With the 2020 Primary and General Election Inching Closer, Here’s a Breakdown of the Top Democratic Candidates

nbcnews.com

nbcnews.com

Josh Hobbs

According to Pew research, 1 in 10 eligible voters in this year’s general election will be members of Generation Z (which consists of people born from 1995 to 2015). The most recent data shows that the Generation Z makes up at 74 million Americans. Combine this number with the amount of Millennials in the United States (estimated 71 million Americans), it will make up the largest voting block in the general election, with approximately 40% of the votes. 

Last general election saw one of the lowest voter turnouts in modern history, with only 56% of registered voters showed up in November, according to CNN. These trends finally started to turn positive during the 2018 midterms, when 31% of young eligible voters ages 18 to 29 turned out to vote in the 2018 midterms, which was the highest turnout in decades according to The Atlantic. 

With these numbers trending in a positive direction, lets focus on what the key issues are for both Millennials and Generation X, going into the Connecticut Primary, and the General Election. We will also look at what each of the top Democratic candidates are proposing for each of these issues. For the purposes of this article, we will include six candidates who are currently polling above 5%.  

 

Climate Change

A report from the Cause and Social Influence Initiative found that climate change was the top issue for Generation Z and Millenials. Young people are concerned about the future of this planet and the devastating impact climate change will bring according to the latest science. 

Candidates Climate Change
Bernie Sanders Transform the energy system to 100% renewable, and create 20 million jobs. Help transition fossil fuel workers to new jobs. Insure environmental justice for at risk groups. Save American families money with modern infrastructure, public transportation, high-speed internet. Reduce emissions around the world. Rejoin the Paris Agreement. Invest in public conservation of public lands. 
Joe Biden  

Ensure that the U.S. achieves 100% clean energy economy and reaches net zero emissions no later than 2050. Build a stronger more resilient nation and rally the rest of the world to meet the threat of climate change. Stand up to the abuse of power by polluters who harm communities of color and low-income communities the most. Fulfill our obligations to workers and communities who powered are Industrial Revolution and subsequent decades of economic growth. 

Elizabeth Warren  

Supporter of Green New Deal with 100% clean energy. By 2028, 0% carbon pollution for all new commercial and residential buildings. By 2030, 100% zero emissions for all vehicles. By 2025, 100% renewable energy.

Pete Buttiegieg  

By 2025 double the clean electricity generated in the United States. By 2035 go to clean electricity system with zero emissions and requires zero new emissions for all new passenger vehicles. My 2040 require net zero new emissions for all new heavy-duty vehicles, ships and aircraft. Develop a thriving carbon removal industry. By 2050, achieve net zero emissions from industry including steel and concrete manufacturing and agriculture. Enact a price on carbon and send rebates to Americans. 

Andrew Yang Yang believes the right time to deal with the crisis was decades ago, and the U.S needs to act fast with all options on the table. Yang’s plan includes transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewables, upgrading infrastructure, improving the way we farm, and using American imagination to build a stable world. To deal with the damage already done, we need to move people to higher ground, capture carbon from the atmosphere and pass a constitutional amendment that requires to help the environment. 
Amy Klobuchar  

Get the United States back in the international climate agreement on day one. Bring back and strengthen clean power rules and gas mileage standards that the Obama Administration put into place. Put forward sweeping legislation that provides a landmark investment in clean energy jobs and infrastructure, provides incentives for tougher building codes, promotes rural renewable energy and development, supports a landmark carbon pricing system that does not have a regressive impact on Americans, and promotes “buy clean” policies, and puts our country on the path to achieving 100% net zero emissions no later than 2050. 

 

College Affordability

College costs have gone up by about 360% since the year 2000. As most high school new voters are heading to the polls, they are also trying to figure out how to pay for the most expensive college tuitions in American History. Student loan debt is now a problem for almost 45 million people. It is keeping young people from buying homes or starting their lives. 

Candidates College Affordability
Bernie Sanders Guarantee college tuition, and debt-free public college and universities. Including HBCUs and trade schools. Cancel all student loan debt for 45 million Americans and place a cap on student loan interest rate going forward at 1.88%. Ensure students can cover non-tuition costs, by expanding Pell grants, and tripling funding for work-study programs. 
Joe Biden  

Invest in our schools to eliminate the funding gap between white and non-white school districts and rich and poor districts. Build the best most Innovative schools especially in low-income communities and communities of color. Create more opportunities for high school students to take practical classes that lead to credentials. 

Elizabeth Warren Cancel debt for more than 95% of Americans. Substantially increase wealth for black and latino families. Offer universal free public college. 
Pete Buttiegieg  

Make college free for lower-income students with free tuition and support for basic living expenses. Get students on a pathway to college early by notifying high schoolers about their Pell Grant eligibility and completing the free application for federal student aid (FAFSA) for most students. Invest in our local communities by creating a $1 billion community college fund. Ensure students don’t go hungry. Expand access to child care subsidies so parents can attend college. 

Andrew Yang  

Reduce student loan payments and no longer let the government profit from student debt loans. Reduce everyone’s debts, especially recent graduates (with the largest debt levels). Propose a 10 x 10 plan where a student would pledge 10% of their salary for 10 years, and the remaining would be forgiven. Ask schools to forgive debt for those who do not graduate, and forgive debt for students who have degrees under false pretenses. 

Amy Klobuchar  

Protect student borrowers by restoring and strengthening rules that allow students who believe they were defrauded by their colleges to apply for loan forgiveness. Remove barriers to education for homeless and foster youth. She will direct her Secretary of Education to remove barriers to higher education for homeless and foster youth including ensuring grant programs to identify, recruit and prepare homeless and foster students for college.  She will champion tuition-free one- and two-year community college degrees and technical certifications, and expand apprenticeships. She believes we must respect the dignity of work by paying people a decent living wage, and make it easier for Americans who need help to afford four year degrees.

 

Healthcare

By the age of 24, students are no longer able to be covered on their parents healthcare plans. With the costs of healthcare exploding, the increase in a freelance economy that does not typically provide healthcare, and almost 30 million uninsured people in America, the healthcare system is not sustainable. About 1 in 4 uninsured people are ages 26-34.  

Candidates Health Care
Bernie Sanders Create a medicare-for-all single payer national health insurance program. Provide everyone in America with comprehensive health care coverage, free at the time of service. No networks, no premiums, no deductibles, no co-pays. Expand medicare coverage to include dental, hearing, vision, in-home care, mental health, substance abuse treatment, maternity and prescription drugs. Put a cap of $200 a year for all prescription drugs.
Joe Biden  

Expand the Affordable Care Act and give every American access to affordable health insurance. Give Americans a new choice of a public health insurance option like Medicare. Increase the value of tax credits to lower premiums and extend coverage. Expand coverage to low-income Americans. Give middle-class families a premium tax credit to help them pay for coverage.

Elizabeth Warren  

Pursue anti-corruption reforms, to rein in health insurers and drug companies. Use the presidency to improve coverage and cost immediately. Protect individuals with pre-existing conditions. Lower costs of drugs. Improve Obamacare. Give every American over the age of 50, a choice to enter a medicare program. Give every person in America the choice to get coverage through medicare. Medicare will be free for children under 18, and for families making at or below 200% of the federal poverty level (About $51,000 for a family of 4). Eventually, coverage will be free for everyone, and Medicare for All will be fully implemented by third year in office.

Pete Buttiegieg  

Guarantee Universal coverage through Medicare for all who want it. Automatically enroll individuals in affordable coverage if they are eligible for it. End surprise billing by requiring all providers at in-network facilities to be in-network. Make it easier to afford and find care for mental health and substance use disorder. Give patients more power by increasing transparency of pricing and the quality of health services.

Andrew Yang  

Reduce the cost of prescriptions through negotiation, international pricing and importation. Invest in technology to make health services function correctly. Change the incentive for providers to prioritize patients. Shift the focus to education in preventing disease, and end of life options. Add mental health, dental and vision into health care plan. Reduce the influence of lobbyists.

Amy Klobuchar  

She’s ports universal healthcare for all Americans and believes the quickest way to get there is through a public option that expands Medicare and Medicaid. She supports changes to the Affordable Care Act to help bring down costs to consumers, including providing cost-sharing reductions, making it easier for states to put in reinsurance, and continuing to implement delivery system reform. She will combat substance abuse disorders and prioritize mental health including launching new prevention and early intervention initiatives.

 

Income Inequality/Economy

According to politifact, The 3 richest Americans have as much wealth as the bottom 50%. 84% of wealth is in the hands of the top 20%, and 99% of all new wealth goes to the top 1%. This makes it difficult for someone starting out in life to move to the middle or upper class. Young people are concerned about opportunities for employment and earning a living wage. 

Candidates Income Inequality/ Economy
Bernie Sanders Establish a tax on extreme wealth of the top 0.1% of U.S. households. This applies to networth of over 32 million dollars. Anyone with a net worth less of 32 million dollars, would not see their taxes rise. Ensure that the wealthy are not able to evade taxes. Raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour.
Joe Biden  

Ensure middle and high schools prepare students for good jobs. Provide high-quality Universal pre-kindergarten for all three and four-year-old. Provide early childhood development support to families where they are most likely to access it, in the pediatrician’s office. If you provide each child with the same start in life, the lifelong earning potential will increase.

Elizabeth Warren  

$0 additional tax on any household with a networth of less than 50 million. 2% annual tax on a household net worth between 50 million, and 1 billion. 4% annual billionaire surtax on household net worth above 1 billion. Will also help the economy with Green New Deal, which has a $10.7 trillion investment in clean economy, and creates 10.6 million green new jobs.

Pete Buttiegieg  

Raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in all states. Double unionization and restore workers rights that have been eroded by decades of anti-worker policies and increase the right to a multi-employer bargaining and expand protections for gig economy, farm, and domestic workers. Institute gender pay transparency and create a safe, equitable, accessible, and fair workplace. End right to work laws which ban union security and collective bargaining.

Andrew Yang  

Implement the “Freedom Dividend”. This provides universal basic income of $1,000 a month, for all Americans over the age of 18. Change the way we measure the economy, instead of the stock market. Measure the economy by median income, standard of living, mental health and health adjusted life expectancy. Rain in corporate excess, by appointing regulators who cannot move to private industry afterwards.

Amy Klobuchar  

She believes that this means investing in quality childcare, overhauling our country’s housing policy, raising the minimum wage, and providing Paid Family Leave. This includes supporting small-business owners and entrepreneurs as well as helping Americans save for retirement. It means increasing teacher pay and funding for public schools with a focus on investment in areas that need it most.

 

Immigration

More than 40 million people living in the United States were born in another country. Many young people worry about their immigration status or the status of a loved one. President Trump has made this into a polarized issue with increasing ICE raids, detention facilities, talks of border walls and deportations. There is no clear path for citizenship and the courts are in backlog. 

Candidates Immigration
Bernie Sanders Stop all deportations until an audit of past practices and policies is complete. Reinstate and expand DACA. Develop a humane policy for those seeking asylum. Break up ICE and CBP. Dismantle deportation programs and detention centers and reunite families who have been separated. Live up to American ideals by welcoming refugees and those seeking asylum (including those who may be displaced by climate change). 
Joe Biden  

In the first hundred days the Biden Administration will immediately reverse the Trump Administration is cruel and senseless policies that separate parents from their children at our border. Biden will surge humanitarian resources to the border and foster public-private initiatives. He will end prolonged attention and reinvest in a case management program. 

Elizabeth Warren  

Address to humanitarian mess at the border and reverse This president’s discriminatory policies. Expand legal immigration that will grow our economy reunite families and meet our labor market demands. Pass real reform that provides cost-effective security at our borders addresses the root causes of migration and provide the path to status and citizenship so that our neighbors don’t have to live in fear. Decriminalize migration and refocus enforcement on serious criminal activity. Separate law enforcement from immigration enforcement to strengthen our community. 

Pete Buttiegieg  

Create a path to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented people living in the United States. Promote citizenship for eligible permanent residents. Support creating a “National Office of New Americans” to promote and support immigrant and refugee integration at the federal level. Modernize our employment-based visa system. Protect undocumented workers from retaliation when reporting labor violations and ensure visa portability. Accelerate reunification of families. End multimillion-dollar private for-profit prison contracts for detaining immigrants and reduce immigrant detention dramatically. 

Andrew Yang  

Increase funding to secure land ports of entry, where most drugs enter the United States. Invest in technology (such as ground and aerial sensors) to have effective monitoring at the border. Provide body cams for all agents at the border. Provide long-term permanent residency for anyone who has been here for a long time. This would allow people to work, pay taxes and stay (as long as they didn’t commit a felony). It would take 18 years to fully get citizenship. 

Amy Klobuchar  

Jumpstart legislative negotiations for comprehensive immigration reform with the stated goal of passing it in the first year. This includes a pathway to citizenship, the DREAM Act and border security.  Comprehensive Immigration Reform could reduce the deficit by $158 billion. Protect DACA and TPS and Deferred Enforcement Departure designations. Undo attempts by the Trump Administration to deport dreamers and immigrants who were living, working, and succeeding here, under Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforcement Departure. 

 

Gun Control

Over 1.2 million Americans have been shot in the past decade and every year 36,000 Americans are killed by gun violence. This averages out to 100 deaths per day. Students today have to live in a world of increased school shootings. Active shooter drills are a common occurrence. There were over 100 instances of gunfire on school grounds in 2019. Students today are looking for someone to solve this problem. 

Candidates Gun Control
Bernie Sanders  

Take on the NRA. End its corruption in D.C. Expand background checks. End the ‘gun show’ loophole. Ban the sale of assault weapons. Ban high capacity ammunition. Implement a ‘gun buyback’ program to get guns off the streets. Support ‘red flag’ laws, and ban #D printing of guns. 

Joe Biden  

Banned the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act. Buy back assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in the United States reduce stockpiling of weapons and require background checks for all gun sales. 

Elizabeth Warren  

Take executive action to rein in gun industry, holding both gun dealers and manufacturers accountable for gun violence. Break the NRA’s control on Congress by passing anti-corruption legislation. And eliminate the filibuster so that our nation won’t be held hostage by a small group of well financed extremist. She will send Congress comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation and signed it into law within a hundred days and will revisit it every single year adding new ideas to existing ones based on new data until they can reduce the number of gun deaths in America. She will also raise the minimum age to own a weapon and will expand the number of sales covered by existing age restriction provisions that require the purchaser to be at least 18 years old, keeping guns out of the hands of teenagers. 

Pete Buttiegieg  

Expand background checks to apply to all gun sales, including sales from unlicensed sellers at gun shows or online. Establish a nationwide permit to purchase licensing system to be implemented at the state level. Close the “Charleston loophole” also known as the default proceed provision. Require law enforcement to be notified when guns are lost or stolen. Promote safe storage practices. 

Andrew Yang  

Close the ‘gun show’ loophole. Implement a purchase limit, and a federal ‘cooling off ‘period. Promote a strong licensing system, with a five year renewal requirement, for gun ownership. Anyone wanting a license would need a federal background check, have no history of violence, domestic abuse, violent mental illness. Have an interview with a federal agent passive bass basic hunting or firearm safety class.  Provide a receipt for the appropriately sized ‘gun locker’ or trigger locks and individual states will determine their concealed carry open carry laws. Make a clear definition of an ‘assault weapon’, and prevent manufacture and sales of them. 

Amy Klobuchar  

Institute universal background checks. Close the gun-show loophole. Ban bump stocks that increase a semi-automatic rifles rate of fire to 700 rounds per minute. Ban high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Raise the age to buy military-style assault weapons from 18 to 21. Fight to ban the sale of assault weapons. Provide grants to states to implement extreme risk provisions to empower families and law enforcement to keep guns away from people who show signs of threatening behavior. Close the “Charleston loophole” by giving law enforcement additional time to complete background checks. Close the “boyfriend loophole” by preventing people who have been abused dating partners from buying or owning firearms. Establish a waiting period for sales of handguns and assault rifles which law enforcement can waive in the case of emergency. Prohibit the online publication of code for 3D printing of firearms.

 

This article did not include civil rights, women’s rights, and criminal justice because most of the remaining candidates have similar stances, but these issues are still very important to youth voters. The bigger policy differences on these issues will come in the general election against President Donald Trump. 

According to the latest Emerson polling, Bernie Sanders is currently leading polls by receiving 36% of the vote of people under 50 years old. The trend increases with people 19-29, where Sanders carries over 45% of the vote. Research shows why Bernie Sanders is so popular with younger voters; as he has a long history of voting and pursuing goals that coincide with young people’s priorities, and the new generations are not deterred by what older generations label as Sanders “radical” beliefs. Polls indicate they don’t have the same fears about socialism and instead are dissatisfied with the current government. Bernie Sanders biggest policy issues are climate change, healthcare and college affordability. This falls directly in line with the same priorities for most students. It has yet to be seen how big of a factor the youth vote will be in the 2020 primary election, but if the numbers are large one could project that it will favor the more progressive candidates.