Networks, AP jump the gun in Florida

By RACHEL LA CORTE

Associated Press

MIAMI – Within an hour after the polls had closed at 7 p.m. in Florida today, the TV networks and The Associated Press projected that Al Gore would win the key battleground state. But as more votes were counted, the outcome became uncertain.

Voter News Service, based mainly on interviews of voters after they left polling places, projected the Democratic vice president the winner in Florida over Texas Gov. George W. Bush. VNS conducted the interviews for the AP and five television networks.

But as actual vote returns piled up, the numbers appeared to raise doubts about the outcome. VNS retracted its projection at 10:13 p.m., and the networks and AP put the state back in the undecided column.

Shortly before midnight, with 82 percent, of precincts reporting, Bush had 2,326,396 votes or 50 percent, to Gore’s 2,206,274 or 47 percent.

A large number of the outstanding votes were in Broward and Palm Beach counties, considered Democratic strongholds, and in Miami-Dade County, where the vote tends to be split more evenly.

Earlier, before the rollback, Bush said he expected to prevail in Florida, where his brother Jeb is governor. “I don’t believe some of these states that they (news organizations) called, like Florida,” he said.

Gore and Bush had kept a constant presence in the state in the final weeks of the campaign.

The state, with 25 electoral votes, was especially important for Bush. No Republican has won the presidency without capturing the state since Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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