If an endorsement by Ted Kennedy, Dick Cheney's daughter, The New York Times or even Chuck Norris isn't enough to thrust you onto a particular presidential candidate's bandwagon, the Scientists & Engineers for America, a nonpartisan organization that advocates evidence-based debate and decision-making in Washington, offers another metric: their science platforms.Examining subjects like energy policy, healthcare, views on evolution, stem cells and the like, the Science, Health and Related Policies (SHARP) Network unfurls each candidate's positions (and past) in a wiki format. (The organization monitors frequently--so no funny business like claiming Hillary Clinton was appointed special counsel for the Creationist Museum in Kentucky). If the environment is your main issue, this handy chart at Grist might be a better bet. And the candidate matching quizzes are always as fun as they can be frustrating. (There's nothing that throws people for a loop like thinking you're an Obama guy or gal, only to find out you align more with Romney.)A quick scan at what's up so far doesn't show many differences between the Democratic frontrunners. (Policy-minded voters really can't catch a break, in that regard). The most notable difference is in the "Innovation" field, where Hillary Clinton doubles NIH and NSF funding while setting aside another $50 billion, and Barack Obama plans to fund science and engineering education efforts by delaying NASA's Constellation program. (There's also mention of Obama's support of research into coal-to-liquid technology, which, according to Grist, Clinton also supports; Steve Ashley wrote a related post on that technology recently on this very blog.)For the Republican side, John McCain, despite the perception that he has moved right in recent years has the sort of science stance that might turn a few heads. While he's anti-Kyoto, he's against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR), voted for federal funding for stem cells (which Bush vetoed) and authored a statement with Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman stating that humans were responsible for global warming. Mitt Romney, the only remaining viable challenger to McCain supports drilling in the ANWR, has moved his stance on embryonic stem cell research to the right (supporting the federal ban except in cases like cell reprogramming) and thinks climate change is partially due to man-made causes.There's plenty more information to plunder (and add to, if that's your cup of tea). If nothing else, it's a few more data points on issues that don't come up as often in the course of the debate system. Speaking of debates, there's also an effort to call for a science policy debate during the national election. Our editor-in-chief, John Rennie, is heavily involved in that push. But, that's a story for another time.
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.