Dean A Hit In Online 'Primary'

2003/5/20 Howard Dean headshot, former Governor of Vermont. AP

None of the Democratic presidential candidates received 50 percent of the vote in the first online primary, denying a key MoveOn.org endorsement to any of the White House hopefuls.

In announcing the final totals Friday, MoveOn.org said Howard Dean topped the list of contenders with 44 percent of the vote, or 139,360 votes. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio finished second with 24 percent, or 76,000 votes, and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts got 16 percent, or 49,973 votes.

The rest of the nine-candidate field finished in single digits.

Absent the endorsement, Democratic candidates were counting on gaining thousands of potential volunteers, donors and campaign dollars from the online presidential primary.

By the time voting ended at 1:15 a.m. EDT Thursday, 317,639 people had voted in MoveOn.org's first presidential primary, 54,730 had pledged to volunteer for their preferred candidate and 77,192 authorized MoveOn to pass on their e-mail address to their favorite candidate. Participants are not asked whether they are registered to vote, but they are asked if they are over 18.

"The primary benefit for candidates is to broaden their base of support, put new supporters on their rolls," said Wes Boyd, co-founder of MoveOn.org.

Boyd said Friday that his organization would wait until the fall before asking its members whether they want to hold another primary.

Campaign officials agreed that the event offered an opportunity to cultivate online support.

"We saw it as a chance to increase the number of people interested in the senator's campaign, a way to increase the number of donors in the campaign and a way to bolster our long-term online communications capabilities," said Robert Gibbs, a spokesman for Kerry.

A spokesman for candidate Joe Lieberman said the Connecticut senator's campaign sent an e-mail to supporters asking them to participate, as several other campaigns did.

The threshold to win the primary and get MoveOn's endorsement was 50 percent.

Those who voted were offered the option to donate to their preferred candidate. MoveOn raised $3.2 million for congressional candidates in 2000 and $4.1 million for candidates in 2002, Boyd said.


By Will Lester
  • Joel Roberts

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.