The Election of 2000: Reports and Interpretations

The Election of 2000: Reports and Interpretations

The Election of 2000: Reports and Interpretations

The Election of 2000: Reports and Interpretations


Continuing a tradition of excellence in postelection analysis, Gerald M. Pomper leads a distinguished team of experts offering timely and insightful assessment of the first presidential election of the 21st century. After a relatively uneventful campaign season, the American electorate divided evenly between two similar candidates who raised and spent record sums of money. Election Day was followed by an unprecedented period of uncertainty that was finally resolved in a controversial judicial decision. How all this happened:-and why:-is discussed by this dynamic lineup of election specialists. Gerald M. Pomper (Rutgers University), author of Passions and Interests: Political Party Concepts of American Democracy. Anthony Corrado (Colby College), author of Campaign Finance Reform and Paying for Presidents. E. J. Dionne Jr. (Washington Post), author of Why Americans Hate Politics and They Only Look Dead. Kathleen A. Frankovic, Director of Surveys and producer, CBS News. Paul S. Herrnson (University of Maryland), author of Congressional Elections: Campaigning at Home and in Washington Marjorie Randon Hershey (Indiana University), author of Running for Office. William G. Mayer (Northeastern University), author of In Pursuit of the White House 2000: How We Choose Our Presidential Nominees. Monika L. McDermott, Manager of Surveys for CBS News for 2000 Election. Wilson Carey McWilliams (Rutgers University), author of Beyond the Politics of Disappointment: American Elections, 1980-1998.


The end crowns all,
and that old common arbitrator, Time,
will one day end it.

—Troilus and Cressida (IV, 5)

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, I began this series with an extravagant comparison of the 1976 election to Faust's search for the perfect moment, when he could say, "Tarry a while, you are so beautiful." After a quarter of a century, I now know— as Goethe taught — that the glories of our lives come from the quest for growth, not in any final achievement.

This volume completes a series of studies over seven national elections, among which the election of 2000 certainly stands out. We have begun the new millennium with both the most rapid communication technology and the slowest counting of votes. We have witnessed both extravagant campaigning and cramped balloting. We have elected a president and Congress after votes were cast by 105 million citizens, 538 electors, and nine justices.

The dramatic events of this election offer a remarkable culmination of the volumes in this series. It was essentially a tied vote, its outcome uncertain for five weeks. Over 50 million Americans voted for both Al Gore and George Bush. In the official but controversial count of the electoral college, 271 electors chose Bush and 267 favored Gore. In the ultimate forums, the courts, Gore won a 4‐ 3 victory in the Florida Supreme Court, and Bush won a final 5-4 victory in the U.S. Supreme Court. This even division of votes was mirrored in the congressional elections, which resulted in a 50-50 split in the Senate and a mere five-seat Republican majority in the House. The election of 2000 became so complicated and its materials so profuse that we must rely on the new technology of the Internet to tell the story fully. Additional data can be found at this website:

Over the last quarter of the twentieth century, American politics has provided many disappointments, a fair measure of missed opportunities, and a considerable number of personal foibles and failures. The tainted vote of Florida in 2000 and its ultimate resolution by a tainted Supreme Court decision exemplify those flaws.

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