Created: November 08, 2020 10:15 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As some of the dust starts to settle on the 2020 election, political experts are reexamining a previous presidential election from 2000 that also had similar challenges.
The nation is still waiting for election results in four states. After all 50 states make their counts official, it’ll head to Congress for final approval. However, there are many legal challenges coming from President Trump’s campaign. Many of the voting margins are expected to be razor thin, which could lead to recounts.
As UNM political science professor Michael Rocca explained, there are lots of reasons to look back at the 2000 election when George W. Bush won the first time.
“The Bush v Gore election went months before it finally got the Supreme Court. The difference in 2000 was that it was centered on one state: the state of Florida,” Rocca said. “Even if particular ballots, let’s say, are thrown out by a court in Arizona, chances are Vice President Biden will still have enough electoral college votes to make up the difference in the other states. That was a dramatically different situation in 2000, where the counting of these hanging chads and these butterfly ballots, those issues really mattered because it was only one state and you’re talking about a couple hundred vote difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush.”
Back then, there was also a lot of unrest.
“When President George W. Bush— it’s easy to forget this— when he entered into office, almost half of the country treated him as an illegitimate president,” Rocca said.
But Rocca notes that once the Supreme Court made its decision, Al Gore asked his supporters to back the new president.
“That was a really important moment in that transition period in 2000. The question will be, of course, and this is an open question right now, to what extent is President Trump willing to do that, given his own rhetoric on this,” Rocca said. “My guess is that he’s going to be less willing to give that sort of a speech than Al Gore was in 2000.”
Now, the nation will watch how the election will play out in court, however Rocca said real changes are playing out right now. Some states—including Georgia and Arizona— are getting more competitive.
“I think we’re going to recognize this as a transition stage. I think we’re going to look back at this time and say the parties, the electorate and voters, we’re still trying to figure out where we stand and where the parties are on particular issues,” he said.
As Rocca adds, Americans should want competitive elections because they’re healthy.
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