How Long Did The 2000 Presidential Election Results Take? A Look Back At The Last Contentious U.S. Presidential Election

By Jacob Shelton
Disenfranchised Voters Protest at the U.S. Supreme Court on December 11, 2000. (Elvert Barnes/Wikimedia Commons)

What happened in the 2000 presidential election? Decades after the event that left Americans weary of the term "hanging chad," the dealings that led to the George W. Bush presidency are still murky. After three weeks of arguing over 537 votes, the state of Florida decided that Bush won the night, handing over its 25 electoral votes, but that was after a wild election night, a rescinded concession, and an argument over the popular vote which has hounded American politics ever since. How was the 2000 presidential election decided between George W. Bush and Al Gore? We'll break it down so it all (mostly) makes sense.

Too Early To Call

The surprise wasn't that Gore and Bush were locked in a close race—that made sense to everyone. Gore was running on a platform that was slightly further left than his predecessor's, and Bush's campaign struck all the right notes for the G.O.P. There was genuine excitement leading up to the 2000 election, but poll after poll showed voters in a deadlock, so possibly out of fatigue, networks called the election for Gore as early as 8:00 P.M. E.T. on election night.

Rather than put the matter to rest, however, all hell broke loose. Karl Rove, then-governor Bush's chief strategist, called Fox News himself, insisting that the election wasn't over because Florida was still counting their ballots and the decision to announce Gore as the winner was based on skewed exit polls of young people, women, and voters of color. After Rove's call to Fox, news organizations began reversing their decisions or waiting to call the election until they had a definite answer.