Having looked at the candidates in the Republican race, we turn our attention to the much smaller field of Democratic contenders. Ratings comparisons in this article sometimes compare candidates to those in that article.
- The first to announce was former First Lady (1993-2001), former New York Senator (2001-2009), and former Secretary of State (2009-2013) Hillary Clinton. She ran against Obama in the 2008 primary, but served in his cabinet and has been seen as his heir apparent, the “shoo-in” candidate on the Democratic side. For some time the race was stalled on the Democratic side because no one wanted to enter the race before knowing what she was going to do, but in April her candidacy was officially announced. She falls in the middle of the Democratic field on social issues, just left of center and well into the “moderate” range; economically she is more extreme, approaching socialist conceptions of a controlled economy.
- Although he identifies himself as an Independent and a Socialist, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was the second to announce an intention to seek the Democratic nomination. He has served in the Senate since 2007, and was in the House of Representatives prior to that back to 1991. He is generally regarded one of the nation’s leading progressives. Surprisingly he is more conservative socially than Clinton, but still near the moderate range, and he matches her rating on economic issues.
That is all the presently announced candidates, but there are about a dozen others who might be interested or are considered likely candidates:
- Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Governor since 2011 when he was the only governor not belonging to a major party but since joining the Democratic party, was once a one-term Republican Senator from that state before losing to a Democrat in 2006. His term as Governor ended at the beginning of 2015. He rates slightly more centrist socially (more conservative) than Clinton, almost as conservative of Rand Paul (most liberal of the Republicans on economic issues), and near the middle of the Democratic pack economically, considerably more conservative than the announced candidates, but far more controlling than any of the Republican candidates.
- Two-term Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, whose eight-year run ended at the beginning of 2015 due to term limits, is often mentioned as a possible contender and is expected to announce his intentions as early as this coming weekend. He won by strong margins in Maryland, but his lieutenant governor, whom he endorsed, lost to the Republican challenger. Socially he is the most centrist candidate in the race, landing between Republicans Rand Paul and Mitch Daniels; economically he is slightly more controlling than Chafee.
- Former one-term Virginia Senator Jim Webb (2007, did not seek re-election in 2012) is also mentioned. He falls to the conservative side of all the Democrats mentioned so far, between O’Malley and Republican Daniels socially, almost as free-market oriented as the least of the Republicans, Susana Martinez.
- Former two-term Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer retired because of term limits in 2013, and is also frequently named here. He is slightly more conservative socially and somewhat less free-market oriented than Webb, on par socially with Daniels, more economically controlling than Chafee.
- Vice President and former Delaware Senator Joe Biden has pointedly not excluded the possibility that he might run, and there are some in the party that support him if only to give Clinton serious competition. He is as liberal socially as Sanders, but economically more moderate, between Chafee and Schweitzer.
- Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren might be drafted; there is a strong move to put her on the ballot and even though she was among those encouraging a Clinton run her staff says she should not be counted out. She took the Senate seat in 2013. Comparable to Biden and Sanders socially, she is significantly more progressive/controlling economically than Sanders.
- Mark Warner, former governor of and current (since 2008) Senator from Virginia, is sometimes mentioned, but has made no comments himself; his record is more aligned with a moderate Republican than a moderate Democrat, more conservative than Carly Fiorina socially, almost as conservative as Rick Santorum economically, and the most conservative Democrat in the field.
- Current Secretary of State John Kerry ran unsuccessfully for President in 2004 and denies that he is interested in trying again, but the long-time Senator from Massachusetts (1984-2013) is frequently named as a possibility. He is extremely liberal socially, significantly more than Biden, and slightly more liberal than Warren economically.
- Current (since 2011) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also stated he is not running; he is rated slightly less socially conservative than Clinton, slightly less economically conservative than Biden.
- Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, appointed to fill Clinton’s vacated seat in 2009, says she is a Clinton supporter; she rates with Sanders, Warren, and Biden on social issues, slightly less progressive than Clinton or Sanders on economic ones.
- Minnesota Senator (since 2006) Amy Kobuchar says she is focused on representing her own state, but still appears among the lists of possible candidates. Her ratings match those of Brian Schweitzer on both social and economic issues.
- Former Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich ran before, but says he is not running again; he is an extreme liberal, between Biden and Kerry on the social scale but economically favoring government intrusion in everything, beyond even Kerry.
We should also mention Jill Stein, not a Democrat and not a present or previous office holder, but the Green Party candidate in 2012 who might appear again in 2016. She garnered almost half a million votes, 0.4% of the total, in the 2012 race. She ties Kucinech on economic control, and on social issues is slightly more liberal than he, but not so much so as Kerry.
That is the Democratic field as it currently stands; we covered the Republicans in a previous article.
Assessments of candidate positions based on On the Issues’s VoteMatch.