Progressive Scorecard Highlights Policy Gap Between Clinton and Sanders

Clinton’s weakness on Wall Street reform, intervention and military spending could explain difficulty in engaging the party’s activists

LISTEN: Teleconference on the Populism 2015 Candidate Scorecard featuring Robert Borosage of the Campaign for America’s Future and Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners.

Washington, D.C., October 8, 2015 – The Campaign for America’s Future, a progressive center of research and action, today released its Populism 2015 Candidate Scorecard, rating the Democratic presidential candidates.

Bernie Sanders leads the field in the scorecard, with Martin O’Malley and Hillary Clinton trailing close behind. Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb lag farther behind, largely because their campaigns have yet to detail their platforms.

“This is a unique tool for progressives. We only awarded points for concrete, current policy proposals that address the nation’s most urgent problems,” said Robert Borosage, co-director of CAF.

Clinton scored well on many issues, particularly on immigration and education. Her score was bolstered when she announced her opposition Wednesday to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. However, she lags behind Sanders for weak or nonexistent plans to create more affordable housing and cut defense spending. She opposes breaking up the big banks, reviving the Glass-Steagall limits on financial institutions and imposing a financial transaction tax.

What the scorecard demonstrates, however, is less the gap between Sanders and Clinton than the extent to which all of the major Democratic contenders have pushed populist economic reforms.

All three leading candidates have plans to raise taxes on the rich, make corporations pay their fair share and limit the capital gains tax breaks for investors. All support an increased federal minimum wage, paid family leave and curbing the role of big money in politics.

“These reforms – on money and politics, on trade, on progressive tax reforms, on taking on Wall Street – are popular with most Americans, but unpopular among elites. Finally, candidates are getting that message,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners.

The scorecard measured candidates against the Populism 2015 platform released earlier this year by the Campaign for America’s Future, National People’s Action, the Alliance for a Just Society, Working America and the Working Families Party.

Together, these organizations represent over 2 million members, with chapters in 18 states.

The scorecard, available at candidatescorecard.net, is being distributed by email and in a national online advertising effort ahead of the first presidential debate.

It will be updated frequently thereafter. Activists will be pressing candidates on their positions in the lead up to the early primaries.

Statement of Robert Borosage on the Populism 2015 Candidate Scorecard

Today, the Campaign for America’s Future is releasing its Candidates Scorecard, which scores Democratic candidates on a core populist agenda. For those of you at your computers or phones, it is available at candidatescorecard.net.

Not surprisingly, Bernie Sanders gains the highest scores of the field, with Martin O’Malley second and Hillary Clinton a close third. Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb lag far behind, largely because their campaigns have not begun to fill out their platforms.

Sanders lead is built on his clear support for major reforms – on breaking up the big banks, Medicare for All, enhancing Social Security benefits, taking on climate change, curbing big money in politics, cutting military spending and opposing costly interventions abroad.

Clinton scored well on many issues, particularly on election reform, immigration and criminal justice reform. Her recent opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership bolstered her score. On housing and nutrition programs, her scores will rise as she elaborates her platform.

That Sanders leads the others was to be expected, but most striking is the extent to which all the major candidates have endorsed populist economic and political reforms. All three leading candidates have plans to raise taxes on the rich, crack down on corporate tax havens and loopholes, and limit capital gains tax breaks for investors. All support raising the minimum wage, paid family leave and paid vacation, and empowering workers to organize and bargain collectively. All call for curbing the role of big money in politics. All favor action on climate change and a larger public investment in infrastructure and R&D. The contrast with the Republican field is stark and clear.

The growing populist movement in this country is driving this debate. The Sanders surge reflects that. But so does the movement of mainstream politicians – Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley – to embrace bolder populist political and economic reforms. All of these candidates accept the reality that this economy is working only for the few. And that isn’t an accident or an act of nature. It is because the rules have been rigged and the deck is stacked against most Americans. And that has to change.

Let me say a word about the scorecard. It measures candidates against the Populism 2015 platform released earlier this year, before the campaign began, by the Campaign for America’s Future, National People’s Action, the Alliance for a Just Society, Working America and the Working Families Party. Together, these organizations represent over 2 million members, and nearly 1,000 organizers, with chapters in 20 states.

The scorecard provides a unique, user-friendly resource. We award points for concrete, current policy proposals that address the nation’s most urgent problems. In each area, we describe the criteria and then provide links to each candidate’s appropriate speech or platform item, providing a handy resource for reporters, bloggers, activists and interested citizens.

The scorecard, available at candidateascorecard.net, is being distributed by email and in a national online advertising effort ahead of the first presidential debate.

It will be updated frequently thereafter. Activists will be pressing candidates on their positions in the lead up to the early primaries. And scores will change as candidates continue to elaborate their platforms.