A caustic year of elections in the US came to an end with Trump riding a wave of populist resentment to win Hillary Clinton last night. He swept to victory through a series of hard-fought wins in battleground states from Florida to Ohio.
Bizarrely, Clinton had called Trump asking him to concede the election just minutes before Vice President-Elect Mike Pence addressed a celebration of jubilant Trump supporters at the New York Hilton to announce Trump's victory. Shortly thereafter Clinton conceded herself.
“This is a historic night,” said Pence, introducing Trump to the crowd. “The American people have spoken and the American people have elected their new champion. America has elected a new president.”
The paradox of Trump is that at age 70, with no government experience, he will be the oldest man to ever become president.
Trump’s victory speech
Despite an election campaign in which Trump lambasted Clinton for numerous failures and crimes and said she belonged in jail, in his victory speech he thanked Clinton for her years of public service and said she was owed a major debt of gratitude for her service to the country.
Then Trump said a conciliatory message to the cheering crowd, “Now we have to work together with Democrats and Independents and Republicans around this country, and it is time for us to come together. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans.
“Ours was not a campaign, rather a great and unique movement. It's a movement comprised of Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds and beliefs. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”
Addressing the international community, Trump said, “While we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone — all people and all other nations. We will seek common ground, not hostility, partnership, not conflict.”
Global markets melt down
The immediate effect of Trump’s victory was to plunge global markets into turmoil. A global market sell-off took place, with stocks plunging across Asia and Europe and billions being wiped off the value of investments. As seen with the Brexit vote, however, these losses are likely to be temporary.
Brutal humiliation for President Obama
During his improbable rise, Trump has constantly proved the pundits and perceived political wisdom wrong. He was opposed by the entire senior hierarchy of his own Republican Party, and trounced more than a dozen better-funded and more experienced rivals in the party primary.
The hidden Trump voter, which was a point of controversy during the race, turned out to be a real phenomenon that put Trump over the top.
The election result was also a brutal humiliation for the White House incumbent, Obama, who on the eve of the election, told tens of thousands of people in Philadelphia, “I’m betting that tomorrow, most moms and dads across America won’t cast their vote for someone who denigrates their daughters. I’m betting that tomorrow, true conservatives won’t cast their vote for somebody with no regard for the Constitution.”
Trump’s shock victory is just the latest evidence that globalization has eroded faith in liberal political leadership. From Britain’s vote to leave the European Union to the rise of far right populists and nationalists in continental Europe, opposition to open trade, migrants and government by elites are on the rise.
How election night progressed
Just before 10:30 p.m. on election night, Ohio and its 18 electoral votes were called for Trump. (Ohio has maintained its record of siding with the winning candidate in every presidential election since 1964.)
Around 15 minutes later, Virginia and its 13 electoral votes went to Clinton. Shortly after 11 p.m., North Carolina — with 15 electoral votes — was called for Trump. A half hour later, Florida — with its prize of 29 electoral votes — was called for the Republican candidate despite heavy Latino turnout in the state.
Trump then swept up North Carolina. He shifted to states Clinton saw as safe: Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes pushed him over the 270 needed to win the presidency.
By 2:30 am, Trump had secured 274 votes, officially making him the next President of the United States. Media outlets that had predicted Clinton dominating in electoral votes were shown to be way off.
Senate and the House
The Senate had 34 seats up for election in 2016, with 54 controlled by Republicans and 45 Democrats. Democrats had to pick up at least five seats to seize the Senate majority. They never came close. Democrats picked up only one seat in Illinois.
Republicans retain control of the Senate with 53 seats.
All 435 House seats were up for election on November 8, 2016. The magnitude of the GOP's down-ballot victories was stunning. Incumbents held seats most Republicans worried would be lost in some states. So far, the Democrats hold 191 seats, and the Republicans 236.
Under a Donald Trump presidency, a Republican Congress and White House will be able to attempt sweeping rollbacks of landmark items of Barack Obama’s presidency, including the health-care law known as Obamacare and the nuclear deal with Iran struck last year. He will also be able to appoint a ninth Supreme Court justice to a vacant seat on the bench, deciding the balance of the body.
Polls Failed Again
The spotlight is once again on polling companies who failed to predict the outcome of the presidential election, and were unable to see the swell in support for Donald Trump.
Before election day, they were showing a sustained but narrowing lead for Hillary Clinton following the FBI resuming their investigation into her use of a private email server.
A week before the election, the Telegraph's poll tracker was showing that Clinton could rely on 247 electoral college votes, while Trump had secured 164 votes from Republican states. On the morning of the election Clinton was predicted to win 206 electoral college votes while Trump was expected to get 164. The remaining 168 were toss-ups with big states like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania too close to call.
American data journalism site FiveThirtyEight gave Trump a 33 per cent chance of victory going into the final few days but this was generous compared to other forecasters.
Over the last two months, only 10 polls out of 93 published on Real Clear Politics gave Trump the lead. Nine of these were from LA Times/ USC, and one was from Fox.
Ultimately the vast majority of polls were proved to be wrong.