The United States presidential election of 2000 was held on Tuesday, November 7, 2000, to elect the President of the United States. It was the 54th consecutive quadrennial election for President and Vice President. The contest was between Republican Party candidate George W. Bush, the incumbent Governor of Texas, and Democratic Party candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President. Bill Clinton, the incumbent President, was vacating the position after serving the maximum two terms allowed by the Twenty-second Amendment.

Gore narrowly won the November 7 election, with 291 electoral votes to Bush's 246 . However, the fate of the election came down to the close race in the final state of Florida and its 25 electoral votes, but the victory for each candidate in Florida was hardly contested among each side accross the country. On December 2000, after a recount of the votes, Al Gore was declared the winner of the election and the forty third President of the United States.

United States Presidential election, 2000
1996 2004
Nominee Party Home State Running mate Electoral vote States carried Popular vote Percentage
Al Gore Democratic Tennessee Joe Lieberman 291 21 + DC 51,000,434 48,5 %
George W. Bush Republican Texas Dick Cheney 246 29 50,455,465 47,8 %

Democratic Nomination

Democratic Party candidates

Democratic Candidates gallery

  • Al Gore, Vice President of the United States, from Tennessee (Nominee)
  • Bill Bradley, former Senator of New Jersey

Democratic Party Primaries

Serious early speculation surrounded Bill Bradley, a U.S. Senator and former basketball player for the New York Knicks, who had long been considered a potential Democratic contender for the presidency. In December 1998, Bradley formed a presidential exploratory committee and began organizing a campaign. Gore, however, had been considered the favorite for the Democratic nomination as early as 1997, with the commencement of President Bill Clinton’s second term. Though numerous candidates for the Democratic nomination tested the waters, including Senator John Kerry, Governor Howard Dean, Representative Richard Gephardt, and Reverend Jesse Jackson, only Gore and Bradley ultimately entered the contest.

Bill Bradley campaigned as the liberal alternative to Gore, taking positions to the left of Gore on a number of issues, including universal health care, gun control, and campaign finance reform. On the issue of taxes, Bradley trumpeted his sponsorship of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which had significantly cut tax rates while abolishing dozens of loopholes. He voiced his belief that the best possible tax code would be one with low rates and no loopholes, but he refused to rule out the idea of raising taxes to pay for his health care program.

On public education, Bradley pushed for increased federal funding for schools under Title I, as well as the expansion of the Head Start program. He further promised to bring 60,000 new teachers into the education system annually by offering college scholarships to anyone who agreed to become a teacher after graduating. Bradley also made child poverty a significant issue in his campaign. Having voted against the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, better known as the "Welfare Reform Act," which, he said, would result in even higher poverty levels, he promised to repeal it as president. He also promised to address the minimum wage, expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, allow single parents on welfare to keep their child support payments, make the Dependent Care Tax Credit refundable, build support homes for pregnant teenagers, enroll 400,000 more children in Head Start, and increase the availability of food stamps.

Although both Gore and Bradley showed comparable success in terms of fund-raising, Bradley lagged behind Gore in many polls from the start and never gained a competitive position. Despite the late endorsement of the Des Moines Register, Bradley went on to be defeated in the Iowa Caucus; Gore garnered 64% of the votes, while Bradley received only 35%. Gore won the primary competition in New Hampshire as well, though by a significantly smaller margin, receiving 52% to Bradley’s 47%. After a resounding defeat on Super Tuesday, with Bradley failing to carry the majority of delegates in a single state, he withdrew from the race on March 9.

Results of the Democratic Party primaries

  • Al Gore : 3007 delegates, 50 states + DC + PR, 75.37 % of the popular vote
  • Bill Bradley : 522 delegates, 0 state, 20.96%

Republican Party nomination

Republican Party candidates

Several Republican candidates appeared on the national scene to challenge the nominee of the incumbent party, Al Gore.

Republican Candidates gallery

  • George W. Bush, Governor of Texas (Nominee)
  • John McCain, Senator of Arizona
  • Alan Keyes, former US ECOSOC, from Maryland
  • Steve Forbes, Businessman, from New Jersey
  • Gary Bauer, former Undersecretary, from Kentucky
  • Orrin Hatch, Senator of Utah
  • Pat Buchanan, author and publisher from Virginia, Presidential candidate in 1992, Presidential candidate in 1996
  • Dan Quayle, former Vice President of the United States from Indiana
  • Lamar Alexander, former Governor of Tennessee, Presidential candidate in 1996
  • Bob Smith, Senator of New Hampshire
  • John Kasich, Represntative from Ohio
  • Herman Cain, CEO of Godfather's Pizza from Nebraska

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 49–30% 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". 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.

Results of the Republican Party primaries

  • George W. Bush : 1526 delegates, 43 states + DC + PR, 62 % of the popular vote
  • John McCain : 275 delegates, 7 states, 31,23 % of the popular vote
  • Alan Keyes : 23 delegates, 0 state, 5,23 % of the popular vote
  • Steve Forbes : 10 delegates, 0 state, 0,89 % of the popular vote
  • Gary Bauer : 2 delegates, 0 state, 0,31 % of the popular vote

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.

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.


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 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.

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 AM, 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 counties—Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach—and as their votes were reported Gore began to gain on Bush. By 4:30 AM, 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.

Florida Supreme Court

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, a certification contested by Gore's campaign. On December, the Supreme Court narrowly made vote recount legal. Then on December 12, after recount in Florida, including in invalidated voting offices, Gore is declared the winner with 171 more votes than Bush in the Sunshine State, thus giving him 291 electoral votes against 246 for Bush. The next morning, Bush conceded election to the vice president and wished him the best luck possible. Al Gore is inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States on January 20, 2001.

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