1996 Flag of the United States 2004 › ›
United States presidential election, 2000
November 2, 2000
Ralph Nader GeorgeWBush Al Gore, Vice President of the United States, official portrait 1994
Nominee 'Ralph Nader' George W. Bush Al Gore
Party Independent Republican Democratic
Home state Connecticut Texas Tennessee
Running mate Winona LaDuke Dick Cheney John Edwards
Electoral vote 275 260 3
States carried 23 27 D.C.
Popular vote  ???  ???  ???
Percentage 37.0% 37.1% 26.34%
US Electoral College 2000 (President Nader)
Presidential election results map. Green denotes states won by Nader/LaDuke (23), Red denotes states won by Bush/Cheney (27), Blue denotes those won by Gore/Edwars (D.C.).
President before election
George Bush
Elected President
Ralph Nader

The United States presidential election of 2000 was a contest between Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President, Republican candidate George W. Bush, and Green candidate Ralph Nader. Bill Clinton, the incumbent President, was vacating the position after serving the maximum two terms allowed by the Twenty-second Amendment. Nader narrowly won the November 7 election, with 275 electoral votes to Gore's 3 and Bush's 260. The election was closest of the 21st century and would also be one of the few election where a candidate won the electoral vote but not the popular vote(Nader won the electoral vote, Bush won the popular vote).

Democratic Party Nomination

Democratic Party Candidates

  • Vice President Albert Gore of Tennessee
  • Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey

Many candidates for the Democratic nomination tested the waters, but only two serious candidates entered the contest: Vice President Al Gore of Tennessee and former Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey. Only Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone formed an exploratory committee.

Gore had a strong base as the incumbent Vice President; Bradley received some endorsements but 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." He made the spending of the record-breaking budget surplus on a variety of social welfare programs to help the poor and the middle-class one of his central issues, along with campaign finance reform and gun control.

Gore easily defeated Bradley in the primaries, largely because of the support given to Gore by 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 in rural America. The closest Bradley came to a victory was his 50–46 loss to Gore in the New Hampshire primary. On March 14th Al Gore won the Democratic nomination.

Gore, as incumbent V.P., was supported by Bill Clinton and despite Bradley's challenge was a safe front-runner. But some other prominent Democrats were mentioned as possible contenders, such as Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey, Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt, Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, and famous actor and director Warren Beatty, who declined to run.

None of Bradley's delegates were allowed to vote for him, so Gore won the nomination unanimously at the Democratic National Convention. North Carolina Senator John Edwards was nominated for Vice President by voice vote. Edwards was chosen by Gore over five other finalists on his shortlist.

Republican Party Nomination

Republican Party Candidates

  • Former Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
  • Former Undersecretary of Education Gary Bauer of Kentucky
  • Publisher and Author Pat Buchanan of Virginia
  • Governor George W. Bush of Texas
  • Former Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina
  • Businessman Steve Forbes of New York
  • Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah
  • Representative John Kasich of Ohio
  • Former Ambassador and conservative activist Alan Keyes of Maryland
  • Senator John McCain of Arizona
  • Former Vice President Dan Quayle of Indiana
  • Senator Robert C. Smith of New Hampshire

George W. Bush became the early frontrunner, 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 Lamar Alexander, Elizabeth Dole, John Kasich, Dan Quayle, and Robert C. 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 24th 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.

Bush, the governor of Texas, a son of a former president, and the favored candidate of the Christian right, 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 1st 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 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 polling that implied that McCain's adopted Bangladeshi-born daughter was an African-American child he fathered out of wedlock. McCain's loss in South Carolina damaged his campaign. After the South Carolina primary, McCain won both Michigan and his home state of Arizona on February 22nd.

On February 24, John McCain criticized George W. Bush for not denouncing the Bob Jones University policy banning inter-racial dating. On February 28th John McCain also referred to Rev. Jerry Falwell and televangelist Pat Robertson as agents of intolerance. John McCain lost the state of Virginia to George W. 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 and other states. At the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia George W. Bush accepted the Nomination of the Republican party.

Vice Presidential candidates

Governor Bush told former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney 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 prohibit each elector from casting both of his or her votes for persons from his or her own state. Accordingly, Cheney—who had been a resident of Texas for nearly 10 years—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 which—given the eventual razor-thin margin of victory for the Republicans that year—would have almost certainly resulted in the Vice-Presidential election going to the Republican Senate.

Green Party Nomination

Green Party Candidates

  • Activist Ralph Nader of Connectict
  • Punk Rocker Jello Biafra of California
  • Spiritualist Stephen Gaskin of Colorado
  • Writer Joel Kovel of New York

The nomination went to Ralph Nader of Connecticut and Winona LaDuke of Minnesota, at the Green Party's National Nominating Convention in Denver, Colorado. The Green Party appeared on 44 of 50 state ballots as well as the ballot in DC.

Reform Party Nomination

Reform Party Candidates

  • Publisher and Author Pat Buchanan of Virginia
  • Professor John Hagelin of Iowa

The nomination went to John Hagelin and running mate Charlie Collins of Georgia. In the end, the Hagelin/Collins ticket appeared on 49 of 51 possible ballots.

The general election campaign

Although the campaign was 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, who typically have an advantage with voters on moral issues, 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 Edwards. In fact, some media observers theorized that Gore actually chose Edwards 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.

Ralph Nader was the most successful of third-party candidates, drawing nearly 11% of the popular vote in the early campaign. His 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 ceremonies. 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, trying to note 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 enough would-be Gore votes to throw the election to Bush. Nader dismissed such concerns, claiming his objective in the campaign was to "make a mark on the nation to break the American Duopoly".

The vice presidential candidates Dick Cheney , John Edwards and Winnona LaDuke campaigned aggressively in the 2000 presidential election. Both camps made numerous campaign stops nationwide.

In the midpoint of the campaign, the Bush/Cheney camp began to run "pro-nader" ads to siphon off votes from the Gore/Edwards ticket.

The Election

Most pundits had written off Nader as a long shot, even with his steady gain in polls. This thought was shattered as state after state fell to the Nader/LaDuke camp, Bush was coming in at second everywhere as Gore underpreformed and only won the Democratic stronghold of DC.

Election Results

Results by state

# State Winner Delegates
1 Washington Nader / LaDuke 11
2 Oregon Nader / LaDuke 7
3 California Nader / LaDuke 54
4 Arizona Bush / Cheney 8
5 Nevada Bush / Cheney 4
6 New Mexico Nader / LaDuke 5
7 Colorado Nader / LaDuke 8
8 Utah Bush / Cheney 5
9 Idaho Bush / Cheney 4
10 Montana Nader / LaDuke 3
11 Wyoming Bush / Cheney 3
12 North Dakota Bush / Cheney 3
13 South Dakota Bush / Cheney 3
14 Nebraska Bush / Cheney 5
15 Kansas Bush / Cheney 6
16 Oklahoma Bush / Cheney 8
17 Texas Bush / Cheney 32
18 Louisiana Bush / Cheney 9
19 Arkansas Bush / Cheney 6
20 Mississippi Bush / Cheney 6
21 Alabama Bush / Cheney 9
22 Georgia Bush / Cheney 13
23 Florida Bush / Cheney 25
24 South Carolina Bush / Cheney 8
25 North Carolina Bush / Cheney 14
26 Virginia Bush / Cheney 13
27 Tennessee Bush / Cheney 11
28 Kentucky Bush / Cheney 8
29 West Virginia Bush / Cheney 5
30 Ohio Nader / LaDuke 21
31 Indiana Bush / Cheney 12
32 Illinois Nader / LaDuke 22
33 Michigan Bush / Cheney 18
34 Wisconsin Nader / LaDuke 11
35 Minnesota Nader / LaDuke 10
36 Iowa Bush / Cheney 7
37 Maine Nader / LaDuke 4
38 Vermont Nader / LaDuke 3
39 New Hampshire Nader / LaDuke 4
40 Massachusetts Nader / LaDuke 12
41 Rhode Island Nader / LaDuke 4
42 Connecticut Nader / LaDuke 7
43 New York Nader / LaDuke 33
44 Pennsylvania Nader / LaDuke 23
45 New Jersey Nader / LaDuke 15
46 Delaware Bush / Cheney 3
47 Maryland Nader / LaDuke 10
48 Missouri Bush / Cheney 11
49 Alaska Nader / LaDuke 3
50 Hawaii Nader / LaDuke 4
51 Washington D.C. Gore / Edwards 3


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