The United States presidential election of 2000
was a contest between Republican
candidate George W. Bush
then-governor of Texas
and son of
former president George H.
(1989-1993), and Democratic
candidate Al Gore
, then-Vice President
. Bill Clinton
, the incumbent President
, was vacating the
position after serving the maximum two terms allowed by the
. Bush narrowly won the November 7
election, with 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266 (with one elector
abstaining in the official tally).
election was noteworthy for a controversy over the awarding of
Florida's 25 electoral votes, the subsequent recount
process in that state, and the unusual event of the winning
candidate having received fewer popular votes than the
It was the closest election since 1876
, and the
second (after 1888
since that election in which the electoral vote did not reflect the
popular vote. Attorney and political activist Ralph
Nader ran as the candidate of the Association of State Green
Parties and his running mate was Native American
activist Winona LaDuke of Minnesota.
Democratic Party nomination
Gore, Vice President of the United States, official portrait
Al Gore of TennesseeImage:Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ).jpg|Former
Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey
incumbent Vice President, Al Gore of
Tennessee was a consistent front-runner for the Democratic
nomination, with his only serious challenge coming from former
Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey. Other prominent Democrats mentioned as
possible contenders included Nebraska Senator
Bob Kerrey, Missouri Congressman
Dick Gephardt, Minnesota Senator Paul
Wellstone, and famous actor and director Warren Beatty, who declined to run.
these, only Wellstone formed an exploratory committee
In addition to Gore's advantage as the incumbent Vice President,
Bradley was not the candidate of a major faction or coalition of
blocs. Running an insurgency campaign, Bradley positioned himself
as the alternative to Gore, who was a founding member of the
. While former basketball star Michael Jordan
campaigned for him in the
early primary states, Bradley announced his intention to campaign
"in a different way" by conducting a positive campaign of "big
ideas". The focus of his campaign was a plan to spend the
record-breaking budget surplus on a variety of social welfare
programs to help the poor and the middle-class, along with campaign
finance reform and gun control
Gore easily defeated Bradley in the primaries, largely because of
support from the Democratic Party establishment and Bradley's poor
showing in the Iowa caucus, where Gore successfully painted Bradley
as aloof and indifferent to the plight of farmers. The closest
Bradley came to a victory was his 50â€“46 loss to Gore in the New
Hampshire primary. On March 14, Al Gore won the Democratic
None of Bradley's delegates were allowed to vote for him, so Gore
won the nomination unanimously at the Democratic National
. Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman
was nominated for Vice President by voice vote.
became the first Jewish American
to be chosen for this position by a major party. Gore chose
Lieberman over five finalists.
Delegate TotalsDemocratic National Convention Tally
Republican Party nomination
Bush of TexasImage:John McCain official photo
McCain of Arizona
Image:Alan Keyes.jpg|Former U.S. ECOSOC Ambassador Alan
Keyes of Maryland
Image:Steve_Forbes.jpg|Businessman Steve Forbes
of New York
Image:Orrin Hatch, official 110th Congress
Orrin Hatch of UtahImage:Elizabeth Dole official
photo.jpg|Former Secretary of Labor
Elizabeth Dole of
author Pat Buchanan of
VirginiaImage:Quayle.jpg|Former Vice President
Dan Quayle of IndianaImage:Lamar Alexander official
portrait.jpg|Former Secretary of Education
Lamar Alexander of
Image:Robert C Smith.jpg|Senator
Smith of New HampshireImage:John Kasich.jpg|Representative
John Kasich of Ohio
Image:Harold E. Stassen.jpg|Former Governor Harold E. Stassen of Minnesota
Several Republican candidates appeared on the national scene to
challenge Gore's candidacy.
George W. Bush became the early front-runner, acquiring
unprecedented funding and a broad base of leadership support based
on his governorship of Texas and the name recognition and
connections of the Bush family. Several aspirants withdrew before
the Iowa Caucus
because they were unable to secure funding and endorsements
sufficient to remain competitive with Bush. These included Elizabeth Dole
, Lamar Alexander
Robert C. Smith
dropped out to run for the Reform Party nomination.
That left Bush, John McCain
, Alan Keyes
, Gary Bauer
, and Orrin Hatch
as the only candidates still in the
On January 24, Bush won the Iowa caucus with 41% of the vote.
Forbes came in second with 30% of the vote. Keyes received 14%,
Bauer 9%, McCain 5%, and Hatch 1%. Hatch dropped out. On the
national stage, Bush was portrayed in the media as the
establishment candidate. McCain, with the support of many moderate
Republicans and Independents, portrayed himself as a crusading
insurgent who focused on campaign
On February 1, McCain won a 49%â€“30% victory over Bush in the
. Gary Bauer dropped out. After coming in third in
Delaware Forbes dropped out, leaving three candidates. In the
, Bush soundly defeated McCain. Some credit Bush's win
to the fact that it was the first major closed primary in 2000,
which negated McCain's strong advantage among independents. Some
McCain supporters blamed it on the Bush campaign, accusing them of
mudslinging and dirty tricks, such as push
that implied that McCain's adopted Bangladeshi-born
daughter was an African-American child he fathered out of wedlock.
While McCain's loss in South Carolina damaged his campaign, he won
both Michigan and his home state of Arizona on February 22.
February 24, McCain criticized Bush for accepting the endorsement
of Bob Jones
University despite its policy banning interracial
On February 28 McCain also referred to Rev. Jerry Falwell
and televangelist Pat Robertson
as "agents of intolerance", a
term he would later distance himself from during his 2008 bid
party's nomination. He lost the state of Virginia to Bush on
February 29. On Super Tuesday
7, Bush won New York, Ohio, Georgia, Missouri, California,
Maryland, and Maine. McCain won Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut,
and Massachusetts, but dropped out of the race. On March 10, Alan
Keyes got 21% of the vote in Utah. Bush took the majority of the
remaining contests and won the Republican nomination on March 14,
winning his home state of Texas and his brother Jeb's
home state of Florida among others. At the
Republican National Convention in Philadelphia George W. Bush
accepted the Nomination of the Republican party.
- Governor George W. Bush 1526
- Senator John McCain 275
- Ambassador Dr. Alan Keyes 23
- Businessman Steve Forbes 10
- Gary Bauer 2
- None of the Names Shown 2
- Uncommitted 1
- Senator Orrin Hatch 0
Governor Bush told former Secretary of Defense
to head up a commission to
help select a running mate for him, but ultimately, Bush decided
that Cheney should be the Vice Presidential nominee. While the U.S.
Constitution does not specifically disallow a president and a
vice-president from the same state, it does
elector from casting both of his or her votes for persons from his
or her own state. Accordingly, Cheneyâ€”who had been a resident
of Texas for nearly
10 yearsâ€”changed his voting registration back to Wyoming.
Had Cheney not done this, either he or Governor Bush would have
forfeited their electoral votes from the Texas electors, a
situation whichâ€”given the eventual razor-thin margin of victory for
the Republicans that yearâ€”could have resulted in a Democratic
Vice-President serving under a Republican President.
Other mentioned candidates:
Note: Some of the endorsers switched positions.
- George W. Bush
- John McCain
- Steve Forbes
- Alan Keyes
- Orrin Hatch
- Lamar Alexander
- Dan Quayle
- John Kasich
Reform Party nomination
nomination went to Pat Buchanan and running mate Ezola Foster of California, over the objections of party founder Ross Perot and despite a rump convention
nomination of John Hagelin by the Perot
faction (see Other nominations below).
In the end, the
sided with Buchanan, and that ticket appeared on 49
of 51 possible ballots.
Association of State Green Parties nomination
Ralph Nader in 2000
The nomination went to Ralph Nader
Connecticut and Winona LaDuke
Minnesota, at the Green Party's National Nominating Convention in
Denver, Colorado. The Green Party appeared on 44 of the
51 ballots nationally (43 states and DC)..
Libertarian Party nomination
National Nominating Convention nominated Harry Browne
of Tennessee and Art Olivier
of California for Vice President.
Browne was nominated on the first ballot and Olivier received the
Vice Presidential nomination on the second ballot. The Libertarian
Party appeared on 50 of 51 ballots.
Constitution Party nomination
Constitution Party nominated Howard Phillips of Virginia for a third time and Curtis Frazier of Missouri.
The Constitution Party was on the ballot in
Natural Law Party nomination
Natural Law Party
held its national convention in Arlington, Virginia, August 31 - September 2, nominating a ticket of
Hagelin/Goldhaber via unanimous decision without a roll-call
The party was on 38 of the 51 ballots
The general election campaign
Although the campaign focused mainly on domestic issues, such as
the projected budget surplus, proposed reforms of Social Security
, health care, and
competing plans for tax relief, foreign policy was often an issue.
administration policies in Somalia, where 18 Americans died in 1993 trying to sort out
warring factions, and in the Balkans, where United States
peacekeeping troops perform a variety of functions.
think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation-building
," Bush said in the second
Bush also pledged to bridge partisan gaps in the nation's capital,
claiming the atmosphere in Washington stood in the way of progress
on necessary reforms. Gore, meanwhile, questioned Bush's fitness
for the job, pointing to gaffes made by Bush in interviews and
speeches and suggesting the Texas governor lacked the necessary
experience to be president.
and the sex scandal
that led up to it cast a
shadow on the campaign, particularly on his vice president's run to
replace him. Republicans, who typically have an advantage with
voters on moral
, strongly denounced the Clinton scandals, particularly
Bush, who made his repeated promise to restore "honor and dignity"
to the White House (a none-too-subtle jab at Clinton) a centerpiece
of his campaign. Gore studiously avoided the Clinton scandals, as
did Lieberman, even though Lieberman had been the first Democratic
senator to denounce Clinton's misbehavior. In fact, some media
observers theorized that Gore actually chose Lieberman in an
attempt to separate himself from Clinton's past misdeeds, and help
blunt the GOP's attempts to link him to his boss. Others pointed to
the passionate kiss Gore gave his wife during the Democratic Convention
as a signal that despite the allegations against Clinton, Gore
himself was a faithful husband. Gore avoided appearing with
Clinton, who was shunted to low visibility appearances in areas
where he was popular. Experts have argued that this cost Gore votes
from some of Clinton's core supporters.
was the most successful of
third-party candidates, drawing 2.74% of the popular vote.
campaign was marked by a traveling tour of "super-rallies"; large
rallies held in sports arenas like Madison Square Garden, with retired talk show
host Phil Donahue as master of
After initially ignoring Nader, the Gore
campaign made a big publicity pitch to (potential) Nader supporters
in the final weeks of the campaign, downplaying Gore's differences
with Nader on the issues and claiming that Gore's ideas were more
similar to Nader's than Bush's were, noting that Gore had a better
chance of winning than Nader. On the other side, the Republican Leadership Council
ran pro-Nader ads in a few states in an effort to split the
"liberal" vote. In the aftermath of the campaign, many Gore
supporters claimed that many of Nader's voters would have supported
Gore, thus siphoning off
would-be Gore votes to throw the election to Bush. Nader dismissed
such concerns, claiming his objective in the campaign was to pass
the 5% threshold so his party would be eligible for matching funds
in future races.
Both vice presidential candidates Dick
and Joe Lieberman
campaigned aggressively in the 2000 presidential election. Both
camps made numerous campaign stops nationwide, often just missing
each other such as when Cheney, Hadassah Lieberman
, and Tipper Gore
attended Chicago's Taste of Polonia
over Labor Day Weekend
exceptions of Florida and Tennessee, Bush carried the Southern states by comfortable
margins and also secured wins in Ohio, Indiana, most of the rural Midwester farming states, most of
the Rocky Mountain states, and Alaska. Gore balanced Bush by
sweeping the Northeastern
United States (with the sole exception of New Hampshire, which Bush won narrowly), most of the Upper Midwest, and all of the Pacific Coast
states of Washington, Oregon, and
California, and carried Hawaii, as well.
night wore on, the returns in a handful of small-to-medium sized
states, including Wisconsin and Iowa, were
extremely close; however it was the state of Florida that would
make clear the winner of the election.
Palm Beach County recount
As the final national
results were tallied the following morning, Bush had clearly won a
total of 246 electoral votes, while Gore had won 255 votes. 270
votes were needed to win. Two smaller states - New Mexico (5 electoral votes) and Oregon (7 electoral votes)
- were still too close to call.
It was Florida (25 electoral
votes), however, that the news media
focused their attention on. Mathematically, Florida's 25 electoral
votes became the key to an election win for either candidate.
Although both New Mexico and Oregon were declared in favor of Gore
over the next few days, Florida's statewide vote took center stage
because that state's winner would ultimately win the election. The
outcome of the election was not known for more than a month after
the balloting ended because of the extended process of counting and
then recounting Florida's presidential ballots.
2000 Palm Beach County voting stand and ballot box
At approximately 7:50 p.m. EST on election day, 10 minutes before
the polls closed in the largely Republican Florida panhandle, which
is in the Central time zone, some television news networks declared
that Gore had carried Florida's 25 electoral votes. They based this
prediction substantially on exit polls
However, in the actual vote tally Bush began to take a wide lead
early in Florida, and by 10 p.m. EST those networks had retracted
that prediction and placed Florida back into the "undecided"
column. At approximately 2:30 a.m., with some 85% of the votes
counted in Florida and Bush leading Gore by more than 100,000
votes, the networks, starting with Fox News, declared that Bush had
carried Florida and therefore had been elected President.
most of the remaining votes to be counted in Florida were located
in three heavily Democratic counties - Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach -
and as their votes were reported Gore began to gain on Bush.
By 4:30 a.m., after all votes were counted, Gore had narrowed
Bush's margin to just over 2,000 votes, and the networks retracted
their predictions that Bush had won Florida and the presidency.
Gore, who had privately conceded the election to Bush, withdrew his
concession. The final result in Florida was slim enough to require
a mandatory recount (by machine) under state law; Bush's lead had
dwindled to about 300 votes by the time it was completed later that
week. A count of overseas military ballots later boosted his margin
to about 900 votes.
the post-electoral controversy revolved around Gore's request for
hand recounts in four counties (Broward, Miami Dade, Palm Beach,
and Volusia), as provided under Florida state law.
Florida Secretary of
State Katherine Harris
announced she would reject any revised totals from those counties
if they were not turned in by November 14, the statutory deadline
for amended returns. The Florida Supreme Court extended the deadline to November 26, a decision
later vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Miami-Dade eventually halted its recount
and resubmitted its original total to the state canvassing board,
while Palm Beach County failed to meet the extended deadline. On
November 26, the state canvassing board certified Bush the winner
of Florida's electors by 537 votes. Gore formally contested the
certified results, but a state court decision overruling Gore was
reversed by the Florida Supreme Court, which ordered a recount of
over 70,000 ballots previously rejected by machine counters. The
U.S. Supreme Court quickly halted the order.
On December 12, the Supreme Court ruled
in a 5â€“4 vote that the Florida Supreme Court's ruling requiring a
statewide recount of ballots was unconstitutional, and that the
Florida recounts could not be completed before a December 12 "safe
harbor" deadline, and should therefore cease and the previously
certified total should hold. The Supreme Court's decision was an
unsigned or "Per Curiam" ruling; the ruling includes a clause which
prevents it from becoming precedent-setting.
Election results by county.
Red indicates counties won by
Bush; Blue indicates those won by
Though Gore came in second in the electoral vote, he received
543,895 more individual votes than Bush. Gore failed to win
the popular vote in his home state, Tennessee, which both he and his father had represented in
the Senate. Gore was the first major-party presidential
candidate to have lost his home state since George McGovern lost South Dakota in 1972.
in Connecticut, the state of his birth.
Bush is also the
first Republican in American history to win the presidency without
winning Vermont or Illinois and the second Republican to win the
presidency without winning California. (James A. Garfield
was the first.)
Source (Electoral and Popular Vote): Federal Elections Commission Electoral and Popular Vote
(a) One faithless elector from the District of
Lett-Simmons, abstained from voting in protest of the District's lack of voting
representation in the United States
Congress. (D.C. has a non-voting delegate to
Congress.) She had been expected to vote for Gore/Lieberman.
Guam has no votes in the Electoral College, they have
held a straw poll for their presidential preferences since
In 2000, the results were Bush 18,075 (51.6%), Gore
16,549 (47.2%), and Browne 420 (1.2%).
States where the margin of victory was less than 5% (139 electoral
- New Mexico,
- New Hampshire,
After Florida was decided and Gore conceded, Texas Governor George
W. Bush became the President-elect
began forming his transition
. In a speech on December 13, in the Texas House of
Representatives chamber, Bush stated he was reaching across party
lines to bridge a divided America, saying, "the President of the
United States is the President of every single American, of every
race, and every background."
On January 6, 2001, a joint session of
met to certify the electoral vote
members of the House of
, most of them Democratic members of the
, rose one-by-one to file objections to the electoral
votes of Florida. However, according to an 1877
law, any such
objection had to be sponsored by both a representative and a
. No senator would
co-sponsor these objections, deferring to the Supreme Court's
ruling. Therefore, Gore, who presided in his capacity as President of the Senate
ruled each of these objections out of order.
Subsequently, the joint session of Congress certified the electoral
votes from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Bush took
the oath of office on January 20, 2001. He would serve for the next
8 years. Meanwhile, Gore declined to run for president in 2004 and
Ultimately, the Media Consortium hired the National Opinion Research
at the University of Chicago to examine 175,010 ballots
that were discounted; these ballots contained under-votes (votes
with no choice made for president) and over-votes (votes made with
more than one choice marked). Their goal was not to deduce who
actually won the election, but to determine the reliability and
accuracy of the systems used for the voting process.
The first independent recount was conducted by The Miami Herald and
USA Today. The Commission found that under most recount scenarios,
Bush would have won the election, but Gore would have won using the
most generous standards.
Since the 2000 presidential election was so close in Florida, the
United States government and state governments pushed for election reform
to be prepared by the
States Presidential Election
. Many of Florida's year 2000
election night problems stemmed from usability
and ballot design factors with voting
systems, including the potentially confusing "butterfly ballot
." Many voters had
difficulties with the paper based punch card
voting machines and
were either unable to understand the required process for voting or
unable to perform the process. This resulted in an unusual amount
(voting for more candidates
than is allowed) and undervotes
for fewer than the minimum candidates, including none at all). Many
undervotes were potentially caused by either voter error or errors
with the punch card paper ballots resulting in hanging, dimpled, or
A proposed solution to these problems was the installation of
modern electronic voting
The United States Presidential Election of 2000 spurred the debate
about election and voting reform, but it did not end it.
Exit polling and declaration of vote winners
The Voter News Service
reputation was damaged by its treatment of Florida's presidential
vote in 2000. Breaking its own guidelines, VNS called the state as
a win for Gore 12 minutes before polls closed in the Florida panhandle
. Although most of the
state is in the Eastern Time Zone, counties in the Florida
panhandle, located in the Central Time Zone, had not yet closed its
polls. More seriously, inconsistent polling results caused the VNS
to change its call twice, first from Gore to Bush, and then to "too
close to call".
Also, charges of media bias were levied against the networks by
Republicans. They claimed that the networks called states more
quickly for Al Gore than for George W. Bush. Congress held hearings
on this matter and the networks claimed to have no intentional bias
in their election night reporting. However, a study of the calls
made on election night 2000 indicated that states carried by Gore
were called more quickly than states won by Bush; however, notable
Bush states, like New Hampshire and Florida, were very close, and
close Gore states like New Mexico were called late too.
In the aftermath of the election, the Help America Vote Act
passed to help states upgrade their election technology in the
hopes of preventing similar problems in future elections.
Unfortunately, the electronic voting systems that many states
purchased to comply with HAVA actually caused problems in the
presidential election of 2004.
Some Democrats blame third party candidate Ralph Nader
, claiming he split votes with Gore.
Nader received 97,000 votes in Florida. According to the Washington
Post, Voter News Service
polling showed that "47% of Nader voters would have gone for Gore
if it had been a two-man race, and only 21% for Bush." Based on
these theoretical numbers for Florida, Gore would have had a margin
of some 25,000 votes over Bush if it were to have been a two way
election. Many commentators believe that if Nader had
not run, Gore would have won both New Hampshire and Florida, winning the
election with 296 electoral votes.
(Gore only needed one of
the two to win.) Defenders of Nader, including Dan Perkins
, argued that the margin in Florida
was small enough that Democrats could blame any number of
third-party candidates for the defeat, including Workers World Party
candidate Monica Moorehead
, who received 1,500 votes.
Nader's reputation was hurt by this perception, and may have
hindered his goals as an activist. For example, Mother Jones
evidence of how rank-and-file liberals have turned against Nader,
one need look no further than the empire he created. Public Citizen
, the organization (Nader)
founded in 1971, has a new fundraising problemâ€”its founder. After
the election, contributions dropped... When people inquire about
Nader's relationship to the organization, Public Citizen sends out
a letter that begins with a startling new disclaimer: 'Although
Ralph Nader was our founder, he has not held an official position
in the organization since 1980 and does not serve on the board.
Public Citizenâ€”and the other groups that Mr. Nader foundedâ€”act
Ironically, this is precisely opposite of the view held by one
member of the Democratic
senior staff. In the January 24, 2001 issue
of the DLC's Blueprint magazine
, Democratic party strategist and
DLC chair Al From
"I think they're wrong on all counts. The assertion
that Nader's marginal vote hurt Gore is not borne out by polling
data. When exit pollers asked voters how they would have voted in a
two-way race, Bush actually won by a point. That was better than he
did with Nader in the race."
- 2000 Presidential General Election Results
- York, Anthony (Sep. 2, 1999) "Life of the Party?" Salon News.
- Bob Bickford "2000 Presidential Status Summary
(table)" Ballot Access News June 29, 2000
- Richard Winger "Natural Law Convention"
Ballot Access News October 1, 2000 Volume 16, Number
- Rather, Dan.
CBSNews.com. Out of the Shadows. Aug. 9, 2000.
- The New York Times. When a Kiss Isn't Just a Kiss. Aug. 20,
- Meckler, Laura (Oct. 27, 2000) "GOP Group to Air Pro-Nader TV Ads."
- Florida Ballots Project
- Uscinski, Joseph. 2007. "Too Close Too Call? Uncertainty and
Bias in Election Night Reporting" Social Science Quarterly vol.
- Margolis, John (July/August 2001) Nader Unrepentant. Mother Jones.
- Tribe, Laurence H.: Erog .v Hsub and its Disguises: Freeing
Bush v. Gore From its Hall of Mirrors, 115 Harvard Law Review 170