The Fix: Third parties

Why Ross Perot is made for the 2012 race

Remember Ross Perot?

Texas billionaire Ross Perot laughs after saying "Watch my lips," in response to reporters asking when he plans to formally enter the Presidential race. Questions came May 5, 1992 in New York City where Perot was speaking before the American Newspapers Publishers Association. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
The Texas billionaire, who ran twice for president in the 1990s, has the distinction of being the last third party candidate to become a major factor in a national race. (Perot took 19 percent nationwide in 1992.)

While Perot was a major political story twenty years ago, a look at the political landscape in 2012 suggests the Texan might well have been a man ahead of his time.

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Americans Elect: the third party’s latest death knell

The United States is still not ready for a third party.

Americans Elect, the group that has spent the last two years securing ballot access for a yet-to-be-named middle ground presidential candidate, wound up running into a significant problem: Finding a candidate.

The group announced late Monday that no candidate has attained the level of support he or she would need to even be considered at the group’s online convention next month, and the deadline for candidates to qualify has passed. That leaves the group with ballot access in more than half the states — including many swing states — but no candidate to actually put on the ballot.

Buddy Roemer took more votes than anybody in the Americans Elect nominating process, and he was still well shy of qualifying for the convention. (Sarah L. Voisin — The Washington Post)

The group says it will meet Thursday to decide whether to press on.

“We’re talking to our delegates and board on Thursday, and we’re going to make a decision once we confer with them,” Americans Elect spokeswoman Ileana Wachtel told The Washington Post.

The episode is just the latest proof that, while many Americans say they want a third party or independent candidate, the institutional and motivational barriers are often too much to overcome.

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