Americans Elect Fizzling Out

The much-touted online effort to find an “independent” candidate for President and get him or her on the ballot in all 50 states appears to be dying from lack of interest:

A group clearing the path for an independent White House bid on Tuesday canceled the first phase of its search for a bipartisan ticket because declared and draft candidates aren’t mustering enough preliminary support.

Americans Elect scrapped a virtual caucus that had been planned for next week. Another round of voting set for May 15 also is in jeopardy; a third is to be held on May 22. Candidates must meet a certain threshold of support to be eligible for the caucuses.

Ileana Wachtel, a spokeswoman for the group, says no one gathered enough online “clicks” to qualify. Candidates must show they have the backing of at least 1,000 people in at least 10 states. Some candidates must reach a threshold of 5,000 supporters in each of 10 states because they haven’t held high enough office before under the Americans Elect bylaws.

“It is their responsibility to get the clicks,” Wachtel said. “We are just merely the platform for them to run on.”


Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who has the second-most support among two dozen declared candidates, is still well shy of the number he’d need to move along.

Anderson said the group set its bar too high.

“It’s incredible to me that they’ve worked so hard and spent so much money getting ballot access and yet they’ve set up the system that those with the greatest amount of support won’t qualify for the first round of voting,” Anderson said.

Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer leads the pack of declared candidates but still hasn’t qualified for the caucus process. Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a Republican presidential candidate, is the leader among candidates supporters hope to draft; he has been dismissive of a third-party bid.

I really don’t think anyone should be surprised by this. Third party efforts generally don’t garner much interest in the United States to begin with unless they are led by a charismatic personality (Eugene Debs, Teddy Roosevelt, George Wallace, and Ross Perot come to mind). More importantly, the entire premise of Americans Elect seems to be built around the Tom Friedman theory of politics that says that all we need is some centrist technocrat in the White House and we’ll be fine. Judging from the underwhelming response to Americans Elect, it doesn’t seem that the American people agree.

Perhaps if nobody expresses interest, they can get Tom Friedman to run.

H/T: Balloon Juice

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Jeremy says:


  2. Bennett says:

    Upper class faux-centrism can never fail, it can only be failed.

  3. legion says:

    Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of rubes. As mistermix notes,

    These compulsive masturbators raised $22 million and spent $9 million on their website.

    Being rich is clearly no proof against also being gullible & stupid.

  4. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Clearly all of our problems would be solved if only the Mustache of Understanding could find enough poltically savvy cab drivers willing to be harassed by an entire security detail and followed by a Presidential cavalcade.

  5. Say Amen says:

    The problem with Americans Elect is its defective concept. The premise that they could start by nominating a candidate for president reflects a form of reality blindness and historical ignorance. They expected that they would attract a stellar politician to carry their banner and attract a large portion of the independent voters. The only “declared” candidates, i.e. “willing”, are political failures or unknowns who have attracted fewer supporters than a small town city council candidate. Why would they expect anything different?

    A stellar politician who would attract millions of voters would know that it is politically and mathematically impossible to win the presidency as a third party candidate in our dominant two-party history with the winner-take-all electoral system. The only thing a third party candidate could do would be to act as a spoiler, splitting the vote of his own party, Republican or Democrat, so the other party’s candidate would win. No stellar politician would want to be the cause of that “treachery” to his party compatriots.

    If, by some miracle the AE candidate won, how could he ever accomplish anything as president? He would have no AE members in Congress to work with him. Every member of Congress would be in the opposition party, with his former party members hating him even more than the members of the other opposing party.

    The only reason Buddy Roemer is seeking the nomination is that he has had a failed political career and could never expect to be elected to anything again. To learn the truth about him, go to the following web page and then scroll down the comments to the comment of “Say Amen.” Read the citations that have been assembled there. They are excellent sources of information about Buddy Roemer, written by independent, objective, and reliable journalists and historians.

  6. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I wish I had that much money to throw away like confetti. Sigh.

    Next time around they should set a more realistic goal for themselves. Like a city council seat. Maybe even a county board of supervisors election. Somewhere with a small population and a independent political streak. Reno, Nevada immediately comes to mind. Shasta, California.

  7. al-Ameda says:

    This kind of proves my point, that there are not really that many “independents” around.

    Americans these days are generally not politically unaffiliated, not independent, and not in search of some mythical bipartisan nirvana where consensus solutions are crafted. If we were we would not have the Congress we have today.

  8. James Joyner says:

    Yeah, I just don’t know who they could have attracted to make this work. Let’s say Michael Bloomberg and Chuck Hagel wanted to do it. They’re about as big a names as I can think of that are remotely plausible and still young enough. (The days of Colin Powell or Sam Nunn being viable are long past.) If Hagel was at the top of the ticket, I’d prefer him to Romney. But I don’t see the draw for enough people.

  9. legion says:

    @James Joyner: Bridging that ego-to-reality gap is one of the biggest stumbling blocks in modern politics, where everyone seems to inhabit their own personal echo chamber. Just take a quick look through Newt’s quitting speech and tell me that man wouldn’t leap right out of his shoes if AE knocked on his door tomorrow…

  10. James Joyner says:

    @legion: But that’s the problem: third parties can recruit has-beens and never-wases, not people who see themselves with a future in the current system.

  11. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @James Joyner: Once again, I stand baffled at what passes for political sagacity in your mind. In what meaningful way is Chuck Hegel different from Romney? Bloomberg? Really?

  12. James Joyner says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Well, Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee for president and they’re not. Both Bloomberg and Hagel have plausible presidential credentials and have good credibility with the pundit class and could raise a lot of money. And neither would be likely to win the nomination of either political party, so taking a shot with a centrist start-up that’s got ballot access might conceivably be attractive to them.

    I’m not arguing either could win the presidency as a third party candidate. I don’t think that’s possible, for structural reasons, absent political chaos akin to the 1860 election.