Presidential Race Too Close to Call, Hinges on Florida Recount
After an "extraordinary struggle for the presidency" and a "night of high drama and confusing vote counting," the race between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) remains too close to call, with the fate of Florida's 25 electoral votes needed to decide the outcome, the Washington Post reports. Early this morning, the television networks declared Bush the winner of both Florida and the election (Balz, Washington Post, 11/8). Prior to the announcement, Bush had won 29 states and 246 electorial votes. A win in Florida would have put him at 271, one vote more than the "magic 270" necessary to win. In comparison, Gore had captured 17 states and the District of Columbia for 243 electoral votes (Fournier, AP/Chicago Tribune, 11/8). During the course of a "tension-filled hour," Gore had called Bush to concede the election. But as the "last votes ... trickl[ed] in from several Democratic strongholds" in Florida, Bush's lead in Florida dissipated, and Gore called Bush to retract the concession. With 100% of Florida precincts reporting, Bush led Gore by "several hundred votes," the Post reports, but according to Florida election law, an "automatic recount" is necessary if the winner's margin is less than 0.5 percentage points (Washington Post, 11/8). Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth (D) said that a recount would "only take a matter of hours" (Climer, Nashville Tennessean, 11/8). But CNN has reported that the recount must be complete by the close of business on Thursday (CNN, 11/8). Gore campaign Chair William Daley said, "Until the results in Florida become official, our campaign continues" (AP/Chicago Tribune, 11/8). Earlier in the evening, the networks prematurely "put Florida and its 25 votes into Gore's column," only to retract that call later. Oregon, where Bush leads, is the only other state that remains "too close to call," the Post reports, with Gore grabbing a narrow victory in Wisconsin later this morning. But "mathematically, the presidential race hinged on the outcome in Florida" (Washington Post, 11/8). According to national exit polls, Bush "carved out his edge by winning among men, white voters, married couples and the wealthy," but Gore picked up votes among women, black voters, Hispanic voters, singles and individuals with incomes less than $30,000 (Thomma, Knight Ridder/Florida Times-Union, 11/8). Voters also favored Gore on issues such as "fixing Medicare," the Washington Post reports (Edsall, Washington Post, 11/8). But "no galvanizing issue seemed to emerge in this campaign, and much of the contest seemed to revolve around more personal factors," the New York Times reports. Third party candidates Ralph Nader (Green) and Pat Buchanan (Reform) received 3% and 1% of the vote, respectively (Berke, New York Times, 11/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.