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Could Americans Elect create a third-party wild card?

by AirTalk®

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H. Ross Perot (L) captured a substantial portion of votes in the 1992 election which would have probably fallen to George H.W. Bush. DAVID AKE/AFP/Getty Images

While Barack Obama still doesn’t know who he’ll be squaring off against from the GOP, he might need to consider the possibility of campaigning against a viable third-party candidate as well. At least, that’s what the organization Americans Elect would like to see come 2012.

Americans Elect is comprised of Democrats, Republicans and independents who are trying to move beyond the hyper-partisan state of politics in the country. They are well-funded, and their primary goal is to get a centrist candidate for the presidency on the ballots of all 50 states.

The plan is to hold an Internet primary, in which anyone can participate. Candidates can nominate themselves or be drafted by committees of voters. Names can be removed from the ballot, but only by the nominee’s request after multiple rounds of voting. We’ve all seen the palpable electoral effect of third-party candidates, such as H. Ross Perot on George H.W. Bush in 1992 or Ralph Nader on Al Gore in 2000.

Could Americans Elect have the same influence on the upcoming race? None of the viable presidential candidates seem to be hyper-partisan, so why is the group aiming for reform at the top, instead of in Congress, where ideological politics reign? Since the organization doesn’t require financial disclosures, could Republicans or Democrats donate enough money to swing the election in their favor?


Will you be voting in Americans Elect’s Internet primary?


Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times Washington Columnist, covering national and international politics

Steven Hill, independent political journalist and former director of the political reform program at the New America Foundation

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