so all graduates leave with some college credit.

Reproductive rights: Pro-choice

Conclusion: O’Malley seems to be somewhere between Clinton and Sanders on the democratic scale, and his information was relatively easy to find. He might have a decent shot at the nomination if voters decide they don’t want anything to do with the leading candidates in a few months.

Donald Trump (R) 24%

Minimum Wage: Trump has mentioned the possibility of two minimum wages, one for younger people and another wage for older workers. No specific amounts have been mentioned, but he generally does not support a high wage.

Economy: We don’t know much about his plan other than that he “vows to make America great again.”

Education: Trump believes education should be less of a federal issue, knocking down the Common Core program and asking that education be left to local control.

Reproductive rights: Pro-life “with exceptions.”

Conclusion: It’s hard to believe that Trump will win the nomination. The current appeal for some is his anti-establishment mentality and his lack of political experience, which does quite the opposite for me. I worry about his lack of specifics, and his site tells us next to nothing about his stances. I can’t take him seriously and I think his brash attitude shows off his inflated ego and lack of class.

Ben Carson (R) 11%

Minimum Wage: Carson supports a slightly higher minimum wage but has not mentioned a specific figure; “[a higher wage] is a way for individuals to be removed from public assistance programs.”

Economy: Carson wants to simplify the tax code and restore fiscal responsibility to the federal government’s budget.

Education: Carson aims to make education a local issue, calling for the involvement of parents and teachers for success.

Reproductive rights: “Unabashedly and entirely” pro-life.

Conclusion: Carson’s site lacked clarity and structure and reinforced the idea that he isn’t a politician. He’s gaining a lot of attention in the same way Trump is, by claiming to not be a “career politician,” but I’m left wondering how his ability to perform surgery has anything to do with how he’ll handle foreign policy.

Ted Cruz (R) 7.3%

Minimum Wage: Cruz believes a raise in wage would lead to job loss across the nation.

Economy: In his time in Senate, Cruz promoted his pro-growth agenda, the American Energy Renaissance Act, which focuses on empowering the private sector.

Education: He believes that the Common Core should be repealed and says students should be able to receive the best education for them, whether it be in a private, public or charter school system.

Reproductive rights: Pro-life.

Conclusion: Cruz’s site won’t let me past the home page unless I sign up for emails about his campaign. He has a decent presence on Twitter, but every other tweet is about his goal to defund planned parenthood—a valuable resource to many college students. He’s the only republican front-runner with some experience in government which might be his only saving grace.

Paige Gross can be reached at or on Twitter @By_paigegross.

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