It was perhaps the most well-funded start to an aspirational “third party” in the last few decades, and it had plenty of higher-profile support.  Americans Elect has already qualified for the general election ballot in 27 states.  The organization asked people to pick its nominees in a big on-line effort, which produced … no contenders:

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.

Fear not, brave independents.  Americans Elect plans to continue their efforts to find a nominee, just as soon as they figure out how to bypass their own rules to do it.  This will give the nominee credibility, apparently:

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.

Every step of the way, AE has conferred with its community before making major decisions. We will do the same this week before determining next steps for the immediate future. AE will announce the results of these conversations on Thursday, May 17.

No one should be surprised that AE fell on its face.  Two weeks ago, Politico reported that the nominating process had to be put off because they couldn’t find anyone qualified to run.  Their last hope was a former US Comptroller General named David Walker, who might possibly have been the most obscure person ever mentioned for a much-ballyhooed third-party launch.  Even John Anderson in 1980 had more name recognition.  Alexander Burns and Emily Schultheis put their collective finger on the central conceit of Americans Elect:

Walker has neither. What he — or another independent candidate — might have, is the sympathy of elites who cling to the view that the right common-sense leader could march into Washington and set the nation’s house in order.

The people behind this effort somehow believed that they represented voters better than voters represent themselves through party registration, and like a lot of elites, thought that they could handpick voter choices better than the voters.  The Tea Party has much more resonance as a self-organized group of active voters even without the aspirations of becoming an actual political party, and they do a better job of picking their leaders, too.