DFA endorses Bernie Sanders for President

After receiving 87.9% of member vote, Sanders captures first Democratic presidential endorsement in progressive PAC’s history

Burlington, VT – Today, Democracy for America (DFA) endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President in the 2016 race for the Democratic Party’s nomination.  Sanders earned the  endorsement after receiving an unprecedented 87.9% of the 271,527 votes cast by DFA members nationwide over a nine-day voting period.  To win DFA’s endorsement, a single candidate needed to secure a supermajority (66.67% or more) of votes cast.

This is the first presidential primary endorsement in DFA’s 11-year history.  A similar member endorsement vote held prior to the 2008 election received just over 150,000 votes, but no single candidate was able to clear the grassroots progressive PAC’s supermajority threshold.

Statement from Charles Chamberlain, Democracy for America’s Executive Director,on today’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders for President:

“Bernie Sanders is an unyielding populist progressive who decisively won Democracy for America members’ first presidential primary endorsement because of his lifelong commitment to taking on income inequality and the wealthy and powerful interests who are responsible for it.   

“Throughout his campaign, Bernie has repeatedly said that the huge problems of income inequality, money in politics, and structural racism that our country must confront are bigger than a single campaign -- they need a political revolution.  With today’s endorsement, DFA members are joining Bernie’s “political revolution” and working to take it both to the White House and up-and-down the ballot, in races coast to coast.”  -- Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director, Democracy for America

The fully quotable email Chamberlain sent to DFA members announcing the organization’s endorsement of Sanders is also available below.

Statement from Bernie Sanders reacting to DFA’s endorsement:

“I’m proud to have DFA and its over 1 million members join our people powered campaign,” Sanders said. “DFA’s tireless focus on bringing people together through grassroots organizing is the best way we can fight back against the billionaires who have rigged our economy."  -- Sen. Bernie Sanders

DFA’s endorsement of Sanders brings with it a one-million member-strong grassroots army that has knocked hundreds of thousands of doors, made over 11 million phone calls, and raised and contributed more than $32.7 million to help elect 843 progressive candidates nationwide since 2004.  

While Bernie Sanders has conclusively won DFA’s endorsement, Secretary Hillary Clinton and Gov. Martin O’Malley’s decision to actively engage DFA members over the course of their vote was both appreciated and makes clear that, no matter what, Democrats will have a 2016 nominee who deeply respects the power of the grassroots progressive base of the party.

As the PAC has previously said, DFA will run a 100% positive campaign in support of Sanders and is steadfastly committed to ensuring that Sanders -- or any other candidate who secures the Democratic nomination -- wins the White House in 2016.

Additional details about DFA’s Presidential Primary Endorsement Vote and its subsequent endorsement of Sanders:

  • Final vote percentages for the options on the endorsement ballot were: Sen. Bernie Sanders (87.9%); Sec. Hillary Clinton (10.3%); Former Gov. Martin O’Malley (1.1%); “Don’t Endorse” (0.8%).  
  • To receive DFA’s endorsement, a single candidate needed to secure a supermajority (66.67% or more) of the votes cast.
  • 271,527 votes were cast in the DFA Presidential Primary Endorsement Vote over the course of the 9-day voting period (12/7-12/15) at 2016.DemocracyForAmerica.com
  • All progressives were encouraged to cast a ballot in DFA’s endorsement vote.  Individuals could cast their vote -- and change their mind -- as many times as they liked over the course of the voting period, but only their final vote was counted.
  • Over the course of the voting period, Sanders, Clinton and O’Malley sent email messages to DFA members asking for their support -- marking the first time all the 2016 Democratic presidential candidates had openly competed for the support of members of a grassroots progressive organization.

Prior to today’s endorsement of Sanders, DFA was one of the leading progressive organizations behind Run Warren Run, a national grassroots effort dedicated to encouraging Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for President.  

While DFA and its allies at MoveOn.org suspended the campaign in June 2015, the effort played a critical role in ensuring that the battle against income inequality and for bold Warren Wing ideas advanced by Sanders like debt-free college, Social Security expansion, and Wall Street accountability remains at the center of the debate within the Democratic Party.


DFA Member --

With 271,527 votes cast -- and all three presidential candidates campaigning directly for your vote -- the results are in and they are extraordinary.

Bernie Sanders has earned Democracy for America's endorsement in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary with an astonishing, record-breaking 87.9% of the vote (including 77.8% of voters who were already members of DFA prior to the poll being launched on December 7).

This is an historic moment for DFA, for the progressive movement, for the Democratic Party, for people-powered politics -- and for Bernie supporters who relentlessly rallied over nine intense days to Get Out The Vote and win this pivotal endorsement.

Election Day in Iowa and New Hampshire is coming fast. Will you help mobilize progressives to get out the vote for Bernie? Contribute $3 or more right now to both Bernie Sanders and DFA by 11:59pm PT on Saturday -- and show the establishment the power of the DFA grassroots army.

This is the first time since our founding that DFA members have chosen to make an endorsement in a presidential primary and it couldn't have happened without the participation and Get Out The Vote efforts of members like you. With your help, Bernie was able to easily clear 67% -- a two-thirds threshold that TIME Magazine called a "high bar" -- undeniably demonstrating the overwhelming support he has from our members.

We're grateful to each of the Democratic candidates -- Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders -- for participating fully in this process and making it clear how much they value our support. 

Now, driven by the relentless energy of DFA members, we’ll immediately start organizing on behalf of Bernie in key primary states, from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada to nearly a dozen states voting on Super Tuesday. We’ll also be building -- as Bernie has called for -- a political revolution ready to elect populist progressive candidates nationwide to local school boards, city councils, and state legislatures, and all the way up to the U.S. Senate.

We know that our people-powered organization can make a huge difference in this election and our first chance to prove it starts now. Please join me on this historic day in showing Bernie -- and the establishment -- that DFA members are working to win.

This endorsement can be a game-changer -- but only if DFA members step up right now and take action. Please click here to contribute $3 or more right now to both Bernie Sanders and DFA by 11:59pm PT on Saturday -- and show the establishment the power of the DFA grassroots army.

At DFA, a cornerstone of our electoral vision for revitalizing the Democratic Party is the knowledge that primaries matter -- and Bernie's campaign is a perfect example of why they do.

Like DFA members, Bernie has kept the fight against income inequality front and center in the presidential race. The 2016 presidential primary election could’ve been dominated by the same Republican-Lite rhetoric that helped Democrats lose control of the U.S. Senate in 2014. Instead, Bernie’s ideas and solutions for rebuilding the middle class have dominated the debate. His success has helped move critical issues like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, breaking up the big banks and getting big money out of politics -- all issues supported by the majority of Americans nationwide -- into the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

And Bernie is doing all of this while building a powerful, insurgent campaign that is steadily dismantling the conventional wisdom of DC skeptics who claimed he would never have a chance to win.

Bernie has held several huge events with tens of thousands of people in places like Portland, Oregon and Boston, Massachusetts -- but the political revolution hasn’t been limited just to liberal states. Over 8,000 showed up at a rally in Dallas, Texas, over 9,200 at an event in South Carolina, and over 11,000 people attended a July rally in Phoenix, Arizona, during one of the hottest days of the year. All in all, the Washington Post reports that over a four-week period this summer, more than 100,000 people attended Bernie's rallies, proving that his vision for America resonates across the country no matter where you live.

It’s not just the crowds. Bernie is polling in first place in New Hampshire and is in striking distance of a win in Iowa. The campaign broke a record just last night, as the first presidential campaign in history to bring in over 2 million individual contributions this early in the primary contest.

We're excited to be backing a bold progressive champion like Bernie, and we're going into full campaign mode to support him but -- as a grassroots progressive movement organization -- we're going to need some significant resources to make it happen.

Do you want DFA to be able to go all-in for Bernie? Maximize the impact of this critical endorsement by chipping in $3 or more to support Bernie Sanders and DFA immediately. DEADLINE: 11:59pm PT, Saturday, December 19.

Of course, this isn't the first time DFA has stood side by side with Bernie Sanders. Our organization has been working with him to make progressive change happen for years.

Together, we've run issue campaigns focused on raising the minimum wage, overturning Citizens United and stopping the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership -- and he has regularly chatted with our members on several DFA Live conference calls over the years.

On one riveting DFA Live call last year, Bernie warmly praised DFA members and celebrated the economic populism that has defined DFA, especially over the last two years: "Income inequality is the greatest moral, economic, and political issue facing our country today. That's why I've been so impressed with DFA's relentless work to address it."

The fact that Sen. Sanders was able to win our endorsement vote by such a huge margin is proof of the incredible energy and enthusiasm his campaign is inspiring. As Bernie himself so often says, this isn't just about him -- it's about bringing new people and energy into a movement that will fight for working families far into the future.

DFA has a long history of backing progressive candidates in contested primaries -- and when we give our endorsement, it's more than just talk. In every election cycle since Howard Dean founded DFA in 2004, not only have DFA members supported progressive candidates with their donations -- DFA members have also been the invaluable "boots on the ground" candidates need to get them over the top in close races.

We know how to build progressive power -- and that's exactly what we’ll do in Iowa, New Hampshire and beyond, by recruiting and training volunteers, fundraising for the campaign, and uplifting the issues that matter in this election.

Over the coming days and weeks, we will be working with the Sanders campaign to maximize our impact, add value, and help drive the campaign to victory. But the first action you can take right now -- with only 45 days left until voting begins in Iowa -- is to make the most of this pivotal moment with a huge, meaningful show of support for Bernie.

The political establishment is watching to see what kind of impact this endorsement will have on the presidential race. Let’s show them we can’t be stopped. Please chip in $3 or more now to support Bernie and DFA by 11:59pm PT on Saturday and show them that we're in this to win it!

Thanks for your vote and your support in this exciting and critical moment for the progressive movement and the Democratic Party.

- Charles

Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director
Democracy for America



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