Donald Trump stunned the world by winning the title of president-elect early Wednesday, storming to crucial victories in a series of battleground states and emerging the victor of a bitterly fought campaign by a razor-thin margin.
One by one, the swing states fell his way: Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and then Wisconsin. Democrat Hillary Clinton had been clinging for hours to faint hopes as the election of the nation’s 45th president roared to a frenzied conclusion.
Shortly after 2 a.m. ET, she called Trump to concede.
“I pledge to be president for all Americans,” the billionaire real-estate mogul and reality TV star told an enthusiastic crowd of supporters in New York. “We are going to rebuild our inner cities… We will rebuild our infrastructure, which will become second to none.”
He pledge to create jobs and take care of veterans.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence spoke before Trump, thanking supporters for their support and enthusiasm.
“This is a historic night,” Pence said. “The American people have spoken and the American people have elected their new champion.”
Trump claimed victories in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Utah, Idaho, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Louisiana, Arkansas,Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming, Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana.
Pollsters and pundits have given Trump little chance of claiming the job ever since announcing his candidacy in a raucous speech in June 2015. But he quickly took the lead in a crowded Republican field, sweeping to the nomination despite drawing tepid support from party leaders.
Even as Tuesday began, he was given little chance of victory. But starting with Florida, almost every competitive state seem to go his way.
“Things that were true: undercover Trump vote; @mike_pence for VP; Hillary’s floor & ceiling r same; rally crowds matter; we expanded the map,” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted at 1:30 a.m. ET, an hour before victory was sealed.
Trump’s strong showing brought angst to world financial markets, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling as much as 500 points in after-hours trading. Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, said a Trump win would spark uncertainty and likely result in a steep fall in stock prices Wednesday.
Clinton clalimed California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, Illinois, New York, Connecticut,Rhode Island, Maryland, Massachusetts, Delaware, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington, D.C.
Trump and Clinton mostly shunned public appearances as the day wore on, although Trump conducted radio interviews and their social media accounts were far from silent.
“Don’t let up, keep getting out to vote – this election is FAR FROM OVER! We are doing well but there is much time left. GO FLORIDA!,” Trump tweeted before the state was won.
Clinton’s account chimed in early: “This team has so much to be proud of. Whatever happens tonight, thank you for everything.”
In Congress, Democratic hopes to gain five Senate seats needed to achieve a majority collapsed as the night wore on. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., had said while running for president that he would not seek re-election. He changed his mind and provided his party with a boost.
“Congratulations on the great victory, @marcorubio! Florida is critical to keeping the Senate,” tweeted Jeb Bush, a former Florida governor who, like Rubio, was vanquished by Trump in the Republican presidential primaries.
In Indiana, former Democratic senator and governor Evan Bayh lost to relative unknown GOP Rep. Todd Young. In Pennsylvania, GOP Sen. Pat Toomey fought back a stiff challenge from former state environmental secretary Katie McGinty.
Democrats did pick up a consolation prize, with Illinois with Rep. Tammy Duckworth ousting Republican Sen. Mark Kirk.
In the House of Representatives, Republicans were poised to maintain a solid majority.
More than 110 million votes had been counted in the presidential race by 2:30 a.m. ET, with millions more outstanding. Voters in several states had complained of long lines and computer malfunctions and other problems.
North Carolina kept some precincts open passed the 7:30 p.m. ET closing time to allow voters slowed by glitches.
In California, violence forced a lockdown of two polling places. Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan tweeted that voters in Azusa should seek alternate polling sites after a shooting affected two voting locations, including an elementary school. A gunman shot several people, killing one, and scattered would-be voters, police said.
Across the nation, surveys of voters leaving their polling places revealed an electorate more diverse, more educated and more upset than four years ago.
The surveys, from National Election Pool Survey by Edison Research, showed nearly a quarter of Americans described themselves as “angry” about the way government is functioning. Those people were at the core of Trump’s support.
Credit: USA Today