Alternative History

The U.S. presidential election of 2000 was a contest between incumbent President Gary Condit and New York Governor George Pataki. Condit benefitted, uniquely among presidents, both from his incumbency, and also from his less-than two years on the job, following the resigniation of President Bill Clinton. However, he, along with all Democrats, suffered from the taint of Clinton's resignation.

Condit went into the election with very high approval ratings, which proved too high a hurdle for the Pataki and his running mate to overcome.

The Primaries

Both the Democratic and Republican party primaries were heavily contested in 2000. President Condit announced in early 2000 that he would seek a full term as president. Former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey was seen by many as a potential strong contender for the nomination, but he took himself out of the race early on, and endorsed Condit.

The Democratic Primary

Democratic contenders:

President Gary Condit
U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts
Former Colorado Senator Gary Hart
U.S. Representative Richard Gephardt of Missouri
U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota

Senator Kennedy emerged early in the primaries as the candidate of liberal wing of the Democratic Party. His third-place ranking in Iowa and second-place performance in neighboring New Hampshire slowed down his campaign, however he bounced back on Super Tuesday with wins in New York and Massachusetts.

Following poor results in Iowa and New Hampshire, Hart's campaign was weakened, and he withdrew Mar. 4, just before Super Tuesday. Condit's third-place finish in North Dakota - behind Kennedy and Wellstone - was one of the few "shocks" of the primaries.

By the time of the March 21 Illinois Primary, it was a Condit/Kennedy horse race, though in Alabama, Gephardt pushed Kennedy into third place. However, this was the high-water mark of his race. Wellstone's bluntness and candor were the highlights of the Democratic primary debates.

Results in major Democratic primaries/caucuses

State Date of Primary/Caucus First place Second place Third place Fourth place
Iowa Gephardt Kennedy Hart
New Hampshire February 1 Condit Kennedy Hart Wellstone
Delaware February 5 Kennedy Condit Hart Wellstone
Washington February 29 Wellstone Condit Kennedy Hart
Connecticut March 7 "Super Tuesday" Kennedy Condit Wellstone Gephardt
Georgia March 7 Condit Gebhardt Kennedy Wellstone
Missouri March 7 Gephardt Condit Wellstone Kennedy
New York March 7 Condit Kennedy Gephardt Wellstone
California March 7 Kennedy Condit Gephardt Wellstone
Ohio March 7 Condit Kennedy Gephardt Wellstone
Maine March 7 Kennedy Condit Wellstone Gephardt
Maryland March 7 Kennedy Condit Gephardt Wellstone
Massachusetts March 7 Kennedy Condit Wellstone Gephardt
North Dakota March 7 Kennedy Wellstone Condit Gephardt
Rhode Island March 7 Kennedy Condit Wellstone Gephardt
Vermont March 7 Kennedy Condit Gephardt Wellstone
Colorado March 10 Kennedy Condit Gephardt Wellstone
Utah March 10 Condit Gephardt Wellstone Kennedy
Arizona March 11 Condit Kennedy Fephardt Wellstone
Florida March 14 Condit Gephardt Kennedy Wellstone
Louisiana March 14 Kennedy Condit Gephardt Wellstone
Mississippi March 14 Kennedy Condit Gephardt Wellstone
Oklahoma March 14 Condit Gephardt Wellstone Kennedy
Tennessee March 14 Condit Gephardt Kennedy Wellstone
Texas March 14 Condit Kennedy Gephardt Wellstone
Illinois March 21 Condit Kennedy Gephardt Wellstone
Pennsylvania April 4 Kennedy Condit Wellstone Gephardt
Wisconsin April 4 Condit Kennedy Gephardt Wellstone
North Carolina May 2 Condit Gephardt Kennedy Wellstone
Indiana May 2 Condit Kennedy Gephardt Welstone
West Virginia May 9 Kennedy Condit Gephardt Wellstone
Nebraska May 9 Kennedy Condit Wellstone Gephardt
Kentucky May 23 Condit Kennedy Gephardt Wellstone
Alabama June 6 Condit Gephardt Kennedy Wellstone
New Jersey June 6 Kennedy Condit Gephardt Wellstone
New Mexico June 6 Kennedy Condit Wellstone Gephardt

The Republican Primary

Republican contenders:

New York Governor George Pataki
U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona
U.S. Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana
U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine
U.S. Representative Robert Portman of Ohio
U.S. Representative Stephen Largent of Oklahoma
1996 presidential candidate Alan Keyes of Maryland

The odds-on favorite early in the race was Senator John McCain, a war hero and influential, outspoken member of the U.S. Senate. But he faced a strong challenge from Gov. Pataki of New York, who charmed Iowa and New Hampshire voters and won in several key states, making his nomination inevitable by early June.

Keyes joked during a Chicago debate that it seemed "The entire House and Senate" were running for president this year, and the three senators and two congressmen did indeed give credence to this argument. Senator Snowe did very well in neighboring New Hampshire. Senator Lugar did poorly from the start, and dropped out after Super Tuesday. Congressmen Portman and Largent put up the most fight, and divided third and fourth place in the primaries between them.

Largent was attacked for his "ultra-conservative" views, which McCain said were "out of the mainstream." Snowe was attacked (most effectively in New Hampshire and the South) as being "too liberal." McCain and Pataki traded fierce barbs in debates, although both centrist politicians held many of the same views on the issues.

Despite a surprising outright win in his native Ohio, Portman's campaign faded quickly, and he pulled out of the race June 7. All other candidates stayed in the race through the convention.

Results in major Republican primaries/caucuses

State Date ofPrimary/Caucus First place Second place Third place Fourth place
Iowa January 24 Pataki McCain Largent Portman
New Hampshire February 1 Pataki McCain Snowe Largent
Delaware February 8 Pataki McCain Snowe Luger
South Carolina February 19 McCain Largent Pataki Keyes
Arizona February 22 McCain Largent Pataki Portman
Michigan February 22 McCain Pataki Portman Snowe
Virginia February 29 Pataki Largent Portmam McCain
Washington February 29 McCain Pataki Snowe Portman
North Dakota February 29 Portman Largent McCain Pataki
New York March 7 "Super Tuesday" Pataki McCain Snowe Portman
California March 7 McCain Pataki Largent Portman
Connecticut March 7 Snowe Pataki McCain Largent
Georgia March 7 Largent Portman Pataki McCain
Maine March 7 Snowe McCain Pataki Largent
Minnesota March 7 Portman Largent Pataki McCain
Missouri March 7 Largent Pataki McCain Portman
Ohio March 7 Portman Pataki Largent Keyes
Massachusetts March 7 Pataki Snowe Portman Largent
Rhode Island March 7 Snowe Pataki McCain Portman
Vermont March 7 Snowe Pataki McCain Largent
Colorado March 10 Pataki McCain Largent Portman
Utah March 10 Pataki McCain Largent Portman
Florida March 14 Pataki McCain Largent Portman
Louisiana March 14 Largent Keyes McCain Pataki
Mississippi March 14 Largent Portman Pataki Keyes
Oklahoma March 14 Largent Keyes Pataki McCain
Tennessee March 14 Pataki Largent McCain Snowe
Texas March 14 McCain Pataki Largent Portman
Illinois March 21 Pataki Portman Largent Snowe
Pennsylvania April 4 Pataki McCain Portman Snowe
Wisconsin April 4 Pataki McCain Portman Snowe
Indiana May 2 Pataki McCain Largent Portman
North Carolina May 2 Pataki McCain Largent Keyes
Nebraska May 9 Pataki Largent McCain Portmam
West Virginia May 9 Pataki Largent McCain Portman
Kentucky May 23 Pataki McCain Largent Portman
Alabama June 6 Largent Keyes Pataki Portman
New Jersey June 6 Pataki Snowe Largent Keyes
New Mexico June 6 McCain Pataki Largent Keyes

The Conventions

Democratic convention, 2000

Democratic National Convention was held in Los Angeles, California from August 14 - August 17, 2000. President Condit came into the convention with 1,910 of the convention's 4,339 delegate votes, short of the 2,170 required for nomination.

Kennedy had 1,849, while Gephardt and Wellstone had 136 together.

Just four days before the convention, Pres. Condit scuttled any talk about a Condit/Gephardt ticket by announcing he had chosen Senator Kerrey as his Vice-Presidential running-mate.

Despite his disappointment, Gephardt announced on the second night of the convention that he would endorse Condit, and asked that his 190 delegates go to him. This put Condit within 70 votes of the nomination. After two ballots, Kennedy asked that his delegates to vote for Condit, who won the third ballot almost unanimously.

BLACK Panther

The Republican National Convention was held July 31 - August 3, 2000 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

McCain came to the convention with 740 delegates in his pocket, but Pataki entered the convention with 978 delegates, just 56 shy of the 1,034 needed to be nominated. He got that On Tuesday, August 1, when Largent and Portman released their combined 312 votes on the first night of balloting.

Pataki is said to have narrowed his vice-presidential choices to three candidates: Largent, Portman, and U.S. Representative Heather Wilson of New Mexico. It was reported in the Washington Post that Pataki, bitter over attacks by McCain, refused to consider him for the second slot. In the end, he chose Largent as his running-mate.

General election

With polls showing Pres. Condit with 76% favorable ratings and the Condit/Kerrey team polling at 59% in September and 64% in mid-October, the race was an uphill battle for the Pataki/Portman ticket from the start.

Still, Pataki laid out his plan for a strong defense, cutting taxes and economic growth, which resonated well, especially in the South and West. He and Largent attacked Condit as weak and vaccilating. Largent, during the second Vice-Presidential debate, said the Clinton/Condit years were a "stain on our history that must be erased." Kerrey, during the same debate, called Largent a "Right-wing extremist" who, "couldn't be trusted to govern from the center."

Condit, in office just under two years, urged voters to give him a full term and a chance to forge a "New Start" for America, and that, combined with a great deal of sympathy from Gore's death and the desire to give Condit that chance, led him to victory on November 7.

2000 Election results

Presidential Candidates Party Popular Vote PV% Electoral Vote Running Mate
Gary Adrian Condit Democratic 54,228,120 48.3% 350 Joseph Robert Kerrey
George Elmer Pataki Republican 50,642,981 46.2% 188 Stephen Michael Largent
Ralph Nader Green 5,012,345 4.1% 0 Winona LaDuke
Other - 1,534,920 1.4% 0 -

See also