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The 2000 Presidential Election
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Multimedia Timeline: Election Night: November 7-8
Screen capture of votes up for auction on eBay, election day
Screen capture of votes up for auction on eBay, election day
Throughout the day and evening, registered voters in America went to the polls to cast their votes in the 2000 presidential election. There were also elections for US and state senators and congressmen/women, state governors, state ballot initiatives, as well as many local office races. For the presidential race, the major battleground states were Florida, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Wisconsin Ohio, and Michigan. With Texas in his pocket, Governor Bush expected to win Florida and then move through the South. Without Florida, Bush would have to nearly run the table of the remaining battleground states. A projected win for Gore in Florida would spell doom for the Bush campaign, although the networks would downplay that scenario until the polls had closed in the other battleground states and/or real vote totals were available to announce.
7:00 PM: US Television networks began projecting state winners as state polling places began to close across the country from East to West. At 7:00 PM, polls closed in most of Florida, but not in the panhandle region.

7:48 PM: The Associated Press, then CNN, and finally all of the other major TV networks declared Vice President Al Gore the victor in Florida, based on Voter News Service projections from exit polls. These polls were considered extremely reliable because they polled actual voters who had just left the polls, rather than those who said they would vote in the days before the election. At the time they announced the projected winner of Florida, the polls were still open in the panhandle region, but only for a few more minutes.

8:03 PM: The networks declared Gore had won Michigan and Illinois
7:55: Gore wins Florida
tvicon 7:48: Gore wins Florida
8:03: Gore wins Michigan
tvicon 8:03: Gore wins Michigan
8:47 PM: Broadcasters announced Gore had won Pennsylvania. Since he was expected to win California when polls closed there in a few hours, the broadcasters began to talk as if Gore had been elected.

9:00 PM: More polls closed and the election results were updated.

9:15 PM: Ohio was declared for Bush.

9:30 PM: MSNBC reporters updated the mood of supporters at the rallies for candidates Gore in Nashville and Bush in Austin.
8:47: Gore wins Pennsylvania
tvicon8:47: Gore wins Pennsylvania
9:00: Poll closings & election update
tvicon 9:00: Poll closings & election update
9:30: reports from the Austin and Nashville
tvicon 9:30: reports from the Austin and Nashville
9:31: Karl Rove disputes Florida call
tvicon 9:31: Karl Rove disputes Florida call
9:55: Bush not yet giving up on Florida
tvicon 9:55: Bush not yet giving up on Florida

9:31 PM: As Gore's home state of Tennessee is called for his opponent, Bush's chief strategist, Karl Rove, takes to the airwaves to dispute the network calls that Florida has gone for Gore.

9:55 PM: In a shrewd move, Bush is presented on TV calmly asserting that his people in Florida assure him that he will win Florida when the votes are counted. Moments later the networks redesignate Florida as "too close to call".

10:17 PM: All the attention is now on Florida. On MSNBC, Chris Matthews leads his panel on a discussion about the complexity of Florida demographics.

10:29 PM: Karl Rove makes the network rounds explaining the internal Bush Florida numbers. He claims that exit polling shows that Bush won Republican counties by bigger margins, and lost Democrat counties by smaller margins than they had previously projected were necessary in order for Bush to win the state.
10:17: Pundits discuss Florida demographics
tvicon 10:17: Panelists discuss Florida demographics
10: 29: Karl Rove explains the Bush Florida numberstvicon 10: 29: Karl Rove explains the Bush Florida numbers
11:22: Florida vote count updated
tvicon 11:22: Florida vote counting update
11: 47: Gore wins Washington, & Florida update
tvicon 11: 47: Gore wins Washington, & Florida update
11:00 PM: As expected, Gore was declared the winner of California's 54 electoral votes.

11:22 PM: The progress of the actual vote count in Florida was updated.

11:47 PM: Gore took Washington but Arkansas (Bill Clinton's home state) went to Bush. The Florida vote-counting was again updated. At one point the two candidates were tied with 242 electoral votes each, emphasizing the importance of Florida, which held 25 votes in a winner-take-all scenario.
Wednesday, November 8

1:50 AM: 95 percent of Florida votes had been counted, and Bush led by 38,000 votes.

1:55 AM:
96 percent of Florida votes counted had been counted, and Bush led by just under 30,000 votes.
1:50: 95% of Florida vote counted
tvicon 1:50: 95% of Florida vote counted
1:55: 96% of Florida vote countedtvicon 1:55: 96% of Florida vote counted
2:18: Bush declared winner in Florida & President-Electtvicon 2:18: Bush declared winner in Florida & President-Elect
2:18 AM: The Television networks again declared a winner in Florida but this time it was Bush. They quickly transitioned into declaring Governor George W. Bush the President-Elect of the United States.

2:30 AM: With the networks declaring the election over, Vice President Gore called Governor Bush to concede the election and to congratulate him on the win. This was not known in the media until later in the morning.

3:00 AM: Gore left his hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, in a motorcade headed to War Memorial Plaza, where he was planning to address his supporters and publicly concede. As the ballot counting continued, Bush's lead in Florida suddenly dropped significantly. Counties with large populations
tended to be Democrat strong-holds, and because of the large number of votes and the likelihood that they would have older voting technology, they were among the last parts of the state to report vote totals.
3:10 AM: With 99 percent of Florida's votes counted, Bush's lead was down to just 11,000 votes.

3:15 AM: Gore's advisers called the Vice President, now enroute to the rally, to tell him that Bush's lead in Florida had diminished dramatically.

3:24 AM: Networks reported that the Vice President called Governor Bush to concede at 2:30 AM.
Gore Election Night Pass
Gore Election Night Pass
3:15: 99% of Florida vote counted
tvicon 3:15: 99% of Florida vote counted
3:24: Networks report Gore concessiontvicon 3:24: Networks report Gore concession
3:26 AM: Bush lead now 629 votes
tvicon 3:26 AM: Bush lead in FL now 629 votes
3:26 AM: Dan Rather reported that the Florida Secretary of State's website showed that Bush's lead in Florida was down to just 629 votes.

3:30 AM: Gore called Bush again, this time to recant his concession. According to later reports, Bush didn't take this very well, and Gore was heard to reply, "well you don't have to get snippy!" With the concession speech cancelled, Gore's motorcade turned around. He returned to the hotel without addressing the rally crowd.

3:45 AM: News networks announced that Al Gore had retracted his concession.

4:04 AM: Bill Daly addressed the Gore supporters at the rally in Nashville and announced that it wasn't over yet. The networks flip-flopped again, this time saying Bush might not have won after all.

4:25 AM: Don Evans addressed the Bush supporters at the rally in Austin. He expressed confidence that the nation has elected George W. Bush the next president of the United States.

Bush Rally Pass
Bush Rally Pass
404: Bill Daly addresses Gore supporters
tvicon 4:04: Bill Daly addresses Gore supporters
4:25: Don Evans addresses Bush supporters
tvicon 4:25: Don Evans addresses Bush supporters
4:34: Florida Attorney General on automatic recount
tvicon4:34: Florida Attorney General on automatic recount
4:40: Jonathan Alter predicts that the election will be settled via lawsuits
tvicon 4:40: Jonathan Alter predicts that the election will be settled via lawsuits
4:55: Early edition newspapers get it wrong
tvicon 4:55: Early edition newspapers get it wrong
4:34 AM: Florida's Attorney General, Bob Butterworth, confirmed that Florida law would require an automatic machine recount. He also confirmed that there had been many reports of voter irregularities in his state, especially in Palm Beach County. This controversy was over the design of the ballot, called a "butterfly ballot".

4:40 AM: Jonathan Alter predicted lawsuits.

4:55 AM: As the evening's coverage (now extended deep into the early morning hours) winded down, Fox News reported on how some newspapers had gone to print after the networks had called the election for Bush.
 
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