Engadget's guide to the 2016 presidential election

We’ve scoured the internet to find out where all 16 presidential hopefuls stand on 12 key technology and science issues and graded each on their relevant knowledge and experience. If you’re voting on mobile OS preference, however, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Click here to see how we grade and for a quick rundown of the issues in question.

Grade: D- Polling at: 43%


Donald Trump

Grade explained: Trump dismisses 97 percent of climate scientists, compared net neutrality to the Fairness Doctrine and has suggested a tit-for-tat policy of cyberwarfare (instead of cybersecurity). He has staked out glib positions that show no understanding of the issues, which cost him several letter grades. He has, however, clearly spent time considering the H-1B visa program and believes he has a solution that will both protect American jobs and allow Silicon Valley to bring in highly skilled immigrants.

Net neutrality: “Obama's attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target the conservative media.” (Twitter: @realdonaldtrump)

Evolution: N/A

Climate change: “I’m not a believer in global warming. And I’m not a believer in man-made global warming… I believe there’s weather. I believe there’s change, and I believe it goes up and it goes down, and it goes up again. And it changes depending on years and centuries, but I am not a believer, and we have much bigger problems.” (Hugh Hewitt)

Clean & renewable energy: “...one of the largest mother lodes of natural gas, the Marcellus Shale, could produce the energy equivalent of 87 billion barrels of oil. Some critics believe those numbers might be inflated. Fine. Let's say the real number is fifty-five years of energy. Or that we only get 43 billion barrels' worth of energy. So what? That buys us more time to innovate and develop newer, more efficient, cleaner, and cheaper forms of energy.” (Time to get tough: Making America great again! p.24)

Government surveillance & privacy: “I support legislation which allows the NSA to hold the bulk metadata. For oversight, I propose that a court, which is available any time on any day, is created to issue individual rulings on when this metadata can be accessed.” (The Daily Signal)

STEM education & research: N/A

NASA: When asked what his opinion of NASA was: “You know, in the old days, it was great… right now, we have bigger problems — you understand that? We've got to fix our potholes. You know, we don't exactly have a lot of money.” (Washington Post)

Cyber security: “...we continue to have persistent, intentional and deliberate attacks on American cyberspace by agents from, or acting on behalf of, China. These actions border on being acts of war. America should counter attack and make public every action taken by China to steal or disrupt our operations, whether they be private or governmental.” (Breitbart)

Online gambling: Discussing his own online gambling venture: “This [online gambling] has to happen because many other countries are doing it and like usual the U.S. is just missing out.” (Forbes)

Patent reform: N/A

Broadband infrastructure: N/A

H-1B visas: “More than half of H-1B visas are issued for the program's lowest allowable wage level, and more than eighty percent for its bottom two. Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas. This will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program.” (donaldjtrump.com)

[Image credit: Scott Olson via Getty Images]

Polling at: 43% Grade: D-
Grade: B Polling at: 50%


Hillary Clinton

Grade explained: Clinton largely toes the party line. That generally means encouraging the adoption of renewable energy and using the government’s resources to increase access to broadband. She also accepts evolution and climate change as scientific fact -- an obvious plus. Her email scandal has hurt her standing on issues of cybersecurity, where her positions are also slightly underdeveloped. She sees plenty of room for both the government and private industry to drive scientific progress.

Net neutrality: “I think that for the FCC to do what they want to do -- to try to create net neutrality as the norm -- they have to have a hook to hang it on, so, they're hanging it on Title II… I think that if there were another hook, it would come out of a modern 21st century telecom act. And that hasn't happened, and it's not likely to happen… As I understand it, it's Title II with a lot of changes in it to avoid the worst of Title II regulation, It's a foot in the door ... but it's not the end of the discussion.” (Re/code, via: The Verge)

Evolution: “I believe in evolution, and I am shocked at some of the things that people in public life have been saying.” (New York Times)

Climate change: “I personally believe climate change is a challenge of such magnitude and urgency that we need a president who will set ambitious goals.” (The Guardian)

“The reality of climate change is unforgiving no matter what the deniers say.” (New York Times)

Clean & renewable energy: “I will ensure we hit a target of having more than half a billion solar panels installed across the country by the end of my first term… We’ll set a 10 year goal of generating enough renewable energy to power every single home in America.” (You Tube: Hillary Clinton)

Government surveillance: “We are finally taking stock of the laws that we passed after 9/11. We did all of this in an a hurry because we were worried and scared and now we need to take a step back and figure out how we make sure that the balance between liberty and security is right.” (Fox News)

STEM education & research: “In terms of re­search and in­nov­a­tion and sci­ence, ba­sic sci­ence, ex­plor­ing space, ex­plor­ing our oceans, ex­plor­ing our gen­ome -- we’re at the brink of all kinds of new in­form­a­tion. Let’s not back off now… I don’t have an ob­jec­tion to part­ner­ing with com­mer­cial en­ter­prises, but I just think they are more in the ap­plied-sci­ence arena, not in the dis­cov­ery and re­search arena that I think only the gov­ern­ment can sup­port.” (National Journal)

NASA: “I would like to see us con­tin­ue to ex­plore space... There’s just a lot for us to keep learn­ing. I think it’s a good in­vest­ment. So on my list of things that I want our coun­try to in­vest in..” (National Journal)

Cyber security: “It’s not only the Chinese. We know that oth­er governments -- Russia, North Korea, Iran -- have either directly or indirectly sponsored hacking. And we worry about terrorist organizations getting access to the capacity.” (Reuters)

On her growing concerns over foreign hacking of US interests: “It star­ted with the grave con­cerns that a lot of Amer­ic­an busi­nesses had, that their most con­fid­en­tial in­form­a­tion was be­ing va­cu­umed up through in­trus­ive hack­ing... It’s a ser­i­ous threat to our com­mer­cial in­terests, to our in­tel­li­gence in­terests, to our stra­tegic in­terests.” (The Hill)

Online gambling: N/A

H-1B visas: “I also want to reaffirm my commitment to the H-1B visa program and to increase the current cap. Foreign skilled workers contribute greatly to our U.S. technological development.” (Hillary Clinton to the Indian Institute of Technology Global Alumni Conference)

Extra credit:

High speed rail: “Although more and more Americans are traveling via train, our passenger rail infrastructure is crumbling -- slowing down journeys, limiting ridership, and making trains less safe. In some cases, crucial infrastructure is more than a century old. [I] will invest in creating a world-leading passenger rail system to meet rapidly growing demand and build a more mobile America.” (hillaryclinton.com)

Image credit: Spencer Platt via Getty Images]

Polling at: 50% Grade: B
Grade: A- Polling at: 46%


Bernie Sanders

Grade explained: Sanders supports net neutrality and believes humans play a major role in global climate change. He sees a large role for the government in promoting scientific research and encouraging more students to pursue STEM degrees. He also has one of the more detailed positions regarding cybersecurity, with a heavy focus on modernizing our power infrastructure. We ding him slightly for not taking a public position on evolution and patent reform.

Net neutrality: “For years, net neutrality has prohibited big Internet corporations from favoring or blocking certain viewpoints or websites. Our free and open Internet has made invaluable contributions to democracy both here in the United States and around the world.” (sanders.senate.gov)

Evolution: N/A

Climate change: “The scientists are virtually unanimous that climate change is real, is caused by human activity and is already causing devastating problems in the United States and around the world. And, they tell us, if we do not act boldly the situation will only become much worse in years to come in terms of drought, floods, extreme storms and acidification of the oceans.” (berniesanders.com)

Clean & renewable energy: “Choosing to lead the clean energy technology revolution to stop the worst effects of climate change means America will remain a worldwide leader in job creation, domestic manufacturing, local community revitalization and clean energy technology development and implementation.” (berniesanders.com)

Government surveillance & privacy: “We must rein in the National Security Agency and end the bulk collection of phone records, internet history, and email data of virtually all Americans.Our intelligence and law enforcement agencies must have the tools they need to protect the American people, but there must be legal oversight and they must go about their work in a way that does not sacrifice our basic freedoms.” (berniesanders.com)

STEM education & research: “It means tripling the budget for ARPA-E to do advanced research, and investing hundreds of billions through incentives and a public-private Sustainable Technologies Fund focusing on energy efficiency, solar and wind and geothermal and biomass, and clean transportation technology. We also provide funds to train workers for jobs in the sustainable energy economy.” (sanders.senate.gov)

NASA: “I am supportive of NASA not only because of the excitement of space exploration, but because of all the additional side benefits we receive from research in that area... But, in general, I do support increasing funding for NASA.” (Reddit: I amI am Senator Bernie Sanders, Democratic candidate for President of the United States — AMA)

Cyber security: “The Rebuild America Act will invest $10 billion a year for power transmission and distribution modernization projects to improve the reliability and resiliency of our ever more complex electric power grid. This investment will also position our grid to accept new sources of locally generated renewable energy, and it will address critical vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks.” (berniesanders.com)

Online gambling: “The essence of the issue here is what role, if any, should the federal or state government play in regulating internet activities?...my mind is not yet made up on the issue” (The Hill)

Patent reform: N/A

Broadband infrastructure: “The Rebuild America Act will invest $5 billion a year to expand high-speed broadband networks in under-served and unserved areas, and to boost speeds and capacity all across the country. Internet access is no longer a luxury: it is essential for 21st century commerce, education, telemedicine, and public safety.” (berniesanders.com)

H-1B visas: “The bottom line is that I feel, very much, that a lot of the initiative behind these guest workers programs, a very large expansion of guest worker programs... is coming from large corporations who want cheap labor from abroad.” (Washington Post)

[Image credit: MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images]

Polling at: 46% Grade: A-
Grade: B- Polling at: Withdrawn


Lindsey Graham

Grade explained: Graham is a Washington veteran with a long track record, who has staked out detailed positions on a number of issues. He has never publicly said where he stands on evolution, though he accepts the science behind climate change and the need for vaccines. He has not said much regarding expanding the reach of broadband and he’s offered little more than glib talking points about cybersecurity, which hurts his overall grade.

Net neutrality: Cosponsored a bill that, “Expresses Congress's disapproval of the rule adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on December 21, 2010, relating to preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices. Prohibits such rule from having any force or effect.” (govtrack.us)

Evolution: N/A

Climate change: “I’m OK with the science behind climate change. But if you’re not, that’s OK with me... But what is our position about the emissions? What’s our position about the Clean Air Act? What would we do as Republicans to ensure that the next generation enjoys a healthy environment, being good stewards of God’s green earth?” (Politico)

Clean & renewable energy: ”While we invest in renewable energy sources like wind and solar, we must also take advantage of nuclear power, our single largest contributor of emissions-free power. Nuclear power needs to be a core component of electricity generation if we are to meet our emission reduction targets.” (New York Times)

Government surveillance & privacy: “I'm a Verizon customer. I don't mind Verizon turning over records to the government if the government is going to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with somebody in the United States. I don't think you're talking to the terrorists. I know you're not. I know I'm not. So we don't have anything to worry about.” (Fox and Friends, via: Michael Savage)

STEM education & research: Introduced the Manufacturing Universities Act of 2015 in March. The bill directs the Commerce Department to designate 25 universities as “manufacturing universities” to strengthen their engineering programs related to targeted industries. (Forbes)


Cyber security: “I fear a cyber ‘Pearl Harbor’ is increasingly more likely if we do not invest in the necessary infrastructure to protect our nation.” (MSNBC)

Online gambling: Introduced the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) which would place a federal ban on most online gambling. (congress.gov)

Patent reform: N/A

Broadband infrastructure: N/A

H-1B visas: N/A

[Image credit: Jason Bahr via Getty Images]

Polling at: Withdrawn Grade: B-
Grade: B Polling at: Withdrawn


George Pataki

Grade explained: Pataki accepts the science of evolution and climate change. He also believes that government has a role in expanding the availability of broadband and encouraging students to pursue degrees in STEM fields. As governor he has a strong track record in all these fields. His grade is hurt slightly by underdeveloped positions on cybersecurity and NASA, issues that generally draw more attention at the national level that at the state.

Net neutrality: “…We’re going to take something where no one complains, where it’s a perfectly good system, and have government regulators come in and treat it as a utility, I think it’s utterly ridiculous.” (The Des Moines Register, via: Grabien)

Evolution: “I think it is absurd in the 21st century we’re talking about things like measles vaccines and evolution instead of things like going after ISIS before they can attack us here and reforming Washington where it’s so controlled by the special interests.” (Squawk Box)

Climate change: “I’m a Republican, and I happen to believe that when we emit CO2 and greenhouse gases, the earth gets warmer, and we have to do something about it… “We can’t question evolution, and we have to recognize that human activity is contributing to climate change, and there is a role for government to play in dealing with that issue for the future.” (CNS News)

Clean & renewable energy: “...empowering American innovation, empowering the American belief in dreaming and creating so that our private sector, our university sector, and government all working together could create the next generation of clean energy products that not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but create tens, hundreds of thousands of jobs for America.” (CNS News)

Government surveillance & privacy: “...let's not forget lessons of 9/11, with ISIS openly recruiting online, letting the #PatriotAct go dark will make us less safe.” (Twitter: @GovernorPataki)

STEM education & research: “...let’s make New York the nation’s leader in preparing our students for careers in math, science and engineering. Let’s give middle school students an academic boost–let’s provide them with new math and science summer programs at our community colleges all across the Empire State. Let’s create more math and science high schools like the Tech Valley Science High School in the Capital Region -- schools focused specifically on teaching the skills our students will need to succeed in the high-tech economy of tomorrow. And finally, let’s invest in our future by providing free SUNY or CUNY (university) tuition to students who pursue math and science degrees and commit to teaching right here in New York State.” (CSPAN)


Cyber security: “...talking about cyber security, Hillary Clinton put a server, an unsecured server, in her home as Secretary of State. We have no doubt that that was hacked and that state secrets are out there to the Iranians, the Russians, the Chinese and others. that alone should disqualify her from being president of the United States.” (CNBC Republican debate, via: CNN)

Online gambling: “It is in my interest to prevent online gambling from exploding across this nation. I think it will have a tremendously negative impact on families. It'll have a negative impact on jobs. And particularly from my standpoint I'm very concerned about the ability of organized crime organizations, terrorist organizations, criminal organizations that are trans-national to actually launder money and move money illegally.” (CNBC)

Patent reform: N/A

Broadband infrastructure: “The government has a role to incentivise the development of broadband access in rural areas. We don't want a digital divide. We don't want two americas. And right now more than half of rural America does not have access to the high speed internet that the rest of america does.” (RFD TV)

H-1B visas: “We want to take care, prevent the illegal immigration so we can do things like have more legal immigrants, like the H-1B program.” (You Tube: Nick Mallon)

[Image credit: Steve Pope via Getty Images]

Polling at: Withdrawn Grade: B
Grade: C+ Polling at: Withdrawn


Mike Huckabee

Grade explained: Huckabee has never outright stated his support of net neutrality, though his statements imply he may support it. The same is true of human-caused climate change. He consistently advocates for conservation and reducing man’s impact on the planet, but has stopped short of openly saying that human activity is the cause of global warming. He is generally supportive of NASA. Huckabee has also suggested that he does not believe in the theory of evolution and is hawkish on the topic of cybersecurity. While his clear stance on NASA and promoting scientific research is cause for optimism, his vague positions on many other subjects raise concerns.

Net neutrality: “In many ways we can look at the Internet kinda like we do an Interstate highway. Everybody has a right to get on that highway.” (MSNBC)

Evolution: “But, you know, if anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it. I don't know how far they will march that back.” (CNN)

Climate change: “Being a conservationist is the proper way to live, whether there is human-based global warming or not.” (Salon)

Clean & renewable energy: “I think that there ought to be some government grants and subsidies for those who accelerate ways to produce the [green] energy... Our goal is to be nondependent upon fossil fuels, but there will be an interim period in which we’ll need to utilize all the domestic oil that we can generate by ourselves, whether it’s from ANWR or the continental shelf.” (Salon)

Government surveillance & privacy: When asked about NSA data collection: “...good news is that a court agrees with what so many Americans already knew, that this program has gone too far… There’s no doubt that intelligence gathering is vital to the security of all Americans, but there should be a balance between that protection and our privacy. However, Obama’s warrantless NSA spying program is more than just illegal, it’s an unconstitutional, criminal assault on our freedoms as Americans. As president, I will repeal this program and protect the privacy and civil liberties of all Americans.” (Daily Signal)

STEM education & research: “We must tackle the establishment and reform our colleges and universities so they make sense for the jobs of tomorrow.” (mikehuckabee.com)

NASA: “I don’t think that’s a waste of money because when I look at all of the technology I enjoy, whether its my cell phone or the GPS that guides me to this event or the technology in these cameras that are before me tonight, because of the advances made necessary by the space program we now have technology every day that saves our lives at the hospital, and improves our lives.” (WHNT)

Cyber security: “The response and retaliation to this behavior is simple — America should hack the Chinese government. We should hack the cellphones of some prominent Communist party leaders, hack the bank accounts of intelligence officials, publicly humiliate Chinese families for political corruption, or wipe-out a few critical Chinese computer systems.” (The Hill)

Online gambling: “Online gambling websites are preying on every kid with a smartphone or a tablet," warned Huckabee. "This is frankly one of the most important topics that I don't hear anybody talking about.” (Bloomberg)

Patent reform: N/A

Broadband infrastructure: N/A

H-1B visas: “...recently, we had numerous testimonials of people who in the high-tech sector were actually having and forced to train their replacements who were imported workers who were coming in and making less than half of what they were being paid. Now, in a world of supply and demand that’s one thing. But when companies are undercutting an American worker just so they can increase their profits without regard to the people who made them profitable in the first place, that’s not a money issue. That’s a moral issue.” (Breitbart)

[Image credit: SAUL LOEB via Getty Images]

Polling at: Withdrawn Grade: C+
Grade: C Polling at: Withdrawn


Rand Paul

Grade explained: Rand Paul has thoughtful positions on most tech and science issues rooted in his libertarian ideology. He acknowledges the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and admits that man may be causing global climate change. NASA, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation have been targets of his fiscally conservative budget proposals.

Net neutrality: “I don't want to see regulation of the internet.” (Huffington Post)

Evolution: N/A

Climate change: “While I do think man may have a role in our climate, I think nature also has a role. The planet’s 4.5 billion years old. We’ve been through geologic age after geologic age. We’ve had times when the temperature’s been warmer, we’ve had times when the temperature’s been colder. We’ve had times when the carbon in the atmosphere’s been higher.” (Fox Business Republican debate, via: New Republic)

Clean & renewable energy: “Washington's bureaucratic regulations, corporate subsidies, and excessive taxation have made it unnecessarily difficult for energy developers to take advantage of new and innovative forms of cheap and clean energy.” (randpaul.com)

Government surveillance & privacy: “I believe that every American has a constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy which must be protected. Simply put, the phone records of law-abiding Americans are none of the government's business!” (randpaul.com)

STEM education & research: Paul's budget proposals while in congress included massive cuts to or the elimination of NASA, the NSF, US Geological Survey, Department of Engergy and Department of Education (paul.senate.gov)

NASA: Paul has previously proposed cutting NASA's budget by up 25% (paul.senate.gov)

Cyber security: “CISA, a so-called ‘cybersecurity’ bill, is packed with vague definitions that grant aggressive new spying powers that gut privacy laws and allow Internet providers and websites to hand over personal data to ANY agency in the federal government.” (randpaul.com)

Online gambling: “I'm opposed to restrictions on online gambling.” (Alpha Pages)

Patent reform: N/A

Broadband infrastructure: N/A

H-1B visas: “High tech visas would also be expanded and have a priority.” (Rand Paul to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, via: Wall Street Journal)

[Image credit: Bryan Bedder via Getty Images]

Polling at: Withdrawn Grade: C
Grade: F Polling at: Withdrawn


Rick Santorum

Grade explained: Santorum rejects the theory of evolution and mistakenly equates intelligent design with science. He also has suggested that he doesn’t accept the scientific evidence that humans impact climate change. He has yet to take a position on net neutrality, though his general objection to regulation suggests he would oppose it. In general he does not seem to value investment in science and research, though he does believe we need to encourage more Americans to pursue degrees in STEM fields. That is hardly enough to earn him a passing grade, however.

Net neutrality: N/A

Evolution: ”What’s taught in our school system as a result of liberal academia, is evolution is an incontrovertible fact. There is no suspicion of it. It is decided science that cannot be questioned. There cannot be any doubts about it. If you have any questions or doubts, it’s trying to inject religion into the science classroom. So it is above reproach. I obviously don’t feel that way. I think there are a lot of problems with the theory of evolution, and do believe that it is used to promote to a worldview that is anti-theist, that is atheist.” (Oxford Center for Religion and Public Life:)

Climate change: “Is the climate warming? Clearly over the past 15 or 20 years the answer is yes. The question is, number one, ‘does man having a significant impact on that?’ And number two, and this is even more important than the first, ‘is there anything the United States can do about it?’ And the answer is clearly, no. Even folks who accept all of the science by the alarmists on the other side, recognize that everything that's being considered by the US will have almost -- well, not almost, will have zero -- impact on it given what's going on in the rest of the world.” (CNN)

Clean & renewable energy: N/A

Government surveillance & privacy: “I think it's been very effective in keeping Americans safe... I remember when [the] Patriot Act was put forth. There [were] concerns about repeated terrorist attacks going on on a constant basis and that's not happened as much as anyone predicted during that time.” (Fox News)

“I don't think it is an invasion of privacy.” (Daily Record, via: ydr.com)

STEM education & research: “One of the big problems we have in our country today is that young people are not getting involved in math and science and not dreaming big dreams.” (Space.com)

NASA: “We're on a $1.2 trillion deficit right now. We're borrowing 40 cents of every dollar. And to go out there and promise new programs and big ideas, that's a great thing to maybe get votes. But it's not a responsible thing when you have to go out and say that we have to start cutting programs, not talking about how to grow them…” (Space.com)

Cyber security: Speaking about STUXNET and cyberattacks on America’s rivals: “There have been computer viruses... There have been problems at their facility. I hope that the United States has been involved with that. I hope that we have been doing everything we can covertly to make sure that that program doesn’t — proceed forward.” (Daily Caller)

Online gambling: ”I think it would be dangerous to our country to have that type of access to gaming on the Internet.” (Commentary)

Patent reform: ”Patent reform. It sounds great, right? There’s nothing that politicians like to claim credit for more than reform. But patent reform, as it’s being sold in the halls of Congress, is a direct attack on intellectual property rights and the Constitutional protection of property rights. Our founding fathers recognized the importance of intellectual property protection in a thriving, free economy, which is why they enshrined these rights into the Constitution.” (Facebook: Rick Santorum)

”Comprehensive government solutions are not the answer. Might there be areas that could be tweaked to ensure quicker processing of patent applications? Sure. Might we also want to consider focusing our efforts on minimizing real patent trolls rather than targeting universities and small inventors? Absolutely. Do the bills floating around Congress achieve either? Not unless you believe it’s prudent to burn down a house to fix a leaky faucet.” (Daily Callyer)

H-1B visas: “...immigration policy in America has to put America and American workers first. And so, yes, there are changes to our immigration laws that need to be made that focus the immigration policies on where we need certain skills or certain people to come to this country to help gin up and encourage our economy.” (CNN)

[Image credit: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images]

Polling at: Withdrawn Grade: F
Grade: C Polling at: Withdrawn


Carly Fiorina

Grade explained: Fiorina acknowledges man’s role in climate change, but argues there’s nothing the US can do about it. That defeatist attitude is alarming, but more perplexing is this former tech CEO’s reasoning for opposing net neutrality. She insists that only Google, Facebook and other large companies can afford to navigate the new regulatory landscape. But the regulations do not apply to them, they only apply to service providers like Verizon, which shows she doesn’t truly understand the issue. She has clear, detailed positions objecting to comprehensive patent reform and municipal broadband.

Net neutrality: “Major companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay and Netflix now have a government-conferred advantage over start-ups because they can afford the lobbyists and lawyers necessary to navigate the new Title II landscape.” (CNN)

Evolution: N/A

Climate change: “There is a lot of consensus among scientists that climate change is real, that human activity contributes to it. There is also absolute consensus among those same scientists that a single nation or a single state acting alone can make no difference at all.” (CSPAN)

Clean & renewable energy: “Regarding the renewable fuels standard, it’s not the government’s job to determine market access. I support phasing out sugar, oil, and renewable fuels at the same time so that we’re not impinging on any one state or industry.” (Fuse)

Government surveillance & privacy: “I certainly support that we need to tear down cyberwalls, not on a mass basis but on a targeted basis… we also need to tear down the cyberwalls that China is erecting, that Russia is erecting. We need to be very well aware of the fact that China and Russia are using technology to attack us, just as ISIS is using technology to recruit those who would murder American citizens… but yes there is more collaboration required between private sector companies and the public sector… I absolutely would call on them [Apple and Google] to collaborate and cooperate…” (Wired)

STEM education & research: “We need to feed children’s souls and educate their character as well as prepare them for livelihoods and jobs. In school, after school, after school, because of the way federal money flows you see art, music, history, all of those things sort of falling by the wayside... I would encourage businesses, when they get engaged in communities and provide funding and support to schools… they also care about, not just STEM, which is vitally important. But Art and history and music and philosophy as well.” (American Federation for Children)


Cyber security: “You have to have a consolidated command that has the accountability, the responsibility, for protecting the security of all government systems and databases.” (Bloomberg)

Online gambling: N/A

Patent reform: “But the Innovation Act, while I am sure that many of its sponsors and supporters have their hearts in the right place, watch carefully who is supporting that legislation. It’s not the small it’s the big. It’s the big companies whose ongoing economic benefit depends upon their ability to acquire innovations and patents at a lower cost.” (Inventing America March 2015 conference)

Broadband infrastructure: Regarding municipal broadband: “It's a really bad idea. It's a bad idea because government is never as innovative or as effective as the private sector, because the incentives in government are totally different. It's a bad idea because when the government decides to do it, it makes it too hard for the private sector to do it.” (RFD TV)

H-1B visas: “The H-1B Visa was very different 10 years ago than it is now. In some cases, there are legitimately positions that can only be filled with people who have a different set of skills, but it’s pretty clear that the H-1B visa program is an issue.” (Daily Caller)

[Image credit: Scott Olson via Getty Images]

Polling at: Withdrawn Grade: C
Grade: B Polling at: Withdrawn


Chris Christie

Grade explained: Christie has refused to say whether or not he believes in evolution and has left the door open to teaching creationism in schools. However, he embraces the science of climate change and under his governance New Jersey aggressively expanded the availability of renewable energy through multiple avenues. He also created a central hub for managing the state’s cybersecurity efforts. While his detailed record on energy and cybersecurity are definitely strong suits, the lack of positions on number of topics hurts his overall grade.

Net neutrality: “I think this net neutrality stuff is ridiculous… The less we regulate the internet, the more it will flourish, the better it will be.” (YouTube: Protect Internet Acces)

Evolution: “Evolution is required teaching, If there’s a certain school district that also wants to teach creationism, that’s not something we should decide in Trenton.” (NJ.com)

Climate change: “When you have over 90 percent of the world’s scientists who have studied this stating that climate change is occurring and that humans play a contributing role it’s time to defer to the experts.” (Washington Post)

Clean & renewable energy: Signed a bill for $100 million in tax credits for wind energy facilities. (NJ.com)

“From this day forward any plans that anyone has regarding any type of coal-based generation of energy in New Jersey is over.” (Office of the Governor, NJ)

Government surveillance & privacy: "If a developmentally disabled center in San Bernardino, California, is a target, then every place in America is a target… That's why it was so wrong for Congress and the president to pull back on our surveillance capability with the [NSA], so wrong to demoralize our intelligence community through the report they issued at the end of this last year." (Face The Nation)

STEM education & research: N/A


Cyber security: Signed an executive order establishing the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC), a central organization for analyzing cybersecurity threats and sharing information regarding those threats. (NJ.gov)

Online gambling: “Are we really talking about getting the government involved in fantasy football? ... How about we get the government to do what they’re supposed to be doing. Secure our borders, protect our people and support American values and American families. Enough on fantasy football. People play, who cares?” (Washington Post)

Patent reform: N/A

Broadband infrastructure: N/A

H-1B visas: N/A

[Image credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]

Polling at: Withdrawn Grade: B
Grade: B+ Polling at: Withdrawn


Jeb Bush

Grade explained: Jeb is one of the few Republicans who acknowledges man’s contributions to climate change and he personally believes in evolution. Though, he has left the door open to teaching intelligent design (i.e. creationism) in our classrooms, which costs him. He has carefully considered positions regarding H-1B visas and cybersecurity. His studied approach to most topics scores him plenty of points.

Net neutrality: “The idea of regulating access to the Internet with a 1934 law is one of the craziest ideas I’ve ever heard.” (Time)

Evolution: When asked if he believes in evolution: “Yeah, but I don’t think it should actually be part of the curriculum, to be honest with you. And people have different points of view and they can be discussed at school, but it does not need to be in the curriculum.” (Discover Magazine)

Climate change: “The climate is changing; I don’t think anybody can argue it’s not. Human activity has contributed to it. I think we have a responsibility to adapt to what the possibilities are without destroying our economy, without hollowing out our industrial core.” (Bloomberg BNA)

Renewable energy: “I support an approach that uses diverse sources -- such as wind, solar, other renewables, nuclear, natural gas and coal -- for this country’s energy needs. Power generation should reflect, as much as possible, the diverse attributes and needs of states and their citizens. The federal government should not be dictating what types of power should be used where. It should not be picking winners and losers.” (Bloomberg BNA)

Surveillance: “The National Security Agency and Cyber Command are on the frontlines of defending the United States against cyberthreats. We must stop demonizing these quiet intelligence professionals and start giving them the tools they need.” (jeb2016.com)

Cyber security & warfare: “At a minimum, the government should redouble efforts to: (1) reduce legal and technical barriers to cybersecurity information sharing between the federal government and private sector, and (2) promote best practices for the private sector, including voluntary cybersecurity standards (e.g., through the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s ongoing work).” (jeb2016.com)

Online gambling: N/A

Patent reform: N/A

Broadband infrastructure: N/A

H-1B visas: “H-1B visas now are capped at 65,000 annually, with another 20,000 visas for foreign students earning advanced degrees from American universities. Those numbers are hopelessly innadequate to preserve America's leadership role in technology.” (Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution p.92)

[Image credit: Scott Olson via Getty Images]

Polling at: Withdrawn Grade: B+
Grade: F- Polling at: Withdrawn


Ben Carson

Grade explained: It’s unclear if Ben Carson knows what net neutrality is. Add to that his clear misunderstanding of both climate and evolutionary science, and he’s already failing. In fact he’s gone as far as to suggest that evolutionary theory is the work of the Devil and that people who believe in evolution have no morals. To make matters worse he doesn’t appear to have much of a plan for expanding the availability of broadband or renewable energy.

Net neutrality: “I believe anybody who wants impose another level of secrecy and control in the private lives of citizens is not our friend. You know we need to be exploring ways to allow people to do what they want to do. They've been doing it for years, so why should we now impose a layer of government control?” (OAN)

Evolution: “...no one has ever demonstrated one species changing to another species. This should be, if it’s true, a continual evolving. So we should be able to find intermediate species at any given point in time. We should be able to find how they line up.” (Adventist News Network)

“Ultimately, if you accept the evolutionary theory, you dismiss ethics, you don't have to abide by a set of moral codes, you determine your own conscience based on your own desires. You have no reason for things such as selfless love, when a father dives in to save his son from drowning.” (Adventist Review)

Climate change: “Of course there's climate change. Any point in time, temperatures are going up or temperatures are going down. Of course that's happening. When that stops happening, that's when we're in big trouble.” (Huffington Post)

Clean & renewable energy: “As we intelligently tap our own resources, we must doggedly pursue other energy sources. With appropriate incentives, I have no question that Americans, with all their ingenuity, can come up with new sources of clean energy in a relatively short period of time.” (America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great p.137)

Government surveillance & privacy: “...surreptitiously tracking phone calls, purchasing activity, Web site visitation history, and a host of other activities is tantamount to the illegal search and seizure forbidden by the Fourth Amendment.” (A More Perfect Union: What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties)

STEM education & research: “I think the Space Program made us a better country. The technology spin-off was astounding. Today, I think NASA is becoming even more crucial. Today the race to control space is even more important. What we can do from space continues to dramatically increase. I think we need a new focus on space -- and fast. We also need to launch a major emphasis on improving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. These technical skills are the infrastructure of innovation. We are falling behind and it is shameful.” (Facebook: Ben Carson)

NASA: “I would get the NASA program off the ground because enormous numbers of inventions came out of NASA, things that we use every day. And you know we need to bring the innovative spirit back to America.” (Examiner)

Cyber security: "Improving cybersecurity must be one of our highest national priorities. American's cyberborders are being compromised daily be Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, ISIS and cyber criminals. Therefore, all sectors of our society - government, academia, business and citizens - must be mobilized. We must work together to protect ourselves from cyberwarfare." (bencarson.com)

Online gambling: N/A

Patent reform: N/A

Broadband infrastructure: N/A

H-1B visas: N/A

[Image credit: Scott Olson via Getty Images]

Polling at: Withdrawn Grade: F-
Grade: C Polling at: Withdrawn


Marco Rubio

Grade explained: Rubio has carefully crafted and thoughtful positions on most tech and science issues. He is also one of the only candidates to address the so-called gig economy. He says the government has a role to play in scientific research and is a major booster of NASA. While he is not a young Earth creationist (someone who believes the planet is less than 10,000 years old), he does leave the door open for teaching creationism in our schools. He also displays a lack of understanding when it comes to climate science, both of which hurt his grade.

Net neutrality: “...the issue of ISPs creating different speed lanes is not the injustice that it is made out to be.” (Politico)

Evolution: “There is no scientific debate on the age of the earth. I mean, it’s established pretty definitively, it’s at least 4.5 billion years old.” (You Tube: Marco Rubio)

“At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all.” (GQ)

Climate change: “I don't agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what's happening in our climate. Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that's directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activity…” (ABC News)

Clean & renewable energy: “One of the best ways to encourage growth is through our energy industry. Of course solar and wind energy should be a part of our energy portfolio. But God also blessed America with abundant coal, oil and natural gas. Instead of wasting more taxpayer money on so-called "clean energy" companies like Solyndra, let's open up more federal lands for safe and responsible exploration.” (Republican response to the 2013 State of the Union, via CNN)

Government surveillance & privacy: “The U.S. government should implore American technology companies to cooperate with authorities so that we can better track terrorist activity and monitor terrorist communications as we face the increasing challenge of homegrown terrorists radicalized by little more than what they see on the Internet.” (Fox News)

STEM education & research: “The federal government has a limited but important role in supporting the basic research that will make this [innovation] possible. Agencies such as NASA, the National Institutes of Health, and even the Department of Defense have historically been effective incubators of research, and can continue to serve as a pipeline for private sector innovation…” (Reclaiming the American Dream p.34)

NASA: “Space exploration is and has always been an important venture for our country, It opens the door for an unparalleled level of innovation, research and understanding. By investing in our nation’s brightest scientists and ambitious endeavors, we can accomplish ground-breaking space missions like this probe visit to Pluto.” (rubio.senate.gov)

Cyber security: Rubio’s campaign site says he will, “Encourage information sharing between the federal government and the private sector to adequately respond to cyber threats, while maintaining privacy protections; Use American power to respond harshly to international cyber attacks on American citizens, businesses, and governments.” (marcorubio.com)

Online gambling: Sponsored the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) which would place a federal ban on most online gambling. (govtrack.us)

Patent reform: “The patent process in our country is painfully slow and inefficient. It takes years from the time an invention is submitted to the Patent and Trade Office (PTO) to the time that the patent is granted and the holder of the patent gains legal rights to their invention.” (rubio.senate.gov)

Broadband infrastructure: Rubio’s campaign site says he will, “Reallocate spectrum controlled by the federal government for commercial wireless services and increase transparency.” (marcorubio.com)

H-1B visas: “We will also expand the highly skilled H1-B visa program from 65,000 to 110,000 to fill jobs Americans can’t do.” (rubio.senate.gov)

Extra credit:

The gig economy: “Companies like Handy only have two options for how to classify the professionals who utilize their services. They can either be classified as full W2 employees or as 1099 independent contractors. But neither makes perfect sense.” (marcorubio.com)

[Image credit: Scott Olson via Getty Images]

Polling at: Withdrawn Grade: C
Grade: D Polling at: withdrawn


Ted Cruz

Grade explained: Cruz’s “Obamacare for the internet” quip may be catchy but demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of net neutrality. He’s guilty of cherry-picking data in order to deny the existence of man-made climate change. He has also suggested that NASA should stop studying the Earth and focus its efforts exclusively on space. He has free-market friendly plans for expanding the availability of broadband and H-1B visas, while promoting STEM education. He has also pledged to remove subsidies and tax loopholes for the energy industry, which could save taxpayers money, but would offer little incentive to accelerate the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Net neutrality: “‘Net neutrality’ is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.” (Twitter: @sentedcruz)

Evolution: N/A

Climate change: “My view actually is simple. Debates on this should follow science, and should follow data. And many of the alarmists on global warming, they’ve got a problem because the science doesn’t back them up.” (Late Night with Seth Meyers)

Clean & renewable energy: “...Ted Cruz’s Simple Flat Tax Plan which eliminates all energy subsidies… His plan eliminates all loopholes, stops corporate welfare, and specifically allows every company, including ethanol producers, to immediately expense all of their capital costs, treating everyone fairly, without subsidy. Ted Cruz believes the tax code shouldn’t pick winners or losers in the market and that all industries should compete on a level playing field.” (tedcruz.org)

Government surveillance & privacy: “One of the most troubling things we have seen in recent years is an expansion of federal government authority into surveilling American citizens. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the USA Freedom Act.” (cruz.senate.gov)

STEM education & research: In 2013 proposed an amendment to a bill that would “create block grants for states to promote STEM education in their public schools by raising H-1B fees.” (cruz.senate.gov)

NASA: “We must refocus our investment on the hard sciences, on getting men and women into space, on exploring low-Earth orbit and beyond, and not on political distractions that are extraneous to NASA’s mandate.” (cruz.senate.gov)

Cyber security: Regarding Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA): “I will confess that is not a bill I have studied, I am happy to have our team look at that and examine it, but it’s not an issue I’ve studied... I am very concerned by the big data approach by the federal government across the board … so that is an issue I’ve got concerns with across the federal government but I haven’t examined that particular bill.” (Facebook: Internet 2016)

Online gambling: N/A

Patent reform: “I think we need to be particularly solicitous of protecting inventors, protecting the little guy, protecting those who are asserting their rights protected by the United States Constitution to develop new innovations, and I fear that if we lean too far against the small patent holder that in turn will hamper innovation in our economy.” (Washington Examiner)

Broadband infrastructure: “One of the things I think we need to do is to move a lot more spectrum to the private sector. If you look at the amount of spectrum the federal government controls, it doesn’t make any sense.” (RFD TV)

H-1B visas: “Halt any increases in legal immigration so long as American unemployment remains unacceptably high. The purpose of legal immigration should be to grow the economy, not to displace American workers. Under no circumstances should legal immigration levels be adjusted upwards so long as work-force participation rates remain below historical averages.” (tedcruz.org)

[Image credit: Congressional Quarterly via Getty Images]

Polling at: withdrawn Grade: D
Grade: F Polling at: withdrawn


John Kasich

Grade explained: Kasich once said, “I happen to believe there is a problem with climate change.” Now he calls it an unproven theory. While he has not gone on record specifically rejecting evolution, many of his comments regarding the existence of Noah’s ark and the creation of the earth suggest he falls in the creationist camp. Just as bad, he has largely been quiet on issues relating to technology, including net neutrality, NASA and STEM education. He is somewhat aware of the challenges of cybersecurity and the balance between intelligence gathering and privacy, but that’s not enough to keep him from failing.

Net neutrality: N/A

Evolution: “I believe there was indeed an ark -- and not just any ark but an impossibly, unfathomably huge ark -- and that Noah undertook this impossibly, unfathomably huge task and completed it heroically. And I don't just CHOOSE to believe this because it pleases me to do so. I've read a bunch of texts and studied all kinds of histories and have come to the conclusion that there was indeed a man called Noah, who did indeed build a giant ark, which did indeed weather a tremendous flood and bring about a great change.” (Every Other Monday: Twenty Years of Life, Lunch, Faith, and Friendship p.129)

Climate change: “We don’t want to destroy people’s jobs based on some theory that’s not proven.” (National Journal)

Clean & renewable energy: “In my state of Ohio, we pre­ciously take care of Lake Erie, we’ve re­duced emis­sions by 30 per­cent over the last 10 years, we be­lieve in al­tern­at­ive en­ergy.” (National Journal)

Government surveillance & privacy: “I’m not thrilled with the idea of the phone companies holding onto this [metadata]. It could have been somebody else. But I also like, I do like the idea that you just can’t go willy-nilly listening in to people, and you’ve got to get to a court. I think that’s the appropriate way to do it.” (Hugh Hewitt)

STEM education & research: N/A


Cyber security: “We must defend against cyber attacks on our government and businesses, as well as counter the online activities of jihadis and other opponents. We must work with our allies to identify sources of attack and develop a coordinated response to anyone that attacks the resources of our government and the private sector.” (johnkasich.com)

Online gambling: N/A

Patent reform: N/A

Broadband infrastructure: N/A

H-1B visas: N/A

[Image credit: Scott Olson via Getty Images]

Polling at: withdrawn Grade: F
Grade: B Polling at: Withdrawn


Martin O'Malley

Grade explained: O’Malley has not laid out detailed positions on some issues during his presidential campaign. Though, his track record as Governor of Maryland shows a willingness to use government resources to extend the reach of broadband and encourage scientific research. He accepts the science of climate change and proposes an aggressive government program to transition the US to 100 percent renewable energy. His positions on cybersecurity issues are a little vague, which along with a few other gaps (like his position on evolution) hurts his grade.

Net neutrality: “I agree with President Obama’s net neutrality approach. We shouldn’t have gatekeepers picking winners & losers online.” (Twitter: @martinomalley)

Evolution: N/A

Climate change: “Given the grave threat that climate change poses to human life on our planet, we have not only a business imperative but a moral obligation to future generations to act immediately and aggressively.” (USA Today)

Clean & renewable energy: “I would set a national, cross-sector Renewable Electricity Standard so our nation is powered by 100 percent clean energy by 2050, and a national goal of doubling energy efficiency within 15 years. Many states like California and Maryland are already leading the way forward for the United States.” (USA Today)

“I would increase our investment in basic clean energy research so the U.S. can reclaim the lead on energy innovation, including advancing development, deployment, transmission and storage for renewable energy and new efficiency technologies.” (USA Today)

Government surveillance & privacy: “The USA Freedom act was a step in the right direction, and I’m glad that it passed and the president signed it.” (Time)

STEM education & research: “By improving education and by harnessing innovation; by modernizing our Port, opening the Inter-County Connector, expanding rural broadband, building new schools, modern classrooms and other critical infrastructure; by making college and skills training more affordable for more families,… we have strengthened the connections and improved the conditions that allow business to create jobs." (Martin O’Mallley State of the Sate 2012)

NASA: “Working side-by-side with our congressional delegation and our 'Space Senator,' Barbara Mikulski, we will pursue program policies to leverage our federal facilities and institutions of science and discovery to unlock the enormous economic and employment potential of Maryland’s space sector.” (PR Web)

Cyber security: “...greater security requires greater investment. Investing more resources in cybersecurity is an economic and national security priority. Our servers, information networks, and personal devices now exist on digital battlefields, with real-world consequences.” (Foreign Policy)

Online gambling: Urged congress to “...oppose proposals to federalize Internet poker and casino gambling.” (Washington Times)

Patent reform: N/A

Broadband infrastructure: N/A

H-1B visas: N/A

[Image credit: Bill Clark via Getty Images]

Polling at: Withdrawn Grade: B