The restless political middle class in US is staking out a controversial plan to insert itself into the 2012 election.
A bipartisan group of political strategists and donors known as Americans Elect has raised $22 million and is likely to place a third presidential candidate on the ballot next year. The goal is to provide an alternative to President Obama and the GOP nominee and break the tradition of a Democrat-vs-Republican lineup.
The effort could represent a promising new chapter for political moderates, who see a wide-open middle in the political landscape as congressional gridlock and bitter partisan fights have driven down favorability ratings for both parties.
"Voters are saddened by the inability of people in Washington to deal with the issues that are important to them," said the group's chief executive, Kahlil Byrd, a Republican strategist.
The group is relying on an ambitious plan to hold an online political convention that would treat registered voters like fans of American Idol, giving everyone a shot at picking a favorite candidate.
All of this has the potential to affect the 2012 election, said Nicco Mele, a political theorist. Americans Elect's online nomination process could be "potentially disruptive" to the presidential campaign, he said.
Some longtime political hands worry that no credible candidate will want to be the first guinea pig in the effort. Others warn that the group could become an experiment in technology gone wrong.
(In exclusive partnership with The Washington Post)