2020 Democratic Candidates: Where Do They Stand on Key Policy Issues? - Rolling Stone
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The RS Politics 2020 Democratic Primary Policy Guide

Where every current candidate stand on health care, the climate crisis, closing the wealth gap, and more

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Matthew Putney/AP/Shutterstock; Paul Sancya/AP/Shutterstock; Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

The collection of Democrats vying to win the party’s nomination to take on President Trump in 2020 is larger and more diverse than any group of White House hopefuls since the modern primary process began. The field of two dozen candidates includes six senators, two mayors, a member of the House of Representatives, a governor, a handful of former lawmakers, a former vice president, a former tech executive, a self-help guru, five women, six people of color, and a 37-year-old trying to become America’s first LGBTQ president.

Just as diverse are the candidates’ prescriptions for how to cure the United States of its worsening case of Trumpism. The more progressive wing of the party, led by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, is calling for a single-payer health care system while pushing for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Moderate Democrats, led by Joe Biden, prefer a more tempered stance focused on formulating bipartisan solutions they argue are more practical. Others, like former tech executive Andrew Yang, who has called for a “Freedom Dividend” that would give every American $1,000 per month, are hoping Democratic voters are willing to embrace a more outside-the-box approach.

Below is a guide to where every current candidate stands on a variety of crucial issues. Scroll through at your convenience or click a candidate’s name to jump directly to their policy positions. For a look at where the candidates stand in the marathon horse race to secure the party’s nomination, check out the RS Politics 2020 Democratic Primary Leaderboard. Both guides will be updated as the primary progresses and candidates continue to develop policy positions.


Mayor of Miramar, Florida and Democratic candidate for United States President Wayne Messam addresses members of the New Hampshire Young Democrats at A&E Coffee / Apotheca Flower and Tea Shoppe in Goffstown, New Hampshire, USA 21 May 2019. Messam, the son of Jamaican immigrants, is on a two day campaign swing through New Hampshire, the first state to hold a primary for the 2020 Presidential election.Mayor of Miramar, Florida and Democratic candidate for United States President Wayne Messam, campaigns in New Hampshire, Goffstown, USA - 21 May 2019

Wayne Messam

Free College

The tentpole of Messam’s campaign is his proposal to cancel all $1.5 trillion of outstanding student loan debt. “It is time for the federal government to cancel all federal and private student loans,” his website reads. “This one-time policy would boost the annual GDP between $86 billion and $108 billion and create 1 million to 1.5 million new jobs each year.”

Messam’s plan calls for all 44 million Americans with outstanding student loan debt to be informed of its relief within 60 days. The United States Treasury would pay off the debt. Messam argues that lifting this economic burden off tens of millions of Americans would outweigh the financial cost to the nation, which he says would ultimately be paid for by canceling the Trump’s tax cut for the wealthy that was passed in 2017.


Messam has said he supports the idea of Medicare-for-All, and is open to a system that retains the private insurance industry. “As President, I will be open to ideas to fix a broken system that right now does more to protect the bottom line of insurance and pharmaceutical companies than protecting patients,” his website reads.

Closing the Wealth Gap

Messam has proposed canceling the Trump administration’s 2017 tax cut for the wealthy. He tweeted in June that all Americans “should earn a wage that allows them to meet their basic needs.”

The Climate Crisis

Messam told the Washington Post that he supports “the urgency and the end goal” of the Green New Deal, but has said that he will unveil his own climate policy. He was also one of 407 mayors to sign a pledge to uphold the principles of the Paris climate accord despite President Trump’s decision to remove the United States from the agreement.


Messam has been strong on gun safety, and has often cited the shooting at Parkland, which is less than 50 miles away from his home of Miramar, in calling for reform. His goals as president are pretty ambitious: “It will be my goal as your President to cut gun deaths in half by the end of my first term, with the goal to eliminate this threat entirely by the end of my presidency,” his website reads.

Foreign Policy

Though he hasn’t offered many specifics, Messam has said that “we need to change course, rebuild our fractured alliances and lead by example” on the global stage. He has also advocated for a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.


Messam has said that America’s immigration system needs to be overhauled. “Washington had failed the American people when it comes to immigration,” he told CBS in April, adding that “when we have a process and a political will in place to ensure comprehensive immigration reform, we will be able to subside some of the issues that we are currently seeing right now.”

Legal Weed

Messam has said that states should be able to legalize marijuana without interference from the federal government.

Abolishing the Electoral College

Messam believes the Electoral College should be abolished. “It’s very rare that I will say this, but Donald Trump was correct. He once called the electoral college a ‘disaster for democracy.’ Boy, was he right,” Messam told the Washington Post. “If we believe [every vote counts], we shouldn’t have a system where a candidate can lose by three million votes and somehow be declared the winner.”

Packing the Supreme Court

Messam is open to the idea of adding justices to the Supreme Court. “Make no mistake, the court is already packed,” he told the Washington Post. “If Senator McConnell chooses to play by a different set of rules, as he so often does, then so will I.”

Reproductive Rights

“As President, I will vigorously defend the a woman’s right to choose and nominate a @USSupremeCourt justice that recognizes his question became settled law in 1973,” Messam tweeted in May.

Voting Rights

“Across this country, voting rights are under attack as politicians create barriers that make it harder for people to register to vote and cast their ballots, cut back early voting, and engage in unconstitutional acts of voter suppression,” Messam’s website reads, adding that “we must protect Americans’ right to vote regardless of economic and societal status — not limit participation in the democratic process and discriminate against our own people.”

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