Dean Wins MoveOn Primary, falls short of endorsement

The results are in from the first Democratic ?primary? of the
2004 election season, an online poll conducted June 24 and 25 by
MoveOn.org PAC, a San Francisco-based activist group. Former
Vermont governor Howard Dean came away the clear leader with 43.9%
of the vote, but fell short of the 50% needed to win the MoveOn
endorsement. The second and third place finishers were Congressman
Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) with 23.9% and Senator John Kerry (D-MA)
with 15.7%. The six other Democrats in the race each received
totals in the single digits.

Over 300,000 of MoveOn?s 1.4 million members cast their votes,
more than the combined number of votes cast in the 2000 Democratic
primaries in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina. The voting was
conducted using an innovative system that assigned a unique URL to
each voter. A random phone survey of over 1000 primary participants
was conducted by pollster Stanley Greenberg to verify the accuracy
of results.

This online event, which was closely (and nervously) watched by
the media and Democratic establishment, signals what could be a
major power shift within the party. The point of the whole
exercise, said MoveOn in its announcement of the primary, was to
try to wrest control of the nominating process from the ?pundits,
pollsters and wealthy donors [who] determine the outcome long
before the actual primaries,? by giving the Democrats? liberal base
a voice early in the process.

In addition to voting for their preferred candidate, MoveOn?s
ballot asked members for permission to share their contact
information with the candidate, as well as to pledge volunteer time
and money to their campaigns. Remarkably, MoveOn reports: ?54,370
voters pledged to volunteer for their preferred Democratic
contender; 77,192 voters authorized MoveOn to give their e-mail
addresses to the candidate of their choice; and 49,132 voters
pledged to contribute money to their candidate, for a total
estimated at more than $1.75 million (a $35 average
contribution).?

That kind of influx of money and grassroots organizing resources
this early in the race, particularly for the three front-runners,
could give a dramatic boost to their campaigns.

?This is only the beginning,? said Wes Boyd, MoveOn.org PAC?s
treasurer. ?Our most important objectives have been met: early
Democratic grassroots involvement; increased contributions and
volunteer support for each campaign; and mobilization of the
Democratic base to defeat George Bush. We wanted people to have a
seat at the table, and they have taken it.?

Not all observers see MoveOn?s primary as a good thing.
?Leif Utne

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