Friday, July 3, 2015

The United States presidential election of 2000 was the 54th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 7, 2000. The contest was between Republican candidate George W. Bush, the incumbent governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush, and Democratic candidate Al Gore, the incumbent Vice President.

Incumbent Democratic President Bill Clinton was not eligible to serve a third term, and Vice President Gore was able to secure the Democratic nomination with relative ease. Bush was seen as the early favorite for the Republican nomination, and despite a contentious primary battle with Senator John McCain and other candidates, secured the nomination by Super Tuesday. Many third party candidates also ran, most prominently Ralph Nader. Bush chose former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney as his running mate, and Gore chose Senator Joe Lieberman as his. Both major party candidates focused primarily on domestic issues, such as the budget, tax relief, and reforms for federal social insurance programs, though foreign policy was not ignored. Clinton and Gore did not often campaign together, a deliberate decision resulting from the Lewinsky sex scandal two years prior.

The result of the election hinged on Florida, where the margin of victory triggered a mandatory recount. Litigation in select counties started additional recounts, and this litigation ultimately reached the United States Supreme Court. The Court's contentious decision in Bush v. Gore, announced on December 12, 2000, ended the recounts, effectively awarding Florida's votes to Bush and granting him the victory. This marked the fourth election in U.S. history in which the eventual winner failed to win a plurality of the popular vote (after the elections of 1824, 1876, and 1888). Later studies have reached conflicting opinions on who would have won the recount had it been allowed to proceed.

Democratic Party nomination

Democratic candidates

  • Al Gore, Vice President of the United States from Tennessee
  • Bill Bradley, former U.S. Senator from New Jersey (withdrew on March 9, 2000 and endorsed Al Gore)

Candidates gallery

Al Gore of Tennessee was a consistent front-runner for the nomination. Other prominent Democrats mentioned as possible contenders included Bob Kerrey, Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt, Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, and famous actor and director Warren Beatty, who declined to run. Of 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 centrist Democratic Leadership Council. 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 nomination.

None of Bradley's delegates were allowed to vote for him, so Gore won the nomination unanimously at the Democratic National Convention. Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman was nominated for Vice President by voice vote. Lieberman became the first Jewish American ever to be chosen for this position by a major party. Gore chose Lieberman over five finalists.

Delegate totals:

  • Vice President Albert Gore Jr. 4328
  • Abstentions 9

Republican Party nomination

Republican candidates
  • George W. Bush, Governor of Texas
  • John McCain, Senator from Arizona (withdrew on March 9, 2000 and endorsed George W. Bush)
  • Alan Keyes, former U.S. ECOSOC Ambassador from Maryland (withdrew on July 25, 2000 and endorsed George W. Bush)
  • Steve Forbes, businessman from New Jersey (withdrew on February 10, 2000 and endorsed John McCain. He then endorsed George W. Bush)
  • Gary Bauer, former Undersecretary of Education from Kentucky (withdrew on February 4, 2000 and endorsed John McCain. He then endorsed George W. Bush)
  • Orrin Hatch, Senator from Utah (withdrew on January 26, 2000 and endorsed George W. Bush)
  • Elizabeth Dole, former Secretary of Labor from North Carolina (withdrew on October 20, 1999 and endorsed George W. Bush)
  • Pat Buchanan, publisher and author from Virginia (withdrew on October 25, 1999 to run for the Reform Party nomination)
  • Dan Quayle, former Vice President from Indiana (withdrew on September 27, 1999 and endorsed George W. Bush)
  • Lamar Alexander, former Governor of Tennessee (withdrew on August 22, 1999 and endorsed George W. Bush)
  • Bob Smith, Senator from New Hampshire (withdrew in October 1999 and endorsed George W. Bush)
  • John Kasich, Representative from Ohio (withdrew in July 1999 and endorsed George W. Bush)
  • Herman Cain, CEO of Godfather's Pizza from Nebraska (withdrew and endorsed Steve Forbes. He then endorsed George W. Bush)

Candidates gallery

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. Former cabinet member George Shultz played an important early role in securing establishment Republican support for Bush. In April 1998, he invited Bush to discuss policy issues with experts including Michael Boskin, John Taylor, and Condoleezza Rice. The group, which was "looking for a candidate for 2000 with good political instincts, someone they could work with", was impressed, and Shultz encouraged him to enter the race. 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, Dan Quayle, Lamar Alexander, and Bob Smith. Pat Buchanan dropped out to run for the Reform Party nomination. That left Bush, John McCain, Alan Keyes, Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, and Orrin Hatch as the only candidates still in the race.

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 reform.

On February 1, McCain won a 49â€"30% victory over Bush in the New Hampshire primary. Gary Bauer dropped out. After coming in third in Delaware Forbes dropped out, leaving three candidates. In the South Carolina primary, Bush soundly defeated McCain. Some McCain supporters blamed it on the Bush campaign, accusing them of mudslinging and dirty tricks, such as push polling 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. The primary election that year also affected the South Carolina State House, when a controversy about the Confederate flag flying over the capitol dome prompted the state legislature to move the flag to a less prominent position at a Civil War memorial on the capitol grounds. Most GOP candidates said the issue should be left to South Carolina voters, though McCain later recanted and said the flag should be removed.

On February 24, McCain criticized Bush for accepting the endorsement of Bob Jones University despite its policy banning interracial dating. 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 for the party's nomination. He lost the state of Virginia to Bush on February 29. On Super Tuesday, March 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.

Delegate totals
  • 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

Bush asked former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney to head up a team to help select a running mate for him, but ultimately, Bush decided that Cheney himself 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 prohibit electors 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 Bush would have forfeited their electoral votes from the Texas electors.

Other mentioned candidates
  • Former Sen. John Danforth of Missouri
  • Gov. John Engler of Michigan
  • Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee
  • Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska
  • Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma
  • Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona
  • Sen. Connie Mack of Florida
  • Gov. George Pataki of New York
  • Gen. Colin Powell of New York
  • Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania
  • Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee

Notable endorsements

Note: Some of the endorsers switched positions.

George W. Bush
  • Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi
  • Former HUD Secretary and 1996 V.P. nominee Jack Kemp of New York
  • Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire
  • Former Governor and White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu of New Hampshire
  • Governor Jane Dee Hull of Arizona
  • Governor John Engler of Michigan
  • Senator John Warner of Virginia
  • Governor Jim Gilmore of Virginia
  • Senator John Ashcroft of Missouri
  • Governor Paul Cellucci of Massachusetts
  • Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin
  • Representative John Thune of South Dakota
John McCain
  • Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona
  • Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee
  • Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio
  • Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska
  • Representative Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
  • Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina
  • Representative Peter T. King of New York
  • Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari
Steve Forbes
  • Representative Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland
  • Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell
  • Sarah Palin, mayor of Wasilla, Alaska
Alan Keyes
  • Representative Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
Orrin Hatch
  • Senator Robert Foster Bennett of Utah
Lamar Alexander
  • Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas
  • Former Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa
Dan Quayle
  • Former Governor Carroll A. Campbell of South Carolina
John Kasich
  • Mike DeWine (initially)
  • Senator George Voinovich of Ohio
  • Representative John Boehner of Ohio

Other nominations

Reform Party nomination

  • Reform Party candidates
    • John B. Anderson of Florida, former U.S. Representative for the 16th Congressional District of Illinois, former Independent Presidential candidate
    • David L. Boren of Oklahoma, former U.S. Senator
    • Pat Buchanan of Virginia, former speechwriter and Senior Advisor to President Richard Nixon
    • Charles E. Collins of Georgia, former school board chairman from Bay County, Florida
    • John Hagelin of Iowa, Ph.D., past and then-current Natural Law Party candidate
    • Ross Perot of Texas, 1996 presidential nominee
    • Donald Trump of New York, left the Republican party due to conflicting ideas on key issues

The 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 Federal Election Commission sided with Buchanan, and that ticket appeared on 49 of 51 possible ballots.

Association of State Green Parties nomination

  • Green Party candidates:
    • Ralph Nader of Connecticutâ€"295
    • Jello Biafra of Californiaâ€"10
    • Stephen Gaskin of Tennesseeâ€"11
    • Joel Kovel of New Yorkâ€"3
    • Abstainâ€"1

The Greens/Green Party USA, the then-recognized national party organization, later endorsed Ralph Nader for president and he appeared on the ballots of 43 states and DC.

Libertarian Party nomination

  • Libertarian Party candidates delegate totals:
    • Harry Browne of Tennesseeâ€"493
    • Don Gorman of New Hampshireâ€"166
    • Jacob Hornberger of Virginiaâ€"120
    • Barry Hess of Arizona 53
    • None of the Aboveâ€"23
    • other write-insâ€"15
    • David Hollist of Californiaâ€"8

The Libertarian Party's 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. Browne appeared on every state ballot except for Arizona, due to a minor dispute between the Libertarian Party of Arizona (who instead nominated L. Neil Smith) and the national Libertarian Party.

Constitution Party nomination

  • Constitution Party candidates
    • Howard Phillips
    • Herb Titus
    • Mathew Zupan

The Constitution Party nominated Howard Phillips of Virginia for a third time and Curtis Frazier of Missouri. The Constitution Party was on the ballot in 41 states.

Natural Law Party nomination

  • John Hagelin of Iowa and Nat Goldhaber of California

The Natural Law Party held its national convention in Arlington, Virginia, August 31 â€" September 2, nominating a ticket of Hagelin/Goldhaber via unanimous decision without a roll-call vote. The party was on 38 of the 51 ballots nationally.

General election campaign

Although the campaign focused mainly on domestic issues, such as the projected budget surplus, proposed reforms of Social Security and Medicare, health care, and competing plans for tax relief, foreign policy was often an issue. Bush criticized Clinton 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. "I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation-building," Bush said in the second presidential debate. 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.

Bill Clinton's impeachment 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 strongly denounced the Clinton scandals, particularly Bush, who made his repeated promise to restore "honor and dignity" to the White House 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.

Ralph Nader was the most successful of third-party candidates, drawing 2.74 percent of the popular vote. His campaign was marked by a traveling tour of large "super-rallies" held in sports arenas like Madison Square Garden, with retired talk show host Phil Donahue as master of ceremonies. After initially ignoring Nader, the Gore campaign made a pitch to (potential) Nader supporters in the final weeks of the campaign, downplaying Gore's differences with Nader on the issues and arguing that Gore's ideas were more similar to Nader's than Bush's were, and 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 Nader acted as a spoiler in the election, that Nader votes would have been cast for Gore, and that Nader threw the election outcome to Bush. Nader dismissed such concerns, claiming his objective in the campaign was to pass the 5-percent threshold so his Green Party would be eligible for matching funds in future races.

Both vice presidential candidates Dick Cheney 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.

Presidential debates

There were three presidential debates:

  • October 3, 2000, at the University of Massachusetts in Boston
  • October 11, 2000, at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • October 17, 2000, at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri

There was also one vice-presidential debate:

  • October 5, 2000, at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky

The Commission on Presidential Debates, formed by Democratic and Republican party leaders, set rules that effectively excluded all but the two major party candidates. Ralph Nader was blocked from attending a closed circuit screening of the first debate in spite of his holding a ticket. He was barred from attending an interview near the site of the third debate in spite of having a "perimeter pass". Nader later sued the CPD for its role in the former incident. A settlement was reached that included an apology to Nader.

Notable expressions and phrases

  • Lockbox/Rainy Day fund: Gore's description of what he would do with the federal budget surplus.
  • Al Gore invented the Internet: an interpretation of a quote by Al Gore in which he said that he "took the initiative in creating the Internet", to say that he was on the committee that funded the research which led to the formation of the Internet.
  • "Strategery," a phrase uttered by Saturday Night Live's parodic Bush character (portrayed by Will Ferrell), which was jokingly picked up by Bush staffers to describe their operations.


With the exceptions of Florida and Gore's home state of Tennessee, Bush carried the Southern states by comfortable margins (including then-President Bill Clinton's home state of Arkansas) and also secured wins in Ohio, Indiana, most of the rural Midwestern 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.

As the 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 decide the winner of the election. 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 statesâ€"New Mexico (5 electoral votes) and Oregon (7 electoral votes)â€"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.

Florida recount

Between 7:50 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. EST on election day, just as the polls closed in the largely Republican Florida panhandle, which is in the Central time zone, all major television news networks (CNN, NBC, FOX, CBS, MSNBC, and ABC) 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 the 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 declared that Bush had carried Florida and therefore had been elected President. However, most of the remaining votes to be counted in Florida were located in three heavily Democratic countiesâ€"Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beachâ€"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.

Most of 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 that order the next day with the concurring opinion that a recount of votes "of questionable legality does [...] threaten irreparable harm" to Bush as "each manual recount produces a degradation of the ballots."

On December 12, the Supreme Court ruled in a 7â€"2 vote that the Florida Supreme Court's ruling requiring a statewide recount of ballots was unconstitutional, and in a 5â€"4 vote 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.

National results

Though Gore came in second in the electoral vote, he received 543,895 more popular 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, making him the first major-party presidential candidate to have lost his home state since George McGovern lost South Dakota in 1972. Furthermore, Gore lost West Virginia, a state that had voted Republican only once in the previous six presidential elections. A victory in either of these two states would have given Gore enough Electoral Votes to win the Presidency.

Bush lost 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, the second Republican to win the presidency without winning California (James A. Garfield in 1880 was the first), and the only winning Republican not to receive any electoral votes from California (Garfield received one vote in 1880).

Source (Electoral and Popular Vote): Federal Elections Commission Electoral and Popular Vote Summary

(a) One faithless elector from the District of Columbia, Barbara 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.
(b) results were Bush 18,075 (51.6%), Gore 16,549 (47.2%), and Browne 420 (1.2%).

State results

States where the margin of victory was less than 5% (139 electoral votes):

  1. Florida, 0.0092%
  2. New Mexico, 0.06%
  3. Wisconsin, 0.22%
  4. Iowa, 0.31%
  5. Oregon, 0.44%
  6. New Hampshire, 1.27%
  7. Minnesota, 2.40%
  8. Missouri, 3.34%
  9. Ohio, 3.51%
  10. Nevada, 3.55%
  11. Tennessee, 3.86%
  12. Pennsylvania, 4.17%

States where the margin of victory was more than 5% but less than 10% (85 electoral votes):

  1. Maine, 5.11%
  2. Michigan, 5.13%
  3. Arkansas, 5.44%
  4. Washington, 5.58%
  5. Arizona, 6.29%
  6. West Virginia, 6.32%
  7. Louisiana, 7.68%
  8. Virginia, 8.04%
  9. Colorado, 8.36%
  10. Vermont, 9.94%

Data comes from, a U.S. Government document.

Votes by state

Maine and Nebraska district results

★Maine and Nebraska each allow for their electoral votes to be split between candidates. In both states, two electoral votes are awarded to the winner of the statewide race and one electoral vote is awarded to the winner of each congressional district. The following table records the official presidential vote tallies for Maine and Nebraska's congressional districts.

Ballot access


After Florida was decided and Gore conceded, Texas Governor George W. Bush became the President-elect and began forming his transition committee. 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."

Post recount

On January 6, 2001, a joint session of Congress met to certify the electoral vote. Twenty members of the House of Representatives, most of them Democratic members of the Congressional Black Caucus, 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 senator. 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 eight years. Gore declined to run for president in 2004 and 2008.

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.

Ultimately, a media consortiumâ€"comprising the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Tribune Co. (parent of the Los Angeles Times), Associated Press, CNN, Palm Beach Post and St. Petersburg Timesâ€"hired the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago to examine 175,010 ballots that were collected from the entire state, not just the disputed counties that were discounted; these ballots contained undervotes (votes with no choice made for president) and overvotes (votes made with more than one choice marked). Their goal was to determine the reliability and accuracy of the systems used for the voting process. The NORC concluded that if the disputes over the validity of all the ballots statewide in question had been consistently resolved and any uniform standard applied, the electoral result would have been reversed and Gore would have won by 107â€"115 votes if only two of the three coders had to agree on the ballot. When counting ballots wherein all three coders agreed, Gore would have won the most restrictive scenario by 127 votes and Bush would have won the most inclusive scenario by 110 votes. Inclusive in media reporting likely refers to including the undervotes (only) as these people were then included in the vote. Whether overvotes were truly nullified in counts is not known.

Subsequent analyses cast further doubt on conclusions that Bush likely would have won anyway, had the U.S. Supreme Court not intervened. An analysis of the NORC data by University of Pennsylvania researcher Steven F. Freeman and journalist Joel Bleifuss concluded that a recount of all uncounted votes using any standard (inclusive, strict, statewide or county by county), Gore would have been the victor. Such a statewide review including all uncounted votes was a very real possibility, as Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis, whom the Florida Supreme Court had assigned to oversee the statewide recount, had scheduled a hearing for December 13 (mooted by the U.S. Supreme Court's final ruling on the 12th) to consider the question of including overvotes as well as undervotes, and subsequent statements by Judge Lewis and internal court documents support the likelihood of including overvotes in the recount. Florida State University professor of public policy Lance deHaven-Smith observed that, even considering only undervotes, "under any of the five most reasonable interpretations of the Florida Supreme Court ruling, Gore does, in fact, more than make up the deficit". Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting's analysis of the NORC study and media coverage of it supports these interpretations and criticizes the coverage of the study by media outlets such as the New York Times and the other media consortium members.

Voting machines

Because 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 2004 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 of overvote (voting for more candidates than is allowed) and undervotes (voting 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 pregnant chad.

A proposed solution to these problems was the installation of modern electronic voting machines. 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's 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 their 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 Iowa, Oregon, New Mexico and Wisconsin were called late as well.

More consequences

In the aftermath of the election, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was 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.

Many Democrats blame third party candidate Ralph Nader, claiming he split votes with Gore. Nader received 97,000 votes in Florida (for comparison, there were 111,251 overvotes). Additionally, Nader received 22,000 votes in New Hampshire, where Bush beat Gore by 7,000 votes. Either state would have won the election for Gore. 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. But the controversy with Nader also drained energy from the Democratic party as divisive debate went on in the months leading up to the election. Nader's reputation was hurt by this perception, and may have hindered his goals as an activist. For example, Mother Jones wrote, "For 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 independently.'"

Democratic party strategist and Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) chair Al From expressed a different view. In the January 24, 2001, issue of the DLC's Blueprint magazine, he wrote, "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."

Press influence on race

In their 2007 book The Nightly News Nightmare: Network Television's Coverage of US Presidential Elections, 1988-2004, professors Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter alleged most media outlets influenced the outcome of the election through the use of horse race journalism. Some liberal supporters of Al Gore argued that the media had a bias against Gore and in favor of Bush. Peter Hart and Jim Naureckas, two commentators for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), called the media "serial exaggerators" and alleged that several media outlets were constantly exaggerating criticism of Gore: they alleged that the media falsely claimed Gore lied when he claimed he spoke in an overcrowded science class in Sarasota, Florida, and also alleged the media supposedly gave Bush a pass on certain issues, such as the fact that Bush allegedly exaggerated how much money he signed into the annual Texas state budget to help the uninsured during his second debate with Gore in October 2000. In the April 2000 issue of Washington Monthly, columnist Robert Parry also alleged that media outlets exaggerated Gore's supposed claim that he "discovered" the Love Canal neighborhood in Niagara Falls, New York during a campaign speech in Concord, New Hampshire on November 30, 1999, when he had only claimed he "found" it after it was already evacuated in 1978 because of chemical contamination. Rolling Stone columnist Eric Boehlert also alleged that media outlets exaggerated criticism of Gore as early as July 22, 1999, when Gore, known for being an environmentalist, had a friend release 500 million gallons of water into a drought stricken river to help keep his boat afloat for a photo shoot; media outlets, Boehlert claimed, exaggerated the actual number of gallons that were released and claimed it was 4 billion.

See also

  • Bush v. Gore
  • Canada and the 2000 United States presidential election
  • History of the United States (1991â€"present)
  • List of close election results
  • Ralph Nader's presidential campaigns
  • United States presidential election, 1876
  • United States Senate elections, 2000
  • First inauguration of George W. Bush


Further reading


  • Brinkley, Douglas (2001). 36 Days: The Complete Chronicle of the 2000 Presidential Election Crisis. Times Books. ISBN 0-8050-6850-3. 
  • Steed, Robert P. (ed.), ed. (2002). The 2000 Presidential Election in the South: Partisanship and Southern Party Systems in the 21st Century. 
  • de La Garza, Rodolfo O. (ed.), ed. (2004). Muted Voices: Latinos and the 2000 Elections. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-7425-3590-8. 
  • Abramson, Paul R.; Rohde, David W.; Aldrich, John Herbert (2002). Change and Continuity in the 2000 Elections. Washington, DC: CQ Press. ISBN 1-56802-740-0. 
  • Bugliosi, Vincent (2001). The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President. Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 1-56025-355-X. 
  • Corrado, Anthony et al. (2001). Election of 2000: Reports and Interpretations. Chatham House Publishers.  CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al. (link)
  • Denton, Robert E., Jr. (2002). The 2000 Presidential Campaign: A Communication Perspective. Praeger. 
  • Dershowitz, Alan M. (2001). Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000. New York, NY: Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 0-19-514827-4. 
  • Dover, E. D. (2002). Missed Opportunity: Gore, Incumbency, and Television in Election 2000. Westport, Conn.: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-97638-6. 
  • Dougherty, John E. (2001). Election 2000: How the Military Vote Was Suppressed. Cave Junction, OR:, Inc. ISBN 978-1-58939-065-2. 
  • Gillman, H. (2001). The Votes That Counted: How the Court Decided the 2000 Presidential Election. Chicago, Ill.: Univ. of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-29408-0. 
  • Moore, David W. (2006). How to Steal an Election: The Inside Story of How George Bush's Brother and FOX Network Miscalled the 2000 Election and Changed the Course of History. New York: Nation Press. ISBN 1-56025-929-9. 
  • Jacobson, Arthur J.; Rosenfeld, Michel (2002). The Longest Night: Polemics and Perspectives on Election 2000. 
  • Palast, Greg (2002). The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Pluto Press. ISBN 0-7453-1846-0. 
  • Posner, Richard A. (2001). Breaking the Deadlock: The 2000 Election, the Constitution, and the Courts. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 0-691-09073-4. 
  • Rakove, Jack N. (2002). The Unfinished Election of 2000. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-06837-5. 
  • Sabato, Larry J. (2001). Overtime! The Election 2000 Thriller. New York: Longman. ISBN 0-321-10028-X. 
  • Sammon, Bill (2001). At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election. Regnery Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-89526-227-4. 
  • Toobin, Jeffrey (2001). Too Close To Call: The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election. Random House. ISBN 0-375-50708-6. 

Journal articles

  • Miller, Arthur H.; Thomas F. Klobucar (2003). "The Role of Issues in the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election". Presidential Studies Quarterly 33 (1): 101+. doi:10.1111/j.1741-5705.2003.tb00018.x. 
  • Wattenberg, Martin P. (1999). "The Democrats' Decline in the House during the Clinton Presidency: An Analysis of Partisan Swings". Presidential Studies Quarterly 29 (3): 685. doi:10.1111/j.0268-2141.2003.00057.x. 
  • Wattier, Mark J. (2004). "The Clinton Factor: The Effects of Clinton's Personal Image in 2000 Presidential Primaries and in the General Election". White House Studies 4. 
  • Tribe, Laurence H.: Erog .v Hsub and its Disguises: Freeing Bush v. Gore From its Hall of Mirrors, 115 Harvard Law Review 170 (November 2001).


  • Keating, Dan (The Washington Post). "Democracy Counts, The Florida ballot recount project", paper prepared for presentation at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston, 2002.

External links

  • 2000 popular vote by states
  • 2000 popular vote by states (with bar graphs)
  • Campaign commercials from the 2000 election
  • CBS News Coverage of Election Night 2000: Investigation, Analysis, Recommendations (231 kB PDF).
  • Presidential Primaries, Caucuses, and Conventions
  • Report from United States Commission on Civil Rights
  • Supreme Court Decisions of December 9, 2000
  • Timeline of the 2000 Presidential Election
  • How close was the 2000 election? at the Wayback Machine (archived August 25, 2012) â€" Michael Sheppard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Booknotes interview with Jeff Greenfield on Oh, Waiter! One Order of Crow: Inside the Strangest Presidential Election Finish in American History, July 22, 2001.
  • United States Election 2000 Web Archive from the U.S. Library of Congress
  • Election of 2000 in Counting the Votes

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