Published on Saturday, December 30, 2000 in the New York Times
Gore's Growing Lead Now Exceeds 539,000 Votes
by David Stout
 
WASHINGTON Vice President Al Gore's nationwide lead in the popular vote has grown by about 200,000, to more than half a million, since Dec. 18, when the Electoral College sealed his fate and made Gov. George W. Bush the 43rd president of the United States.

A state-by-state survey by The Associated Press of the final certified results put Mr. Gore's popular vote edge at 539,947, up considerably from the lead of about 337,000 that was widely reported in the first several weeks after the election. The totals were 50,996,116 for Mr. Gore and 50,456,169 for Mr. Bush.

Much of the increase came in California, New York, and other, smaller states that went for Mr. Gore, said Curtis B. Gans of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, a nonpartisan research group that has followed presidential elections for a quarter-century.

Election officials in California and New York said today that the bigger numbers for Mr. Gore were not hard to explain. Mr. Gore carried both states easily. Both had large numbers of absentee ballots, which could not be counted immediately, and, because absentee votes generally do not vary sharply from election night returns, it was predictable that the absentees would widen the vice president's lead.

Mr. Gans said that in 1996, President Clinton's lead over Bob Dole grew by some 200,000 votes from election night until all absentee ballots were counted and all the votes certified, a fact all but forgotten except by political trivia buffs.

"But it didn't matter," Mr. Gans said, in a race that the incumbent won by more than eight million popular votes and by a 379-to-159 advantage in the Electoral College.

In the 1960 election John F. Kennedy had the electoral vote edge and a 114,673-vote margin in the popular vote over Richard M. Nixon. A total of 68.8 million votes were cast for president. Eight years later Mr. Nixon won the Electoral College and a popular vote margin of 510,645 out of 73.2 million votes cast for president.

The 2000 election, of course, will be remembered as the first in 112 years in which the leader in the popular vote lost the White House because his opponent prevailed in the Electoral College.

Mr. Bush got 271 electoral votes, one more than he needed for a majority and five more than Mr. Gore, who lost one vote in the Electoral College when a Washington, D.C., elector left her ballot blank to protest the District of Columbia's lack of voting power in Congress.

Mr. Gore won New York State, 4,107,697 to 2,403,374, or by some 1.7 million votes. Lee Daghlian, the chief spokesman for the state's Board of Elections, said today that about 360,000 absentee ballots were requested, and that about 260,000 were returned in time to be counted. In New York, absentee ballots must be postmarked no later than the day before the election and received no later than a week after the election.

Mr. Daghlian said absentee balloting was about 20 percent higher this year than in 1996. He speculated that the presence of Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut on the Democratic ticket might have caused more American Jews to mail ballots from Israel.

It was clear on election night that Mr. Gore had carried California in a landslide, so it was expected that the nearly 1.5 million absentee ballots that arrived in time to be accepted would sharply augment his victory and they did.

The final certified totals in California were 5,861,203 for Mr. Gore and 4,567,429 for Mr. Bush. Alfie Charles, a spokesman for the California secretary of state, Bill Jones, said that the percentage of Californians voting by absentee ballot had been increasing, and that about one-quarter now did. (Californians can vote absentee without showing a compelling reason. Their ballots must arrive by Election Day to be counted.)

Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company

###