UPDATED FOR FEBRUARY 25th DEBATE: Snapshot of 2020 Presidential Candidates on Key Work/Family Issues

Updated by Vicki Shabo, Senior Fellow for Paid Leave Policy and Strategy, on February 25, 2020
Blog Post
Karl_Sonnenberg / Shutterstock.com
Feb. 25, 2020

Tonight, the Democratic candidates will hold their last debate before Super Tuesday. Will we hear about work, family and care?

Over the last two months, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg have regularly incorporated child care, pay equity, caregiving and/or paid family leave into their stump speeches. Workplace harassment became a flashpoint in the last debate. Candidates in the Democratic field have issued policy proposals on child care, paid leave and pay equity in recent weeks. Mr. Trump has also started to include the administration's actions on these two issues into his campaign rally speeches.

There are differences to explore -- and much more needs to be said in order for us all to understand how the needs of working families would be addressed and gender equity promoted by each candidate. It's past time for the candidates, debate moderators and voters to focus on the policies the United States needs to support workers, families, businesses and the economy.

Child care. Equal Pay. Paid Family and Medical Leave. Gender-Based Workplace Harassment. One or more of these issues touch virtually everyone in America. As campaign 2020 has progressed, candidates have embraced these issues and connected them to economic opportunity, gender and racial justice, rural communities, workers' rights, seniors' and caregivers' security, and families' health and well-being. A few candidates have issued novel, bold policy proposals that go beyond currently proposed federal legislation. However, some candidates have not addressed these with specificity or urgency, or have failed to articulate any position at all.

To help the media, advocates, and the public assess where the candidates stand, the Better Life Lab at New America is tracking candidates’ 2020 positions using three metrics: (1) their campaign website; (2) major speeches or op-eds; (3) history of bill sponsorship, co-sponsorship or executive action. Details on the sources we used are described in note 1, below.

A snapshot of each candidate's platform, speeches and record is presented below, with each dot hyperlinked to a source. Our methodology is described in note 2, below. Please contact us for further details or our perspectives on specific proposals.

Our analysis does not suggest endorsement, support of, or opposition to any candidate; it is simply a record of whether each candidate has addressed a particular issue. We hope this will help the media and the public to understand where candidates currently stand and to start a dialogue with candidates about prioritizing these policies.

Jahdziah St. Julien, the Better Life Lab's program assistant, assisted with locating and evaluating content to update to this tracking snapshot.

[1] Sources: We used the following sources for each metric:

  • 2020 campaign platform: Campaign website and campaign Medium posts
  • Supportive statements: Op-ed or major speech associated with presidential candidacy (announcement speech or, for the Democratic candidates, a speech at the 2019 California Democratic Party Convention, the 2019 Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Forum, the 2019 Move On Big Ideas Forum, the 2019 NAACP National Convention, the 2019 Polk County Iowa Steak Fry and - beginning with the December 2019 update, a search of Campaign 2020 events in the C-SPAN video library from October forward); town halls and smaller events cataloged in the C-SPAN video library from January 2020 forward
  • Position while in office:
    • For current or former federal lawmakers: Co-sponsorship of five federal bills (the Child Care for Working Families Act (child care), the Paycheck Fairness Act (equal pay), the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (paid family and medical leave) and either the EMPOWER Act or the BE HEARD Act (workplace harassment))
    • For current or former governors or mayors: Executive actions or support for state/local legislation
  • NEW: Fortune/Time's Up Digital Forum responses: On January 28, Fortune published summaries and videos of candidates' responses to a questionnaire sponsored by itself and Time's Up Now. We have included representations of candidates' responses to that questionnaire. Where a candidate's answer was not specific enough to understand their approach to policy, we used a ? to represent that they had attempted to answer the question. Two candidates (Joe Walsh and Bill Weld) did not respond to the Fortune/Time's Up request for information.

[2] Methodology: Our analysis provides credit to any candidate who mentions the need for action on an issue on their website or in a major speech or op-ed. Some candidates have gone much further than others in detailing specific plans. As described in the chart legend, we differentiated candidates' positions in policy focus and scope in two areas: early care and learning (to differentiate between candidates whose positions focus on pre-3 and pre-K rather than the cost and affordability of child care) and paid leave (to differentiate between candidates whose positions focus only on paid leave for new parents rather than for all working people who need leave to care for new children, loved ones or their own serious health issue). We used ? where the candidate mentions the issue very vaguely but provides no detail at all on policy details.