Looking Ahead to the 2016 Election, Issue by Issue

Nov 20, 2015

It may be hard for those of us in New Hampshire to believe -- but there's a whole other round of voting to come after our own presidential primary in February. And the outcome of that race will likely be shaped by factors impossible to predict at this point.

To help, the website FiveThirtyEight.com just published a guide to the seven major issues they believe will shape the 2016 White House race. 

The guide provides summaries of the various candidates' positions, as well as insights as to how specific issues may evolve over the next 12 months.

The entire guide is definitely worth reading. But here are a few highlights:

1. Economy: As in the pasta two presidential elections, 2016 seems likely to be dominated by the state of the economy. But which party holds the advantage on that issue remains unclear at this point. By many measures, the economy has improved under President Obama. But other indicators -- not least of which is public confidence in the economy -- things aren't quite so rosy. As a result, Democrats seem uneager to embrace Obama's economic legacy.

2. Environment & Science: The debate over the Keystone XL Pipeline is "becoming a proxy for the argument about whether jobs are more important than environmental concerns."

3. Criminal Justice: The two political parties are having "mostly separate conversations" on this topic, though there is growing common ground.

4. Health Care: Among the issues diving Republicans is the question of how to restructure Medicare -- "though the tone of that debate will depend on who gets the party nomination."

5. Privacy & Data Security: Here's a rare issues that doesn't align neatly by party, with Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz sharing many of the same positions on the topic. 

6. Education: Talk on specific education policy has been rare this primary season -- with the issue of college affordability to main exception. Standardized testing may also prove a hot topic later in the campaign.

7. Religion & Social Issues: "It's hard to predict at this point how important (social issues) will be in the decisions of religious voters. America's faithful tend to be fairly diverse in their political leanings, so winning them over is more a matter of microtargeting than a hard appeal to 'values voters;.'"