Dems for Dummies: Your Guide to (some of) the 2020 Frontrunners

So, you’re not really a politics person. Elections can be a more than a little overwhelming, and maybe you just want to know the basics.

Although there aren’t many Republican candidates who have launched a presidential campaign as of now, there are quite a few Democrats in the race – so many that it can be hard to tell the difference between them. Whether you’re voting or not, it’s interesting and important to consider which candidates fit most with your views!

Here’s a helpful guide to how some of the Democratic frontrunners stand on key issues (and some bonus info, too) to help make sense of it all.

A key for the main issues:

🚫Gun Control
📚Cost of College
🌳Climate Change

Buttigieg is currently the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Mayor Pete!!! He’s the openly-gay, millennial candidate from Indiana. At first, it wasn’t looking too hopeful for this candidate, with older Democrat voters saying he was just too young to ever be seriously considered as a candidate.

As the race narrows, though, his popularity has become much more mainstream. As the ‘underdog’ candidate, many people are even comparing his campaign to Barack Obama’s in 2008.

Whether it’s his openness about his faith and marriage, or the smooth responses he gives when pressed about other candidates, he’s impressing a lot of voters. In fact, he was one of the first candidates to go on Fox News, a pretty right-leaning news source, for a town hall.

IS popular among liberal, millennial, and/or Gen Z voters.

Is NOT as popular among old white men and moderate voters.

🏥Free healthcare for anyone that can’t afford private health insurance, but people can keep their private health insurance if they want
🚫Wants to ban assault weapons. (this means not all guns, but semi/fully automatic ones)
📚College shouldn’t be free, but students shouldn’t have to take on debt
🌳Climate is a priority; he supports the Green New Deal
💰Supports a wealth tax on the rich
🚺Believes women have the right to choose; supports federal funding for abortion

Harris is currently a senator for California.

*As of December 3 2019, Kamala Harris is NO LONGER in the race.*

I guess if I had to describe Harris in non-political terms, she’s like the ~fun aunt~ of the race. If you follow any news accounts on Instagram, you may know her from when she called out Joe Biden over civil rights during the first Democratic debate.

She’s been vocal in her criticisms of the Trump administration, and has been one of the central voices in support of programs like DACA, which Trump has threatened. In particular, Kamala is also big advocate of women’s reproductive rights and has long been an LGBTQ+ advocate!

However, Kamala’s history as a prosecutor and district attorney has come under speculation. There are some aspects of her record that seem to show it as contradictory. Vox reports, “she refused to pursue the death penalty against a man who killed a police officer, but also defended California’s death penalty system in court. She implemented training programs to address police officers’ racial biases, but also resisted calls to get her office to investigate certain police shootings.”

IS popular among black and hispanic voters.

Is NOT as popular among liberals.

🏥Does NOT support Medicare for All (that’s not Obamacare, that’s a plan for universal free healthcare), and wants to expand on what exists
🚫Wants to ban assault weapons
📚College shouldn’t be free, but students should not have to take on debt
🌳Believes we should tax carbon emissions; supports the Green New Deal
💰Has not commented on a wealth tax as of now
🚺Believes women have the right to choose; supports federal funding for abortion

Warren is currently a senator for Massachusetts.

First of all. Elizabeth Warren’s dog. That is all.

In all seriousness, though, Elizabeth Warren is someone to watch out for in this race. If you want my personal opinion…. if I was old enough to vote, I’d be voting for her. This synopsis of her is obviously biased, so take this with a grain of salt, but she’s a candidate with concrete goals and ways to achieve them.

She is one of the more liberal candidates in the race, so policies are often considered more progressive compared to those of many of her more moderate counterparts – but, to me, what some consider ‘extreme’ may actually be what the country needs.

She has long been a supporter of women’s reproductive rights, climate action, and the LGBTQ+ community. As a bonus, her campaign is completely grassroots, and she doesn’t take any contributions from big corporations.

Is popular among millennials and liberals.

Is NOT as popular among Asian voters, billionaires, moderates.

🏥Supports Medicare for All, a program for universal free healthcare 🚫Wants to ban assault weapons
📚Believes college should be free
🌳Climate is a big priority, supports the Green New Deal
💰Supports a wealth tax on the rich
🚺Believes women have the right to choose; supports federal funding for abortion

Biden was formerly a senator for Delaware, and later Vice President of the US.

You probably know him as Barack Obama’s VP. Of the Democrats, Biden’s what you would call ‘middle-of-the-pack’ – he’s not super liberal, but not entirely moderate, either.

He has the attention of voters nostalgic for the safety of the Obama administration, but he’s also a pretty traditionalist boomer, so young people are moving away from voting for him.

IS popular among… I mean, boomers. Specifically, the white, upper-class ones who have consistently voted for the Democratic nominee in previous elections.

Is NOT as popular among asians and millennials. So probably not a hit with asian millennials.

🏥Supports Obamacare – wants to keep it and tweak it
🚫Wants to ban assault weapons
📚Thinks two years of college should be free
🌳Important, but definitely not his biggest priority – doesn’t support the Green New Deal
💰Tax the rich a little more, but generally not too much reform
🚺Opposed federal funding for abortion up until this year, but now says he supports it

Bernie was previously a member of the House of Representatives, then became a senator for Vermont in 2006.

Ah, Bern. Good old Bernie. Of all the candidates, I think he’s been the most consistent in his politics since the beginning of his political career. He has always been vocal in calling out racist, sexist, and anti-LGBT policies (and politicians), even when he was the only one doing so.

He’s the most liberal of the candidates; within the group of Democratic presidential hopefuls, he is the furthest left on the spectrum.

Is popular among millenials and liberals.

Is NOT as popular among black and asian voters, and older upper class whites.

🏥Strongly supports Medicare for All
🚫Wants to ban assault weapons
📚Believes college should be free
🌳Climate is a HUGE priority, strongly supports Green New Deal
💰Believes billionaires shouldn’t exist in a country where homelessness and poverty does, supports wealth tax on the rich
🚺Abortion is a woman’s right, any federal healthcare plan should fully cover abortions

Yang is an entrepreneur and lawyer.

Yang refers to himself as “the opposite of Donald Trump – an asian who likes math”. His most famous proposal is probably what he calls ‘The Freedom Dividend’ – basically, Yang proposes that every American family is given $1,000 per month.

Andrew’s a pretty ~cool guy~, honestly. Like, not in terms of politics, but generally. He plays DnD, rides a bike everywhere, swears at his rallies… you get the point. People like him because he’s relatable; he breaks out of the hyper-poised mold that a lot of the more traditionalist candidates haven’t been able to. He’s relatable.

Is popular among asian and/or millennial voters.

Is NOT as popular among party loyalists.

🏥Strongly supports Medicare for All
🚫Wants to ban assault weapons
📚Believes college shouldn’t be free
🌳Supports the Green New Deal
💰Does not support a wealth tax on the rich
🚺Believes women have the right to choose; supports federal funding for abortion

Gabbard is currently a senator for Hawaii.

Ok. Listen. I tried to be relatively impartial and for this article. I really did. But I’m… not too fond of Tulsi.

Tulsi is a former army National Guard major and the US’s first practicing Hindu senator. What sets her apart from much of the pool of candidates even more is that her views are pretty different from the other Democrats in the running. For one, she is not in support of Trump’s impeachment.

She has gained a lot of support, however, from non-Democrats. She’s been endorsed by Steve Bannon (Trump’s former chief strategist), and other conservative figures have said she has “libertarian instincts” and is “refreshing”.

Is popular among moderates and certain groups of Trump voters.

Is NOT as popular among liberals and millenials.

🏥Supports Medicare for All, but is also open to a part-government, part-private system
🚫 Wants to ban assault weapons
📚Believes college should be free
🌳Believes the Green New Deal is too “vague” but wants to take other climate action
💰Has not specified support for a wealth tax
🚺Supports federal funding for abortion, but believes abortion should be “rare”

Klobuchar is currently a senator for Minnesota.

Amy, like Biden, is the ‘safe’ candidate for many voters. She’s pretty moderate, and thinks a lot of the policies of her more liberal competitors are ‘too far left’.

According to Business Insider, the average Klobuchar-satisfied respondent said they were also satisfied with 7 other candidates, and would be willing to vote for any one of them. Only 4% of her supporters liked only Amy… which isn’t great news for her.

Is popular among party loyalists (older voters who have consistently voted Democratic)

Is NOT as popular among black, asian, millennial, and/or liberal voters

🏥Believes Medicare for All is ‘too far left’ and instead wants to expand on what already exists (Obamacare)
🚫Wants to ban assault weapons
📚Thinks two years of college should be free
🌳Sees the Green New Deal as ‘aspirational’ but supports it (thinks it needs adjustments)
💰Supports a wealth tax on the rich
🚺Believes it’s a woman’s right to choose, but does not support federal funding for abortions

The popularity polls of these candidates are constantly vacillating, particularly after each of the debates. Although Biden has consistently led in the polls a few percentage points ahead of the rest for some time, if 2016’s presidential election is any indication, there is really no way to predict what’ll happen in the next year. Things don’t always turn out how we might expect, and we can’t assume for sure that any one candidate will take the nomination — what we can do, though, is get involved in the conversation.

Author: Alysha Summerville

Editor-in-Chief and member of the Class of 2022, Alysha joined The Eye in 2019. Alysha was born in the UK, lives in Singapore, and calls Toronto home, but you can usually find her sitting in the middle chair in the Delfi Starbucks outdoor seating. That's home too. She's passionate about politics, filmmaking, Taylor Swift, Gujarati food, and Schitt's Creek (in no particular order), and you can reach her at

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