On an Election Day that saw the two most disliked major party candidates in history on the ballot, Republican Donald Trump incited droves of white voters, driving him to an unexpected victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton to become the 45th President of the United States of America.
There still was no definitive victor until after 2 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, when a win in Wisconsin, which was not considered a major deciding factor in this race until votes began being tallied, pushed Trump over the 270 electoral vote threshold. Trump led 279 – 228 Wednesday afternoon, with Arizona, Michigan and New Hampshire yet to be called.
A candidacy that began over 500 days ago with the demonization of undocumented Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “murderers,” evolving with calls for a ban on Muslims entering the country and the imprisonment of its chief opponent, ended with a push for unity from Trump.
“I pledge to every citizen in our land that I will be president for all Americans,” Trump said in his victory speech at 3 a.m. Wednesday. “I promise you that I will not let you down. We will do a great job.”
A Trump presidency means an uncertain future for the country, as he has not outlined specific policy plans for just about any issue. His running-mate, Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, is thought to have an important role in policy-making in this administration.
However, that uncertainty was highlighted by a plummet in US and global stock markets, an example being the Dow Jones which dropped over 800 points even before Trump officially won.
Whatever he tries to do, Trump is likely to have some support behind him as Republicans won more than just the White House. The GOP remains in control of the Senate in a 51 – 47 majority as of Wednesday afternoon with a seat in both New Hampshire and Louisiana still too close to call. Republicans also maintain control of the House – 238 to 191 – several seats still to be decided.
Trump’s win also ensures that he will name the next justice to the Supreme Court, likely causing it to tilt back in a conservative direction.
Polls and experts leading up to election day predicted a starkly different outcome. The New York Times gave Clinton an 85 percent chance of winning leading up to election day. That number completely flipped by 10:30 p.m., Tuesday. Most national polls saw Clinton leading in nearly every battleground state, however Trump won six of those eleven close contests, and he’s on track to winning another — Michigan — once the count is final.
Trump’s win in the battleground state of North Carolina at around 11 p.m. greatly narrowed the path to victory for Clinton. A strongly contested win in Pennsylvania sealed the deal for Trump after he narrowly edged Clinton in Florida, sweeping the South.
Demographic lines were drawn in the sand in this election. Trump easily won in majority-white areas, such as a two-to-one margin in West Virginia; Clinton swept areas with high minority populations such as Washington, D.C., which saw a whopping 93 percent to four percent margin.
Republicans overcame the growing notion that the white vote in America was weakening, and Democrats failed to mobilize minorities and women in the way they predicted. Democrats had the weakest showing on an election day in 20 years. As of Wednesday, Clinton earned about six million less votes than President Barack Obama did in 2012.
Trump will likely be the fourth president in history to be elected without winning the popular vote, the most recent being George W. Bush in 2000. Clinton led Trump by almost a quarter of a million votes nationwide Wednesday, with more to count in mostly democratic areas like California.
With the most volatile election cycle in memory, which saw accusations of sexual assault, FBI investigations and a candidate refuse to release his tax returns now over, American’s look to the future.
What the future holds for women and their right to choose, members of the LGBTQ+ community and their right to love, or Mexican-Americans born here to undocumented immigrants and their right to live in this country is anyone’s guess.
Clinton, in her concession speech on Wednesday made something very clear: the country must accept the outcome of this election, and it must unite.
“Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead,” Clinton said. “I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans.”