Election 2000: The Last Holiday-from-History Election
A range of pundits have been suggesting that this year’s election could end up being contested, much as the 2000 election was. Let’s compare then and now.
Back in 2000, America was still enjoying the “holiday from history” that followed the fall of the Soviet empire. Military spending was at a post–World War II low of just 2.9 percent of GDP. Unemployment in October 2000 was 3.9 percent, a 30-year low. The dotcom bubble was still buoying the stock market. Around 20 percent of both Democrats and Republicans had “very unfavorable” views about the other party. (By 2016, that had risen to 55 and 58 percent, respectively.)
The major candidates, Al Gore and George W. Bush, were both conventional politicians. The big issues of the day were Social Security and school vouchers. In an October 4, 2000, New York Times article reporting voter sentiments at a neighborhood presidential-debate-watch barbecue in Atlanta, host Bobby Milstein said: “This is definitely an election of the lesser of two evils.” He added, “Clinton, he had a vision in a way. Gore doesn’t have that. Bush doesn’t have that. In the end, either of them are probably capable.”
As we now know, the 2000 election was closely contested and its outcome ultim
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