Ready for Warren Asked Their Members if They Should Back Bernie Sanders. Why Won’t MoveOn and DFA?

Activists who wanted Elizabeth Warren to run for president took a poll and decided to endorse Bernie. Should other progressive organizations do the same?

Michael Payne

Warren in 2012 when she ran for and won the Massachusetts senate race. Despite vocal support, she is not running for president in 2016. (Tim Pierce / Flickr)

Amid the growing momentum of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, many progressive advocacy groups appear reluctant to find out just how many of their members now support Sanders.

MoveOn and DFA claim they will support the candidate who best represents the “Warren agenda.” Who precisely that candidate is, however, could be a hotly contested issue within the Democratic Party.

The team behind Ready for Warren recently launched a new initiative, Ready to Fight, endorsing Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. In a recent CNN op-ed, Ready for Warren co-founders Erica Sagrans (who is a board member of In These Times) and Charles Lenchner write that they polled their members and found that 56% of supporters have urged us to back Bernie Sanders as the candidate currently running for president who best embodies the values that Warren champions.” 

Other progressive groups had likewise been committed to a Warren candidacy. In a November 2014 member poll, Democracy for America (DFA) members overwhelming picked Elizabeth Warren as the candidate they most wanted to see run, with Bernie Sanders coming in second and Hillary Clinton third.

Warren’s strong performance prompted Democracy for America to join MoveOn’s Run Warren Run campaign. After Warren announced that she would not run, MoveOn and DFA did not shift their support to any other single candidate. 

But it’s difficult to know whether the members of DFA and MoveOn have already coalesced around a single candidate. Democracy for America’s last public member poll was in November 2014 and the group has not committed to publicly polling its members’ preferences in the 2016 presidential race.

Likewise, in a public statement, MoveOn’s executive director of political action Ilya Sheyman explains that the group will consider endorsements if it appears MoveOn members might coalesce around a particular candidate.” MoveOn did not respond to questions about whether the progressive advocacy group plans to conduct a public poll of its members’ candidate preferences.

MoveOn and DFA do regularly poll their members, and both claim they will support the candidate who best represents the Warren agenda.” Who precisely that candidate is, however, is a hotly contested issue within the Democratic Party. MoveOn and DFA may be reluctant to commit to conducting a public member poll because the results could reveal a schism between the progressive grassroots and the Democratic establishment.

While MoveOn and DFA remain undecided, Sanders’ support for a Medicare-for-all, single-payer healthcare system, along with his pledge to break up banks that are too big to fail, led Ready for Warren’s members to endorse Sanders as the best advocate of the Warren Wing” of the Democratic Party. Warren has joined in the enthusiasm herself, telling the Boston Herald in a June 30 interview, I love what Bernie is talking about.”

Despite current uncertainties, the coming months will likely reveal which candidates are committed to the same progressive economic agenda as Elizabeth Warren. As Ready for Warren’s co-founders explain, ultimately the draft effort was never just about her — it’s about her message and the values she represents.”

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Michael Payne is a Summer 2015 editorial intern at Rural America In These Times. He is studying political science at the College of William and Mary.
Democratic Rep. Summer Lee, who at the time was a candidate for the state House, at a demonstration in Pittsburgh for Antwon Rose, who was killed by police, in 2018. Lee recently defeated her 2024 primary challenger.
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