Read side-by-side comparisons of what the Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls have said on the issues on voters' minds:
Last fall, as the subprime housing crisis intensified, the economy replaced the war in Iraq as the top concern for Americans. It's quite possible that the economy will remain the top issue until the elections. That's because the bad debts generated by the subprime debacle have caused a credit crunch that, along with record high energy prices, appears to be dragging the U.S. economy into recession. There are even fears of a global downturn.
These concerns have caused wild gyrations in the financial markets, dramatic interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve and efforts to stimulate the economy by the White House and Congress. The economic situation has compelled the presidential candidates of both parties to hone their economic positions and provide their own ideas about how to avoid a recession. Read a quick summary of their economic views.
Few issues divide Republican and Democratic presidential candidates more than Iraq. The Democrats talk about "ending the war" and "bringing the troops home." Republican candidates talk about "success" and "victory" in the region.
But go beyond the bumper sticker quotes and it gets a little muddy.
All the major Democratic candidates say they want to bring the troops home. But they also want to keep some U.S. troops in Iraq to go after al-Qaida, protect diplomats and aid workers. They are vague as to how long those troops would stay. And the Republican candidates talk of success and victory, but with little detail. Read more on where the presidential candidates stand on Iraq.
Health care is once again near the top of voters' concerns — a position it has not held since the 1992 presidential race. A December 2007 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that health ranked second among issues voters want policymakers to address — following only the war in Iraq — among Democrats, Republicans and independents.
That may help explain why Democrats and Republicans running for president have offered up comprehensive health care policy proposals during the primary phase of their campaigns. Read a sampling of each candidate's health care proposals.
Immigration provides one of the clearest contrasts between the parties. While both Democrats and Republicans advocate various enforcement measures, most of the Republican contenders reject legalizing an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants now in the U.S.; all the Democratic contenders support it. GOP candidates have highlighted their get-tough approach, while Democrats have generally avoided the topic unless asked.
Read a breakdown of the candidates' votes and positions on some of the main immigration legislation in recent years.
Climate change is moving to the front burner for many of the candidates vying for the Democratic and Republican nominations in 2008. The new awareness results from several factors: A growing consensus among Americans on the left and right that global warming issues must be addressed; concern over imported oil from the Middle East; and the newfound muscle of California's eco-voters, thanks to their state's early primary this year. Read what the presidential candidates have said so far.