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Photo: Michael Reaves / Getty Image

Unite America, formerly the Centrist Project, is launching the first-ever bloc of five independent candidates running for Senate and governor across the U.S. It's an effort to capitalize on the vacuum created by the intense polarization the U.S. has experienced in recent years.

Why it matters: We've seen several centrist campaigns like this before, and none have been overly successful in challenging the country's two-party system. But the group and its candidates argue that the current state of extreme partisan politics in America, something that most Americans say they are dissatisfied with, creates an opportunity for them to move the needle forward.

"There are a lot of challenges around this, but because the political situation [in the U.S.] is so bad, we're actually the best game in town. To the skeptics, I'd ask, do you think the status quo is going to change itself? The answer is almost always no. Politics is not a self-correcting system."
— Unite America founder Charles Wheelan

The candidates: Craig O’Dear of Missouri and Neal Simon of Maryland are running for Senate, while current Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska, State Treasurer Terry Hayes of Maine, and Greg Orman of Kansas are running for governor.

The data: According to Gallup, roughly 61% of Americans today think a third major party is needed in the U.S. — the highest Gallup has recorded. Meanwhile, just 34% think the Republican and Democratic parties suffice.

Yes, but: Independents claim nearly every major election year as "their year," but the strength of the two-party duopoly always wins out. Wheelan says his team recognizes this. "The movement will take a couple election cycles to fulfill, but we're getting the ball rolling. Every time you run a high quality person in a race they can win, we're moving forward."

Go deeper

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

8 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.