MoveOn.org PAC Primary Finds Dean at Top

An Internet Democratic presidential primary with over 300,000 online voters ended with former Vermont governor Howard Dean garnering 44 percent of the vote. However, no candidate will receive the endorsement of MoveOn.org PAC unless they receive more than 50 percent of the vote. The other top vote-getters were US Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH) with 24 percent of the vote and US Senator John Kerry (MA) with 16 percent of the vote.

Though voters in the primary did not represent a cross-section of the United States, MoveOn.org PAC noted that it had more participation than the New Hampshire Democratic primary and Iowa caucus combined. Along with voting, participants were asked to name those candidates they would “enthusiastically support” should they win the real democratic primary. All the candidates but Sen. Bob Graham (FL) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT) received promises of support from over 50 percent of the voters, including the only woman and one of only two African-Americans in the running, Carol Moseley Braun. Voters also pledged an estimated $1.75 million to support Democratic candidates.

Many pundits have hailed this primary as an example of the power of grassroots organizing through the Internet. “MoveOn.org has the potential to become the Christian Coalition of the left over the long run,” Michael Cornfield, research director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet at George Washington University, told the Associated Press. “The way the Christian Coalition saw what could be done with direct mail, MoveOn.org is doing with the Internet, establishing a grassroots constituency advancing a multi-issue agenda.” Others have noted the importance of the primary for jumpstarting the opposition to George W. Bush in 2004. “I don’t think it’s terribly important that Dean came first, Kucinich second, and Kerry third,” Robert Reich, secretary of labor under Clinton, told Salon. “I sense a determination among liberals and progressives to win and to rally behind whoever emerges as the primary candidate … I’ve been struck as I travel around the country by the determination of the progressive community to get George W. Bush and his people out of the White House in 2004, even if that requires some compromise with other progressives and other Democrats on priorities.”

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MoveOn.org PAC 6/27/03; Associated Press 6/27/03; Salon 6/28/03

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