Americans Elect Turns Out To Be A Failure

Not without surprise, Americans Elect has failed to select a nominee and looks destined to become little more than a footnote in the history books:

Americans Elect, the deep-pocketed nonprofit group that set out to nominate a centrist third-party presidential ticket, admitted early Tuesday that its ballyhooed online nominating process had failed.

The group had qualified for the general election ballot in 27 states, and had generated concern among Democrats and Republicans alike that it could wreak havoc on a close election between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

But just after a midnight deadline Monday, the group acknowledged that its complicated online nominating process had failed to generate sufficient interest to push any of the candidates who had declared an interest in its nomination over the threshold in its rules.

“Because of this, under the rules that AE delegates ratified, the primary process would end today,” said the group’s Kahlil Byrd in a statement issued at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. He seemed to leave the door open for proceeding outside the original process, however, adding, “There is, however, an almost universal desire among delegates, leadership and millions of Americans who have supported AE to see a credible candidate emerge from this process.”

Byrd said the group would confer “with its community” in the coming days “before determining next steps for the immediate future. AE will announce the results of these conversations on Thursday, May 17.”

The idea for Americans Elect was to break the grip of the two major parties on national politics, which the group blames for Washington’s hyperpartisan gridlock.

Prominent backers included former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and Manhattan private equity tycoon Peter Ackerman, who provided millions in seed funding.

They and a board of dignitaries set out to create a bipartisan ticket to appear on presidential ballots in all 50 states selected through a nationwide Internet convention that would have forced top candidates for its presidential nomination to tap vice presidential running mates who are either independent or affiliated with the opposite party.

It was an organization designed to please nobody but Tom Friedman, and its nomination process was Rube Goldberg-like in its complexity. It’s no wonder people ignored it.

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. Michael Demmons says:

    Americans Elect was a failure before it started. The only thing a third party does is drains votes from one of the two main parties and guarantees a win.

  2. Brett says:

    I wouldn’t worry. This type of Thomas Friedman-type of campaign always comes up every few years, and I would expect to see another such “movement” before the 2016 election.

    I just don’t understand why influential and rich people keep thinking it will actually make a difference. Is it some type of nostalgia for a less openly contentious and nasty political process? I grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s, so I wouldn’t know.

  3. Scott says:

    On the other hand, you got to try different things to see if it works. This project didn’t. The next one may. The fact that the other parties worried (even just a little bit) is a net positive.

  4. Wasn’t there a similar movement in the 08 election as well that failed?

  5. al-Ameda says:

    I have to say, I think it was pipe dream bulls*** from the beginning.

    We don’t have many center-based politicians because we (the voters) don’t want any. Or at the least, we as individual voters think that we’ve elected practical, reasonable, centrist people, it’s just that other people have been screwing things up by electing hyper-partisan unreasonable people.

    We go through this charade every 4 years.

  6. Gustopher says:

    I’m pretty sure it doesn’t even rank footnote status.

    We have a center-right party — the Democrats. We need a party on the left, something closer to socialism than a 3% increase in the upper tax bracket, and a Republican health care plan from the 1990s.

  7. @Gustopher:

    Wouldn’t the Green Party classify as that party?

  8. al-Ameda says:

    @Cynical in New York:

    Wouldn’t the Green Party classify as that party?

    I think so, although I’m not quite sure what kind of policies a prominent Green Party would have toward, say, Israel and Palestinians, school vouchers, deficit spending, health insurance reform, and many other issues.

    I’d like to see it happen.

  9. @al-Ameda:

    Granted its from 2010 but this is their most up to date platform