Today Barack Obama earned the endorsement of MoveOn, one of the largest grassroots membership organizations in the United States, after clobbering Hillary Clinton by 40 percent in Internet balloting. Obama led the final tally 70.4% to 29.6%, clearing the supermajority required for the endorsement. MoveOn, which has never endorsed a presidential candidate before, boasts that it has 1.7 million members in Super Tuesday states. The group has over half a million members in California alone - roughly one out of ten primary voters in Tuesday's largest state.
"We've learned that the key to achieving change in Washington without compromising core values is having a galvanized electorate to back you up," said Executive Director Eli Pariser, "and Barack Obama has our members 'fired up and ready to go' on that front."
Obama welcomed the endorsement on Friday. "In just a few years, the members of MoveOn have once again demonstrated that real change comes not from the top-down, but from the bottom-up. From their principled opposition to the Iraq war - a war I also opposed from the start - to their strong support for a number of progressive causes, MoveOn shows what Americans can achieve when we come together in a grassroots movement for change," he said in a statement. "I thank them for their support and look forward to working with their members in the weeks and months ahead," he added.
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Organizers said they would "immediately" begin mobilizing on behalf of Obama, leading turnout programs and phone-banking members of MoveOn in targeted states. The group made seven million "GOTV" calls for Democrats in the mid-term elections, and it has an extensive voter file database.
The decisive victory shows that Obama is consolidating support from the netroots in the wake of John Edwards' withdrawal. Obama also won the Edwards vote in Thursday's Daily Kos reader poll. He bounced 35 points to reach an all-time high of 71 percent, while Clinton held steady at 11 percent. If Super Tuesday is a tie and both campaigns brace for a protracted delegate hunt, Obama could draw fundraising, volunteers and advocacy from a united front of MoveOn, netroots activists and bloggers.
Matthew Smith, an Ohio MoveOn member who voted for Obama yesterday, said he was excited by the Obama's "ability to draw people to him, to energize people who generally don't vote [and] to create an atmosphere of long-overdue possibility."
© 2008 The Nation