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With Zero Candidates on Target to Qualify for its Ballot, Americans Elect Postpones its Election

Americans Elect Draft Participation as of February 5 2012, compared to Republican Caucus and Primary Participation as of February 5 2012

On January 31 2012, Americans Elect opened up the qualifying round of voting in the first-ever online, proprietary, corporate-run presidential nomination. Starting that morning, Americans Elect delegates could visit this page to draft possible presidential contenders and cast votes in support of qualifying those draft contenders for the Americans Elect nomination. Under the rules in place when this round of drafting and voting began, political insiders had to nab 10,000 votes of support by April 3 2012 to qualify for the ballot, and political outsiders had to gain 50,000 votes of support.

But very quickly, a problem emerged. 24 hours later, on the morning of February 1 2012, only 404 votes of support had been registered for 37 presidential contenders. The top 5 contenders (Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, Buddy Roemer, Mike Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders) had on average gained 55 votes of support apiece. Even Ron Paul, the most supported contender, had only gained 98 votes of support on Day 1. That’s far from the pace of over 159 votes/day needed for a contender to reach 10,000 votes by April 3. For political outsiders seeking to run a grassroots campaign, the needed 794 votes/day weren’t anywhere close to appearing.

And so, on February 1 2012, Americans Elect leadership met to pass revision to the ballot qualification process. Under the new rules proposed and passed February 1, presidential contenders would have until May 15, not April 3, to gather the threshold number of votes of support. These rule changes, made with the drafting process already underway, reduce the needed pace of supporting votes down to 95/day.

Even so, the results as of 8 o’clock this morning, five days and about two hours after the draft-vote began, should not be encouraging to Americans Elect. The following are results for the 20 most popular draft candidates. Only two candidates, Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman, have managed to meet the pace needed to reach even the new extended deadline of May 15.

#1. Ron Paul: 743 votes of support (148.6/day)

#2. Jon Huntsman: 548 votes of support (109.6/day)

#3. Bernie Sanders: 393 votes of support (78.6/day)

#4. Barack Obama: 289 votes of support (57.8/day)

#5. Mike Bloomberg: 225 votes of support (45.0/day)

#6. Buddy Roemer: 194 votes of support (38.8/day)

#7. Stephen Colbert: 178 votes of support (35.6/day)

#8. Gary Johnson: 123 votes of support (24.6/day)

#9. Jon Stewart: 117 votes of support (23.4/day)

#10. Elizabeth Warren: 92 votes of support (18.4/day)

#11. Hillary Clinton: 59 votes of support (11.8/day)

#12. Howard Dean: 56 votes of support (11.2/day)

#13. Colin Powell: 55 votes of support (11.0/day)

#14. Rocky Anderson: 48 votes of support (9.6/day)

#15. Dennis Kucinich: 46 votes of support (9.2/day)

#16. Russell Feingold: 43 votes of support (8.6/day)

#17. Ralph Nader: 41 votes of support (8.2/day)

#18. Al Gore: 34 votes of support (6.8/day)

#19. Condoleezza Rice: 32 votes of support (6.4/day)

#20. Jill Stein: 32 votes of support (6.4/day)

On January 16, Americans Elect complained that no presidential nomination bid should be possibly determined after “Only 369,448 Votes.” That was the tally of the Iowa Republican Caucus and New Hampshire Republican Primary. Of course, the Republican presidential race has turned out to be more competitive than that. It was not until the Florida primary that one presidential candidate had managed to win more than one state, and by that time 2,637,223 people had voted. Yesterday, about 30,000 Nevadans added their numbers to the participants in the Republican nominating process.

The total number of supporting votes in the Americans Elect process so far, tallied up at 8 AM this morning, is 4,066, about 1.5 thousandths the number of people participating in the GOP presidential nomination to date… and as we’ve noted, only two of the contenders are on pace to meet the qualifying goal.

What happens next? With these low numbers, a relatively small draft candidacy campaign with determined and coordinated participants could swamp the Americans Elect nominating process, carrying their preferred candidate to victory. On the other hand, few people might be attracted to the Americans Elect process and only one or two candidates might qualify for the AE ballot under the current rules. If the low participation rates continue, will Americans Elect proceed with just those candidates? Will it change its rules once again with the voting process underway?

Wait and see.


Update: in the comments section below, Joshua reminds me (thanks again, Joshua) that draft efforts for Americans Elect canddates are even farther behind the needed pace than I’ve portrayed here. It’s not just that insider candidates need to get 10,000 votes of support — they need 1,000 votes of support from people in each of 10 states. If there are more than 1,000 votes in one state, they don’t count, and if there are votes outside of the top 10 states, they don’t count either. The outsiders have a similar, even tougher rule: 5,000 votes in each of 10 states.

I don’t know if Americans Elect intended it this way, but this rule probably means that people’s support from small-population states like Wyoming and South Dakota won’t be counted, and that the level of support from a person living in a huge state like New York, Texas and California will not count for very much once the 1,000-support-votes threshold is met in one of those states… if any candidate makes that threshold at all.

16 comments to With Zero Candidates on Target to Qualify for its Ballot, Americans Elect Postpones its Election

  • Bill

    Among Americans Elect Corporation’s many sins, it is most guilty (from a Machiavellian perspective, anyway) of failing dismally at engaging and maintaining its members’ enthusiasm. The numbers you publish here certainly indicate that, and here are some other numbers which speak to this failing, as well:

    Since August of last year, when I started closely monitoring in real time the number of people signing up as members at Americans Elect Corporation’s web site, membership growth rate has gone through three distinct phases (I’d love to include a graph here, but I can’t since image tags aren’t allowed):

    Aug through Oct 2011: about 500 new members per day
    Nov 2011: almost 11,000 new members per day
    Jan 2012 through today: 470 new members per day

    [editor's note: the image below is added manually at Bill's request. It's his, based on his research. Thanks, Bill.]

    That burst of sign-ups in November corresponds with a very expensive and high-visibility advertising campaign (running big ads on Politico and other politics-oriented web sites). But as soon as it ended, membership growth slumped to levels even lower than before the ad campaign. As of today, AECorp has just under 369,000 members. Bearing in mind that some number of these will not qualify as ‘delegates’ (i.e., aren’t registered voters) and some (probably large) number signed up on a whim and will never return, I suspect AECorp will be hard-pressed to field even 100,000 committed, active ‘delegates’.

    Just as with membership growth, member participation rates have been dropping, too. In October of 2011, 2.3% of ‘members’ went on to sign up at AECorp’s forum site (hosted by GetSatisfaction) to engage in really open, freewheeling discussion with other members (the kind of activity which signifies real engagement with the organization). Today, that number is down to 1.8%.

    1.8% of 369,000 equals just a hair under 6,700 actively engaged members (tops). This explains the abysmal turnout for the candidate draft voting; nobody’s listening.

    Americans Elect Corporation’s puppet master, Peter Ackerman, clearly learned a lot from his failed attempt to throw the 2008 election with his stillborn Unity08 organization…Americans Elect Corporation is a much stronger, much higher-profile, much better bankrolled effort in the same direction…but one thing he clearly hasn’t learned: if you consistently treat people like fools, most of them will turn around and walk away. And that’s what’s happening with AECorp’s members.

    Say goodnight, Petey. Don’t say we didn’t try to get you to see the error of your ways.

    • Bill, sorry the images don’t play well with the comments. It’s just a feature of the software we use. If you want to send me an e-mail (retorts@irregulartimes.com), I’d be happy to add it into your comment manually.

      And thanks for the information. It’s indicative of some broader problems Americans Elect has in engaging the public.

  • Joshua

    The situation for AE in terms of getting candidates to qualify is even worse than this post makes it look. Since an “insider” candidate has to garner 1,000 clicks from each of 10 states (and an “outsider” candidate has to get 5,000 clicks from each of 10 states),. the way to check whether a candidate is on pace to qualify is to look at the clicks they have received from their 10th-best state, and see if that state is on pace to get 1,000 clicks by the deadline (or 5,000 for an outsider). Not even Ron Paul is on pace to get 1,000 clicks from his 10th-best state.

  • Charles Manning (manning120)

    Americans Elect isn’t user friendly and is mostly — almost entirely — ignored by the MSM. I haven’t heard of any of the “draft candidates” asking their followers to participate in Americans Elect. I also was unaware that any kind of competition among candidates (cf. primary elections for the major parties) was going on.

    Maybe if one of the candidates — my favorite is Rock Anderson — makes a major effort, Americans Elect could become a factor. Seems doubtful that’s going to happen.

    • I’d agree with you except for the bit about the mainstream media ignoring AE. Americans Elect has repeatedly been the subject of:

      LA Times
      New York Times
      Washington Post
      Chicago Tribune
      Christian Science Monitor
      [lots of local papers, including repeatedly my local paper]
      CNN
      MSNBC
      FOX News
      ABC News
      CBS News
      NBC News
      PBS Newshour
      The Sunday TV News Shows
      Politico
      Slate
      Huffington Post

      There isn’t a single major media outlet in America they haven’t been on. And then there are the ad buys — for a week or two, you couldn’t load up NYTimes.com without seeing an Americans Elect ad. The thing is just that the American people don’t seem to be buying what Americans Elect is selling.

  • Bill

    There’s an interesting phenomenon just beginning to develop, which could well seal Americans Elect Corporation’s fate. Ron Paul twitterati are currently tweeting a drive to get Paulists to join AE and vote for him (and there’s the reason why he’s now #1 in the poll).

    This illustrates yet another of AECorp’s many fatal flaws. Any sufficiently well-organized gang of goons can band together, crash the gates en mass, and swing the vote for their guy. AE goes out of its way to isolate delegates from each other…we don’t know who our fellow delegates are. So most of us rank-and-filers can’t effectively organize (an ability which is elsewhere usually considered to be an important part of the democratic process). Outside groups, however, such as the Paulists, can organize elsewhere and then pour through the gates and take over, while the rank and file watches helplessly.

    If the Paulists are successful in qualifying their guy (and it wouldn’t surprise me if they are…fanatics are always tough to beat back), AECorp is going to have one helluva mess on its hands. Either it will have to hand the nomination to Paul (and kiss its putative ‘centrist’ position goodbye by nominating an ass-hat radical even Republicans wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole), or else the fearsome Candidate Certification Committee will have to emerge from its secret Star Chamber, step into the process, and exercise its power under the Bylaws to disqualify him by fiat (and thereby kiss goodbye any pretense of AE being a democratic process).

    This is going to be really interesting….

    • Bill

      A friend reminds me that there is yet a third way that Americans Elect Corporation could respond to the ‘barbarians at the gate’ threat posed by Ron Paul or other besiegers — one which would save face while keeping everything under tight control: it could simply fiddle the vote results to insure that Paul isn’t credited with enough votes to qualify him. Because Americans Elect conducts its votes in a perfectly opaque manner which cannot be validated by outside parties…and, as a non-profit social welfare organization it cannot be taken to court to have its internal vote results overturned…it can do this if it wishes to. Recall that the corporation’s Bylaws grant its Board of Directors (i.e., Peter Ackerman and his minions) “…extraordinary authority and power to take or compel any action necessary to ensure that the purpose of Americans Elect is not defeated by the acts or omissions of any persons or parties….”, so rigging the vote would be perfectly consistent with AECorp’s rules, and entirely legal…and no one would ever know….

    • The whole portrayal of Ron Paul as not a centrist is interesting to me. I think it’s this myth that he’s going up against the Powers That Be, when really, he’s into letting businesses do whatever they want to do to the American people, without regulation. Pollute the skies? Hell, why not? In 2008, Ron Paul was in the top 20 biggest money-grabbers in the House from the banks in his campaign financing. He was in the top 10 House recipients of money from the energy industry. Ron Paul may have a folksy edge in his presentation, but I fail to see how he and Americans Elect’s pro-business tilt are incompatible.

  • I’m curious, given that AE is registered in most (all?) states on the ballot as the “American’s Elect” party ticket, are they prepared to deal with the states that have strict mandates to how parties run their primaries? (IE have to be done on public ballots as one requirement) I don’t think they realize the can of worms they’re opening up there.

    • Bill

      Americans Elect Corporation makes up its own rules as it goes along; legal requirements are for the ‘little people’. No one has taken them to court…yet.

  • Lee Mortimer

    Ron Paul doesn’t need Americans Elect to get on the general election ballot. The Libertarians consistently get on the ballot in every state and the District of Columbia. If after Paul has done what he wants in the Republican primary and decides to run as an independent, the Libertarian Party nomination would be his for the asking.

  • Rick

    Does anyone else think their candidate selection process is nothing more than window dressing for a preordained conclusion?

    One more in a long line of actions that demonstrate reason for mistrust.

    Has anyone looked at their vetting process?
    Did Ackerman do any checking before he hired APC?
    Michael Arno’s misjudgements and misconduct as it relates to peoples private information, his associations with internet predators, and the ‘famous Arno porn collection’ (he stopped bragging about that around the same time this contract started) are all common knowledge and public record. Add to that a compulsive obsession with Eastern Europe (a region famous for lacking any modicum of “Age Of Consent Laws”) and I personally would have found another firm, with less internal baggage
    .
    Or, was this leverage buyout specialist looking for a firm he could compromise? Everything seemed to change when Arno had to refund nearly $30,000.00 according to opensecrets.org . This wasn’t the only time clients demanded refunds from Mike Arno. It had become a regular occurance, along with unpaid vendors, since the death of Bill Arno and the arrest of Rich Nicholas.
    http://www.kcra.com/news/9733457/detail.html

    Raw sewage by any other name still smells the same.
    Just my $0.02
    R.F.

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