2000 Presidential Election of George W. Bush vs. Al Gore

Pregnant Chads, Florida Recounts, and More

Former President George W. Bush and Former Vice President Al Gore conversing at the funeral for W's father, the late President Bush the elder

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The U.S. presidential election of 2000 is remembered for many things, including pregnant chads, a desperate appeal to the Supreme Court, and most Americans questioning the integrity of their voting system. In light of all the unexpected events, it's interesting to take a step back and look at the contest from a more objective perspective. For example, when was the last time a candidate won the presidency after losing the popular vote (before it happened again in 2016)?

2000 Presidential Election Trivia

  • Before the 2000 election, the last time the president won the electoral vote without winning the popular vote was in 1888. Grover Cleveland beat Benjamin Harrison by 0.8% in the popular vote, but Harrison won the election.
  • Bush won 1,803 more counties than Gore won.
  • One of the electors from DC abstained from voting for Gore.
  • Because of the controversy over the recount in Florida, the Gore campaign sued to have a manual recount.
  • The recount in Florida taught Americans the difference between a "hanging chad" (a ballot punch-out that was hanging at one corner) and a "pregnant chad" (a dimple in the ballot paper). 
  • The results of the 2000 and, later, the 2016 election have led many Americans and legislators to support alternative voting systems, such as the National Popular Vote Plan, that would ensure that the winner of the most popular votes would also win the election.

The Candidates

The 2000 election was uncommon not just for the close contest, but also the presence of a significant third-party candidate. Ralph Nader garnered a sizable, if proportionately small, vote, convincing many voters that there were no longer substantial differences between the Democrats and Republicans in contemporary politics. Here are the candidates for the leading parties on the ballot: 

  • Republican Party: George W. Bush and Richard Cheney
  • Democratic Party: Albert Gore Jr. and Joseph Lieberman
  • Green Party: Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke
  • Reform Party: Patrick Buchanan and Ezola Foster
  • Libertarian Party: Harry Browne and Art Olivier

The Issues

Was Ralph Nader right, or did the Republicans and Democrats represent markedly different sides of the major election issues? Here are just of few of the hottest topics of debate in the election: 

  • Education
  • Bush: Comprehensive package calling for more choice and accountability
  • Gore: Smaller class sizes with rigorous methods for hiring and retaining teachers
  • Social Security
  • Bush: Personal retirement accounts with SS money
  • Gore: Give parents raising children SS credit
  • Health Care
  • Bush: Strengthen Medicare with private sector alternatives
  • Gore: 1/6 of the budget surplus over 15 years used to strengthen Medicare

The Results

Memorably, Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election. That's because American presidents are elected by the Electoral College rather than the overall number of votes. The popular vote was won by Gore-Lieberman by 543,816 votes.

The results of the popular vote:

  • Bush-Cheney: 50,460,110
  • Gore-Lieberman: 51,003,926
  • Nader-LaDuke: 2,883,105
  • Buchanan-Foster: 449,225
  • Browne-Olivier: 384,516

The results of the electoral vote:

  • Bush-Cheney: 271
  • Gore-Lieberman: 266
  • Nader-LaDuke: 0
  • Buchanan-Foster: 0
  • Browne-Olivier: 0

The number of states won:

  • Bush-Cheney: 30 states
  • Gore-Lieberman: 20 states plus the District of Columbia


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Your Citation
Kelly, Martin. "2000 Presidential Election of George W. Bush vs. Al Gore." ThoughtCo, Nov. 29, 2020, thoughtco.com/2000-election-george-bush-al-gore-104624. Kelly, Martin. (2020, November 29). 2000 Presidential Election of George W. Bush vs. Al Gore. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/2000-election-george-bush-al-gore-104624 Kelly, Martin. "2000 Presidential Election of George W. Bush vs. Al Gore." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/2000-election-george-bush-al-gore-104624 (accessed February 5, 2023).