Do you really know what sets your favorite candidate ideologically apart, on a conservative-versus-liberal scale, from the herd of others in the fast-approaching 2016 presidential election?
A new method of rating candidates' ideological stances by Crowdpac
assigns sliding scale numerical ratings to each of the 25 candidates potentially seeking (no one has officially announced yet) the White House two years from now.
The picture Crowdpac paints of the leading contenders has them grouped much closer ideologically than you might expect, in some cases, and includes some surprising results as to who really is the most conservative, who is the most liberal, and which pairs among the candidates can't claim a nickel's worth of difference in how they view the political spectrum.
CNN, for example, notes that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is considered by progressive liberals to be a little too cozy with Wall Street for their taste, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, who has taken the Senate lead in seeking tighter regulation over America's financial giants, are actually very close on how they view the economy, with Clinton rating a 5.0 on Crowdpac's scale and Warren a 4.9.
They also virtually overlap on immigration and healthcare, but diverge when it comes to defense and foreign policy and intelligence and surveillance, with Clinton scoring more conservative than Warren.
The Crowdpac method, CNN reports
, combines a politician's voting record and position on 15 major issues, plus campaign donation sources, to come up with both an overall conservative/liberal ranking, and an issue-by-issue ranking.
By far, the most conservative among those who want to be president is Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, who posts a perfect 10 score on the conservative scale, just ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, with a 9.7, and well ahead of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, with a 6.7 score.
The most moderate, middle-of-the-road Republican candidate is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, with a score of 2.5, making him the least conservative among Republican contenders, Crowdpac notes.
Most liberal of all is Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, with an 8.3 rating on the Crowdpac scale, but he's bumping right into Warren, who rates an 8.2.
Overall, Clinton rates a 6.4 score, placing her just slightly more liberal than several other candidates, while Vice President Joe Biden comes in at 4.4, making him the least liberal of other potential Democrat contenders.
Surprisingly, there's almost no difference at all between two leading Republican contenders, former candidate Mitt Romney and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Both men land near the middle on the conservative/liberal scale, with Bush ranking at 4.2 and Romney ranking at a slightly more conservative 5.0, diverging only significantly on healthcare, with Romney considered slightly more liberal than Bush, and on immigration, considered a Bush weak point among strong conservatives, with Romney posting a 4.7 rating and Bush only a slightly more liberal 4.1.
Crowdpac CEO Steven Hilton told CNN that Bush is "actually more conservative than a lot of people are assuming. The data we have suggests he's much more in line with the (Republican) average than people are thinking."
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