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Socratic SMACKDOWN: What policies must 2020 presidential candidates focus on in order to win the vote of the American people?

The Candidates..

Presidential Candidates, 2020 (from Ballotpedia) provides biographies, voting records, and political campaign contributors.

2020 Presidental Candidates (from gives you access to FactCheck files related to each candidate, their FEC Filings, and Sanford's OpenSecrets Profile.

HINT:  Do a Google search for candidate campaign pages to get more on what the candidate believes and claims.

Who is On The Issues? This non-partisan organization does some of the work for you. Volunteers comb the internet and other media sources for news, press releases, speeches and other information related to the candidates in the spotlight now.


What social policy are YOU most concerned about?
Voting Rights: 0 votes (0%)
Social Welfare: 0 votes (0%)
Health Care: 2 votes (9.52%)
Criminal JusticePolicies: 2 votes (9.52%)
Gun Rights/Control: 4 votes (19.05%)
Student Debt: 0 votes (0%)
The Environment: 8 votes (38.1%)
Religious Freedom: 0 votes (0%)
Opioid Epidemic: 3 votes (14.29%)
Educational Equity: 2 votes (9.52%)
Total Votes: 21
What economic policy are YOU most concerned about?
Agricultural Policy: 1 votes (5.88%)
Energy Policies: 5 votes (29.41%)
Campaign Finance Reform: 3 votes (17.65%)
The National Debt: 1 votes (5.88%)
Tax Policy: 5 votes (29.41%)
Trade Policies: 2 votes (11.76%)
Total Votes: 17
What foreign policy are you most concerned about?
National Security: 2 votes (9.52%)
Immigration Policy: 3 votes (14.29%)
Foreign Wars: 1 votes (4.76%)
Nuclear Weapons: 1 votes (4.76%)
Climate Change: 11 votes (52.38%)
American Leadership: 3 votes (14.29%)
Total Votes: 21

What policies must 2020 presidential candidates focus on in order to win the vote of the American people?

Policies to Consider

Social Policy

  • Drug Policy
  • Social Welfare
  • Health Policy
  • Criminal Justice
  • Gun Control
  • Civil Rights
  • Public Education
  • Student Debt
  • Child Care
  • Environmental
  • Health Insurance
  • Social Security
  • Separation of Church and State

Economic Policy

  • Agricultural Policy
  • Energy Policy
  • Campaign Finance Reform
  • Privatization
  • National Debt
  • Tax Policy

Foreign Policy

  • National Security
  • Trade Policy
  • Immigration Policy
  • Foriegn Wars
  • Nuclear Weapons
  • Promoting Peace
  • American Leadership
  • Global Warming

Concerned that a policy you care about isn't here?  Email Mrs. Cowell and she'll add it to the list.

What kind of resources should you be looking for?

Below you'll see an example that models what you should be looking for in selecting sources: 

  • The publishing source (what is their reputation?)

  • Expertise (is the author an expert? does he quote experts?)

  • Evidence of Research (does the author cite or link out to their sources?)

HINT:  You have polling data to rely on.  You can make inferences from other resources. 

Consider the "Commonly Requested U.S. Laws and Regulations" page at  You might infer that if people are looking up these laws, they are related to issues or policies they care about.

What do the polls say?

PEW Research Center

There are a number of research centers that produce research reports related to the policies you are exploring.  One of the best known is PEW Research Center. 

Check out their page on Political Issue Priorities. You can filter this down further by year or area of research.  When you're done go to the main page. You'll find tons of information about what Americans care about.


What Issues Should the 2020 Democratic Candidates Be Talking About? FiveThirtyEight, Sept 18, 2019.

FiveThirtyEight is an award winning blog focused on opinion polling and analysis based on data.  Created by American statistician and author, Nate Silver, the blog is respected for his sports and political statistical analysis. Articles are written by Silver and staff members.


Newport, Frank. Government: "The Most Important Issue Facing 2020 Candidates." Polling Matters, August 20, 2019. 

Gallup is an American analytics and advisory company that has been around since the 1930s.  They publish public opinion polls daily in the format of "data-driven news."  They are known for tracking the publics attitudes on political, social and economic issues.


Fractured Nation: Widening Partisan Polarization and Key Issues in 2020 Presidential Elections, PPRI, October 20, 2019. 

The Public Policy Research Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan organization tht focuses on America's changing religious, cultural and political landscape.

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