November 21, 2000
Gore Breaks 50 Million
Vice President Al Gore's national vote tally now exceeds 50 million votes, making him only the second U.S. presidential candidate ever to reach that figure and the first to do it as a non-incumbent president.
According to USA Today's latest tabulation of the Nov. 7 balloting, Gore has 50,099,002 votes. That gives Gore about a 300,000-vote popular-vote lead over Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
Despite Gore's vote total and his expanding lead over Bush nationally, Gore appears likely to lose the presidency through the Electoral College. Bush is holding a narrow lead in Florida, where the election was marred by widespread voting irregularities and now is bogged down in court battles.
Even if Gore could somehow prevail in Florida, congressional Republicans have made clear that they would view Gore as illegitimate and might challenge his election. House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, has circulated a memo to House Republicans noting that Congress can reject a state's electoral votes, a move presumably aimed at electing Bush.
Nevertheless, Gore now can note some historic achievements.
The only other presidential nominee ever to break the 50-million vote mark was President Ronald Reagan who amassed 54,455,000 votes in winning re-election in 1984.
Yet, Gore has done better as a first-time presidential nominee. In Reagan's first run in 1980, the former California governor received 43,901,812 votes, about 6 million fewer than Gore.
Gore's swelling vote tally also exceeds the 1988 total garnered by then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, who won the White House with 47,946,000 votes, about 2 million votes fewer than Gore's current number.
Gore did better than his current boss, too. President Bill Clinton won in 1992 with 44,908,254 votes and in 1996 with 45,590,703 votes.
Gore's 2000 vote surpasses margins amassed even by incumbent presidents in past landslides. President Lyndon Johnson received 42,825,463 votes in 1964. President Richard Nixon got 46,740,323 votes in 1972.
Gore's 300,000-vote margin over Texas Gov. Bush also exceeds the plurality received by winning candidates in other close elections in modern American politics.
In 1960, John F. Kennedy defeated Nixon by 119,450 votes. Eight years later, Nixon edged Vice President Hubert Humphrey by 272,415 votes. [Historic vote totals are from the National Archives.]
If Florida's current results stand, however, Gore would be the first popular-vote winner to be denied the White House since 1888 when Grover Cleveland beat Benjamin Harrison in the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College.
Conversely, Gov. Bush is poised to be the first popular-vote loser to assume the presidency in modern times.