I’ve been wanting to do this one, the other election in recent memory where the national popular vote winner lost in the Electoral College (EC). I’m, of course, talking about Bush v. Gore in 2000. I updated my GitHub project, adding a notebook that scrapes the 2000 state-wise results from Wikipedia, and applies my fair, efficient EC tally method. Here’s what I found:
|Candidate||Party||Electoral College Votes||Wasted Popular Votes|
|George W. Bush||Republican||263||765,498|
|John Hagelin||Natural Law||0||83,714|
The all-important Florida count would have been a non-story, with no need for the Florida and U.S. Supreme Courts to weigh in. The EC count from Florida would have been Bush 12, Gore 12, and Nader 1, with it being not even close on allocating that last EC vote to Nader. Bush and Gore each had about 50k remaining popular votes after getting their 12 EC votes, to Nader’s 97.5k votes.
Just as in 2016, the real story is that both candidates failed to win a clear majority of the popular vote, with substantial voting for so-called 3rd party candidates. However, in 2000, the popular vote difference between the leaders was much smaller. The baked-in EC advantage for less populous states shows in the fact that the national popular vote loser still got one more EC vote than the national vote winner, even using my method. Recall that my method tries to make the allocation fair and efficient only on the state level, since it’s the states that pick the EC members. Also, in 2000, it is clear that Nader and the Green party caused an election upset for the Democrats, since there is a lot of philosophical similarity between the Green and Democratic parties.
In 2000, the failure of the Democrats to secure the White House can be pinned on voters that chose Ralph Nader and the “winner take all” allocation method. This is especially true looking at Florida, where all those Nader voters would probably have preferred a Gore victory to what happened. (Of course, as I’ve stated before, I would prefer the EC members be allowed to deliberate when no candidate gets the requisite 270 votes in the first round. This would give the 3rd party EC members a chance to caucus and influence. In 2000, this would likely have meant an ultimate 275-263 Gore victory.) By contrast, in 2016, most of the 14 Libertarian EC members would likely have caucused with the 261 Republican EC members, still resulting in a Trump victory.