Once dismissed as a joke and then cast aside as being too flawed to be elected, Donald Trump has shocked the world with an upset rarely seen before in politics, backing up the braggadocio that earned him adoring fans and rabid “haters” on the campaign trail to become the president-elect of the United States.
Despite trailing in almost every poll, Trump won the Electoral College easily, claiming almost every battleground state on the map on the way to defeating Hillary Clinton, even with a close race in the popular vote that she could win.
“Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division,” Trump said in his victory speech early Wednesday morning in New York City. “It is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land, that I will be president for all Americans. And this is so important to me.”
Decision Desk HQ called the election for Trump and his running mate Mike Pence at 12:58 a.m., with a 285 to 211 Electoral College margin, as national media outlets kept hope alive for desperate Clinton supporters.
The Associated Press followed by calling the election for Trump at 2:30 a.m. NBC News reports that Clinton conceded to Trump in a phone call. She is not expected to speak to the public until later Wednesday.
Trump “sincerely” said, “We owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country,” during his victory speech.
The victory by the New York businessman who from day one said he will “Make America Great Again” and never doubted himself puts Republicans firmly in control of the government, as Democrats were also unable to flip the House of Representatives and Senate. Trump spent most of his campaign addressing the grievances of Americans who said politicians and elites in the government have been in power for too long, and he will not be faced with the difficult task of doing something about it.
The outcome of Trump heading to the White House as the 45th President of the United States seemed unlikely even as of Tuesday afternoon. Most polls and forecasters showed Clinton with a multi-point lead heading into Election Day.
For weeks, Trump has predicted an American version of Brexit, saying the polls are wrong, like they were in Britain, as residents there shocked pollsters in June and voted to leave the European Union.
“I think it’s going to be Brexit plus plus plus. It’ll be amazing,” Trump said Monday during one of his final campaign stops, drawing jeers and dismissive laughs from Washington, D.C. insiders, who Trump has now proved to be wrong “big league.”
As Republicans celebrate an unexpected victory, Democrats are shocked and appalled by the part of country they did not believe existed. Clinton supporters woke up Tuesday morning expecting to celebrate the first female president and went to bed stunned that the “hidden vote” championed by Trump’s campaign was actually real.
“You have people putting children to bed tonight and they’re afraid of breakfast,” CNN commentator Van Jones said early Wednesday morning. “I have Muslim friends who are texting me tonight saying, should I leave the country. I have families of immigrants that are terrified tonight. This was many things, this was a rebellion against the elites. True. It was a complete reinvention of politics and polls, it’s true. But it was also something else.”
“This was a whitelash, a whitelash against a changing country, a whitelash against a black president, in part. And that’s the part where the pain comes,” Jones continued. “And Donald Trump has a responsibility tonight to come out and reassure people that he is going to be the president of all the people that he insulted and offended and brushed aside. … When you say you want to take your country back, you have a lot of people who feel we’re not represented either.”
How Did Trump Overcome the Odds & Win?
Trump won almost every state he needed to. Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin went his way. Clinton’s victories in Virginia and Nevada, were not enough.
While Trump was criticized for not having a well-oiled political machine on the ground in many of those key states, he made several appearances there and his message was heard loud and clear. In Wisconsin, which appeared to be safely in Clinton’s pocket, turned to Trump after he visited the state six times in the run-up to the election. Clinton, meanwhile, did not make a single trip to the state.
A depressed turnout in inner cities, among minorities, which many say was helped by voter suppression efforts by the Republican party, combined with an uptick in the number of rural white voters helped Trump secure the shocking victory.
According to exit polls conducted by CNN, 53 percent of men said they voted for Trump. He won 58 percent of white voters, including 63 percent of white men and 53 percent white women.
What Comes Next for a Divided Nation as Trump Prepares to Take Office?
The results of the election revealed a divided nation that will have many questions to face over the 71 days until Trump takes office and replaces President Barack Obama.
The Republican party, which many imagined as being fractured and forced to rebuild after a difficult presidential election, now has more control than it has had in decades.
One seat remains open on the Supreme Court, and at least two others are likely to open up during Trump’s four years in office.
Trump could have the support of Congress and the Supreme Court to push forward the policies that propelled him to victory. The question remains whether Trump will actually follow through on his campaign proposals, from his first big idea — a wall at the border between the United States and Mexico paid for by Mexico — to his promise to stop bad trade deals and punish American companies for sending jobs out of the country.
He has threatened to ban all Muslims from immigrating to the United States and has said he will deport undocumented immigrants.
Third-party candidate Evan McMullin, who some anti-Trump voters had hoped would keep him from the White House by winning states like his home Utah, pointed to that issue in his concession speech Tuesday.
“Tonight there are millions of Americans, who I sam to say, fear their liberties will be challenged by a Trump administration,” McMullin said.
Many have pointed to the October announcement of a rise in Obamacare rates as one of the reasons rural voters turned so hard for Trump. But the health care industry has become reliant on the Affordable Care Act, and Trump will face a difficult task of reworking the system.
And then there is the question of the corrupt and rigged elites of the government and media Trump railed against day in and day out on the campaign trail. Comey’s announcement that the FBI was looking back into Clinton’s email issues seems to have pushed Republicans teetering over a series of sexual assault and harassment allegations against Trump back to the brazen New Yorker.
Trump has promised to heed the calls for his supporters to “lock up” his opponent. Will he appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the email server and other corruption claims against Clinton?
The face of the government will also change. Reluctant Trump supporters like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan could see their role in the GOP minimized, while Trump hardliners like Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee could be thrust into power positions.