IS IT GOING TO BE A TWO-MAN RACE AFTER ALL?
I know most of you won't be surprised by this -- maybe I was the only person on the left taking these folks seriously -- but it's looking as if Americans Elect is having a very difficult time attracting a candidate its leadership likes.
A new group that hopes to tap into a rising appetite for a third-party presidential challenger has discovered that $30 million in secret cash can buy ballot access and attention, but not necessarily a dream candidate.
The group, Americans Elect, failed to generate interest in possible campaigns from Sens. Joe Lieberman and Lamar Alexander, and its intensive outreach to a host of other prospective candidates, including former Nebraska Sens. Chuck Hagel and Bob Kerrey, hasn't yielded much public enthusiasm for its efforts.
Even Jon Huntsman, whom top Americans Elect officials have supported, has ruled out the possibility of seeking the group's nomination....
Instead, Americans Elect has attracted attention from the allies of potential candidates who don't seem well-suited to the group'’s goal of leading a centrist surge on Election Day, including obscure figures such as Buddy Roemer, and those who seem to defy the group's moderate positioning, such as Donald Trump and Ron Paul.
Meanwhile, supporters of the group are taking heat for provisions aimed at preventing their process from being hijacked by a figure like Comedy Central satirist Stephen Colbert....
I just assumed that, with all that backing from Wall Streeters and the likes of uber-PUMA Lady Lynn Forrester de Rothschild, these people would have some kind of impact on the race -- not enough to field a winning candidate, or even enough to field a candidate who could win a single state, but enough to possibly tip certain states into the win column for whichever major-party candidate seemed to be the ideological opposite of the Americans Elect candidate, much as John Anderson tipped Massachusetts into Ronald Reagan's win column in 1980, presumably because of Paul/Nader-style support from young voters.
I also thought yammering pundits would give AE a lot of free publicity -- hello, Tom Friedman -- and make its candidate the candidate of choice for people who don't really think for themselves, but think they think for themselves.
But it looks as if no mainstream pol wants to get out of the good graces of one or the other political party. It's sort of like what we always hear about prisons, or rough neighborhoods: you don't want to try to survive without affiliating yourself with one gang or another. These guys are afraid not to keep flying their colors.
I assumed the AE candidate might get as much as 7% of the vote, while ideological candidates might get up to 1% or 2%. I still think we'll have the latter -- a Libertarian (the percentage will go up if it's Ron Paul rather than Gary Johnson); a Jesus-'n'-guns candidate who'll do better than everyone who's previously run on his line because the level of disgust on the right with the GOP's "RINO" candidate will be greater than it was in '08; and probably someone like Rocky Anderson on the left in the Nader role, also doing better than Nader did in '08 or '04 (though maybe not '00) because all those Glenn Greenwald rants will have their effect (although the Lib will probably be the principal beneficiary of those).
Still, the AE failure is making 2012 look less like 1948 and more like 2000. What that means for the outcome I don't know, but it means the two-party system still rules.