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2012 Election: Compare the Candidates on Issues

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

By Grace Nasri

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With five viable candidates still in the running just nine months before election day on Nov. 6, many voters are still weighing whether to support the Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama or one of his four remaining Republican opponents: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich , Texas Rep. Ron Paul , former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum .

The American public differs greatly in terms of what issues sway their votes. Some voters focus on the candidates' accomplishments during previous jobs in the private or public sector. Others find relevance in personal attributes like age or religion: Ron Paul, 76, Baptist; Newt Gingrich, 68, Roman Catholic; Mitt Romney, 64, Mormon; Rick Santorum, 53, Roman Catholic; Barack Obama, 50, Protestant.

Some see education as an important indicator and weigh in factors like highest degree obtained: Gingrich: PhD Modern European History, Tulane University; Obama: J.D., Harvard Law School; Paul: M.D., Duke University Medical Center; Romney: J.D. Harvard Law School and M.B.A., Harvard Business School; Santorum: M.B.A, University of Pittsburgh and J.D., Dickinson School of Law.

As election day nears, some undecided Americans begin to put weight on the candidates' standings in the polls or how much money they have raised .

But despite all these background factors, most Americans base their voting on the candidates' positions on issues. Below is a glimpse of some issues that have come up during Campaign 2012 and the candidates' positions.

Such positions are not always easy to paraphrase, because the positions are nuanced or complex or evolving or simply unclear, so be sure to check the candidates' campaign websites: Newt Gingrich , Barack Obama , Ron Paul , Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Abortion

"Pro Life" - Gingrich, Paul, Romney, Santorum.

"Pro Choice" - Obama

Climate Change

Believes that human activity has brought about climate change: Obama, Paul

Does not believe humans have caused climate change: Santorum

Believes the science is unsettled: Gingrich , Romney

Health Care, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Gingrich , Paul, Romney, Santorum

Uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Obama

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