The (Limited) Meaning of Obama's MoveOn Endorsement

MoveOn, the online network that connects more than 3 million progressives nationwide , has officially endorsed Barack Obama. This may seem like a big deal, since MoveOn has 1.7 million members in the 22 states that will vote next Tuesday, but it probably won’t amount to much.

MoveOn’s members, on the whole, are highly attuned to politics and government and cling to their own political views passionately. They joined MoveOn to connect with other progressives and to channel their energy into meaningful action. When it comes to defining their own political opinions, these are among the least confused people on the planet. They are not easily swayed.

Apparently, MoveOn issued its endorsement after conducting a vote among its members. Seventy percent favored Obama, while 30 percent preferred Hillary Clinton. Which most likely means that after the endorsement, 70 percent of MoveOn’s members will vote for Obama in the primaries, and 30 percent will go with Clinton.

If there is value for Obama in the endorsement, it’s that it reinforces his efforts to highlight Clinton’s vote for the Iraq war in 2002—and her sometimes awkward efforts during this campaign to explain it away. Obama raised the issue effectively in last night’s debate and again on the campaign trail. The news that a progressive group deeply opposed to the war is officially backing him buttresses this message—even if it won’t change the votes of many (or any) of that progressive group’s members.