How Do the Presidential Primary Candidates Stack Up?

“Under every stone lurks a politician.”  — Aristophanes

whitehouse-ASome of you may remember back in October, when I posted a table of several (potential) candidates for Speaker of the House and their scores from several thinktanks. Well, I thought it might be both fun and educational to do the same for the Presidential primary candidates of both major parties (+ Bernie). Well, as best I could, anyway, since most scorecards are only given for legislators, and they don’t always go back far enough for a particular candidate’s years in office.

First, let’s begin with those currently serving in Congress — including Graham, even though he has already dropped out of the race — and most of those who served in the past. As before, these are the lifetime — or, barring that, most current session available — scores from the following (mostly) conservative thinktanks/organizations. (Note that I replaced the SBEC with the NTU.):

HA = Heritage Action; lifetime, 2011-present
CfG = Club for Growth; lifetime, 2005-present
ACU = American Conservative Union; lifetime, 1971?-2014
FW = FreedomWorks; lifetime, 2005-present
AfP = American for Prosperity; lifetime, 2007-present
[No more scorecards from Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBEC); old ones not archived.]
CSP = Center for Security Policy; 2013-2014
NUSA = NumbersUSA; 1989-present
CR = Conservative Review; Liberty Score is based on the top 50 votes over the past six years.
NTU = National Taxpayers Union; 1992-present

# All numeric scores based on possible 100. #

  Date 1st Assumed Office HA CfG ACU FW AfP CfSP NUSA CR NTU
Clinton (D-NY) 01/03/01 N/a 3 8.13 15 4 N/a N/a N/a F
Cruz (R-TX) 01/03/13 98 96 100 98 98 100 A+ A 97% A
Graham (R-SC) 01/03/95 52 74 87.31 70 81 33.33 D+ F 37% C+
*Kasich (R-OH) 01/03/83 N/a N/a 88.39 N/a N/a N/a N/a N/a B+
Paul (R-KY) 01/03/11 93 98 98 99 93 86.67 A- A 94% A
Rubio (R-FL) 01/03/11 91 93 98 88 98 60 D+ C 79% B+
Sanders (I-VT) 01/03/91 10 7 6.2 8 5 13.33 D F 15% F
Santorum (R-PA) 01/03/91 N/a 77 88.15 73 N/a N/a N/a N/a B+

* As per a Club for Growth paper I found on,

“Kasich’s time in Congress was prior to the Club for Growth’s annual scorecard. However, the Cato Institute, a free market think tank, produces a biennial scorecard on the nation’s governors based on their tax and spending policies and actions. Kasich’s grades were: 2012 – “B” and 2014 – “D”. In addition, in 1992, the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) began providing an annual scorecard that rates members of Congress on “reducing spending and opposing higher taxes.” Kasich scored a “B” during the first three years of NTU’s scorecard (1992-1994), and again in 1997. He tallied three “A” grades during the ensuing years and “B+” grades during his final two years in Congress (1999-2000)…. State spending in Ohio has increased significantly since Governor Kasich’s first budget, leading the CATO Institute, in 2014, to give Kasich “the worst score of any governor in the country on spending.””

Mark Twain on imbeciles in govtAs I was researching the above, I found some helpful scores for not only Senators and Representatives (inc. one almost-ran) but for the governors and others in the race who have never been in Congress — including many of those who already suspended their campaigns. First, we have the abovementioned Cato Institute (2014, libertarian). Then, we have Crowdpac (neutral), whose “[s]cores fall along a liberal/conservative spectrum, with 10L being the most liberal and 10C being the most conservative. A score of zero would indicate a political moderate.” Finally, we have the Leadership Project for America PAC (conservative), which “rates candidates in light of three broad categories: character, leadership skills and commitment to limited constitutional government. The organization also factors in vulnerability/electability issues.”

Note: For the governors, I included their years in office.

  Cato Crowdpac LPA PAC
Biden (D) N/a 4.5L F 44%
Bush (R) ’99-’07 N/a 5.1C B+ 87%
Carson (R) N/a 7.5C B- 82%
Chafee (D) ’11-’15 57 B 0.3L F 51%
Christie (R) ’10-pr. 56 B 3.4C D 67%
Clinton (D) N/a 6.5L F 37%
Cruz (R) N/a 9.5C B 85%
Cuomo (D) ’11-pr. 57 B 5.5L F 42%
Fiorina (R) N/a 7.0C B- 81%
Graham (R) N/a 4.6C C+ 77%
Huckabee (R) ’96-’07 N/a 6.7C D 64%
Jindal (R) ’08-’16 56 B 4.8C B 85%
Kasich (R) ’11-pr. 44 D 4.0C C+ 77%
O’Malley (D) ’07-’15 45 D 6.7L F 41%
Pataki (R) ’95-’06 N/a 1.1C F 56%
Paul (R) N/a 10C C 76%
Perry (R) ’00-’15 58 B 7.0C B 84%
Rubio (R) N/a 6.5C A- 91%
Sanders (I) N/a 7.6L F 39%
Santorum (R) N/a 4.8C C+ 78%
Trump (R) N/a 0.4L F 55%
Walker (R) ’11-pr. 58 B 8.8C A- 91%
Webb (D) N/a 5.4L F 57%


Fascinating comparisons, eh? I found the Crowdpac scores particularly interesting, and all scores for the 3 “outsiders” (i.e., Carson, Fiorina, & Trump) were especially helpful.  (Note that Trump is essentially a Left-leaning moderate like Chafee, though that shouldn’t be much of a surprise.) These tables have helped me see better how the candidates “stack up” against one another on various concerns, and I hope they serve as an aid to you, as well.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline