Carly O’Neill
Associate News Editor

With 2020 less than a year away, it is time to be more politically conscious than ever, and visit the question of who’s running in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

Capitol Hill is currently divided with a Democratic majority in the House and a GOP majority in the Senate, making this election crucial for both parties.

With currently fifteen Democrats and two Republicans now officially announced in the race, it is time to put faces to names and names to possible future leaders of the United States of America.

Among the front running Democratic candidates include current moderate Senator from California, former attorney general of Ca., and former San Francisco district attorney, Kamala Harris.

Harris will use her time served as an attorney to take an “evidence-based approach to law and politics” according to Politico, to combat President Donald Trump’s inaccuracy during his term. She plans to enact the “College for All Act” if elected, allowing free tuition for most Americans at a four-year public college. Harris also hopes to lift the Middle Class Act, which would create a direct tax break for the middle and lower class. She is also advocating for universal pre-K and immigration reform.

Bernie Sanders, current Senator from Vermont and former congressman is no stranger to his presidential campaign efforts. As the runner-up in the 2016 Democratic Primary, Sanders is doing well in recent polls, just barely trailing behind former Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to announce his candidacy. Sanders, the Democratic Socialist, will be focusing his efforts on Medicare-for-All, free college tuition, the Green New Deal, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and raising taxes on the wealthy.

Elizabeth Warren, current Senator from Massachusetts and identified capitalist, has also announced her candidacy. Warren’s focus if elected will be to uphold the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, by banning Congress and White House staff from owning individual stocks while in office. This Act would also require presidential candidates to release eight years of their tax returns to the public, as reported by Christina Wilkie for CNBC.

Warren is a strong supporter of the rights of workers, and introduced the Accountable Capitalism Act in 2018. This Act would require “that employees be given seats at the board of directors of some of the nation’s biggest companies” According to CNBC. She has also endorsed Medicare-for-All, the Green New Deal, a $15 minimum wage, and higher taxes on the wealthy.

Beto O’Rourke, the moderate former congressman from Texas, has made a name for himself when he came within a three point margin of defeating Ted Cruz in the Texas Senate election. O’Rourke has made it a point to speak out against the wall and if elected will focus his presidency on immigration reform by supporting the Dream Act. He is endorsing stricter gun control laws, marijuana legalization, raising the minimum wage to $15, and criminal justice.

Due to his own misfortunes in his 20s, O’Rourke believes in second chances and advocates for rehabilitation for offenders recently released from prison, including restoring their right to vote, as Maggie Astor states in The New York Times. He also hopes to eliminate bail and opposes the death penalty.

Other Democratic candidates to be reckoned with include former mayor of Newark, and current moderate New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. He has his visions set on tackling criminal justice reform, by introducing the Reverse Mass Incarceration Act in 2017.

This bill would offer $20 billion in federal grant money to essentially cut prison populations and encourage low crime rates. He is also a strong advocate for a nationwide legalization of marijuana, Medicare-for-All, the Green New Deal, and a job guarantee bill.

Current Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg is testing the waters and if elected, will become the youngest openly gay president ever at 37-years-old. He wants to be a fresh voice for the Millennial generation.

Former housing secretary and Mayor of San Antonio, Julián Castro, plans on focusing his efforts on universal health care, pre-kindergarten for all, and criminal justice and immigration reform.

John Delaney, a former congressman from Maryland, is continuing his efforts in running for president as the first politician to announce his candidacy back in 2017. As a businessman himself, he plans on restoring the gap dividing the two parties and ensuring that everyone has an equally fair chance in the competitive job market.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii, is centering her campaign around foreign policy. As an Iraq War veteran with much experience in foreign affairs, she hopes to reduce the American military’s interference overseas, mainly in Afghanistan and Syria.

Former congresswoman and current moderate Senator of New York, Kirsten Gillibrand is running in 2020. Gillibrand’s motto, as she puts it, “I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own.” She is known as the #MeToo Senator for her focus on advancing women in the workplace and tackling sexual assault within the military, college campuses, and Congress.

Gillibrand also supports eliminating corruption within the government. She wrote and Passed the Stock Act back in 2012, which makes it illegal for members of congress to profit from insider trading.

Amy Klobuchar is the current moderate Senator from Minnesota and former Hennepin County, Minn., attorney. Klobuchar is setting herself apart from her opponents by centralizing her efforts on taking on big tech, and guaranteeing consumer protection. She wants companies like Facebook and Twitter to have to answer to identities being stolen and individual’s data being mined.

On a county level Klobuchar hopes to make drunk driving a felony in Hennepin. As for the Senate, she is advocating for abortion rights, sweeping legislation in green jobs in infrastructure, and called for the president to rejoin the Paris Agreement.  

Other opposing democratic candidates include: Self-help author, Marianne Williamson; Former tech executive, Andrew Yang; Former Governor of Colorado and former mayor of Denver, John Hickenlooper; and current Governor of Washington State and former congressman, Jay Inslee.

As for the Republicans, the two leading frontrunners include current President Donald J. Trump, and former governor of Massachusetts and federal prosecutor, William F. Weld.

Weld has been highly critical of Trump’s deportation policies and is in support of the federal government issuing more H1B visas. Weld might just have what it takes to appeal to moderate Republicans who feel alienated from their party, according to Alexander Burns in The New York Times.

As candidates start competing for the public’s approval, campaigning fearlessly to replace Trump as the next presidential leader, it is important to keep in mind key factors such as: party platforms, conservative priorities, and voter turnouts.

Associate Professor of Government and Political Affairs at Millersville, Adam Lawrence was able to provide some insight into these main topics brought up at the kickoff of the 2020 campaign trail.

As the main Republican candidate frontrunner, Lawrence believes President Donald Trump will focus his campaign on the same policies he supported back in 2016, including: cracking down on immigration policies and deporting undocumented immigrants, building a wall along the southern border of U.S. and Mexico, lowering taxes for the middle class, reducing federal regulations, imposing tariffs on imports, and repealing or possibly replacing the Affordable Care Act.

As for where conservatives stand, Lawrence thinks as of today, there is a good reason to believe Independents will be more influenced to cast their vote for the primary Democratic nominee rather than President Trump.

The best way of measuring Presidential approval ratings to determine the voting intentions of Independents in 2020 is through the Gallup Poll, according to Lawrence.

“Based on the Gallup Poll conducted March 1-10, 33 percent of Independents approve of President Trump’s performance in office. Whether the Democrat will be able to win 67 percent, or anything close to that, depends on whom they nominate” Lawrence states.

He elaborates the best chance Democrats have at bringing over more conservatives during their campaigning is by nominating a moderate-to-somewhat-liberal candidate who is well-liked among the general public.

Regarding higher voter turnout among young adults in 2020, Lawrence breaks down the statistics over the past recent years. Voter turnout in the 18-29 year-old age group has remained fairly consistent over the past presidential elections. The highest voter turnout amongst young people was during Obama’s presidential race in 2008, with a high of 51 percent who voted and 49 percent who did not.

In 2012 these figures shrunk to only 45 percent and in 2016 only increased by 1 percent. Contrastingly, 71 percent of the 65 and up age demographic, and 66 percent of those between 45-64 made their contribution by voting that year. This data points to a projected low voter turnout among young adults in 2020.

Adam Lawrence concludes this presidential discussion with an impactful message to Millersville students:

“Imagine how different our politics would be – how much more attention our elected officials would pay toward the issues, causes, and concerns of young people – if voter turnout among those ages 18 to 29 were just, say, 20 percent higher. It would be, as the saying goes, a ‘game changer.’”