Donald Trump was elected America’s 45th president Tuesday, an astonishing victory for a celebrity businessman and political novice who capitalized on voters’ economic anxieties.
His triumph over Hillary Clinton will end eight years of Democratic dominance of the White House and threatens to undo major achievements of President Barack Obama. He’s pledged to act quickly to repeal Obama’s landmark health care law, revoke the nuclear agreement with Iran and rewrite important trade deals with other countries, particularly Mexico and Canada.
The Republican blasted through Democrats’ longstanding firewall, carrying Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states that hadn’t voted for a GOP presidential candidate since the 1980s. He needed to win nearly all of the competitive battleground states, and he did just that, claiming Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and others.
Trump will take office with Congress expected to be fully under Republican control. GOP Senate candidates fended off Democratic challengers in key states and appeared poised to maintain the majority. Republicans also maintained their grip on the House.
Senate control means Trump will have great leeway in appointing Supreme Court justices, which could mean a major change to the right that would last for decades.
His final campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, touted the team’s accomplishments as the final results rolled in, writing on Twitter that “rally crowds matter” and “we expanded the map.”
The mood at Clinton’s party grew bleak as the night wore out, with some supporters leaving, others crying and hugging each other. Top campaign aides stopped returning calls and texts, as Clinton and her family hunkered down in a luxury hotel watching the returns.
At 2 a.m., Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta told the crowd to head home for the night. “We’re still counting votes and every vote should count,” he said.
Trump took the stage just before 3am and offered his acceptance speech. He said it’s “time for us to come together,” pledges to be president “for all Americans.” President-elect Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton called and congratulated him on his victory.
Trump will inherit an anxious nation, deeply divided by economic and educational opportunities, race and culture.
The Republican Party’s tortured relationship with its nominee was evident right up to the end. Former President George W. Bush and wife Laura Bush declined to back Trump, instead selecting “none of the above” when they voted for president, according to spokesman Freddy Ford.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, a reluctant Trump supporter, called the businessman earlier in the evening to congratulate him, according to a Ryan spokeswoman.
Democrats, as well as some Republicans, expected Trump’s unconventional candidacy would damage down-ballot races and even flip some reliably red states in the presidential race. But Trump held on to Republican territory, including in Georgia and Utah, where Clinton’s campaign confidently invested resources.
Clinton asked voters to keep the White House in her party’s hands for a third straight term. She cast herself as heir to President Barack Obama’s legacy and pledged to make good on his unfinished agenda, including passing immigration legislation, tightening restrictions on guns and tweaking his signature health care law.
But she struggled throughout the race with persistent questions about her honesty and trustworthiness. Those troubles flared anew late in the race, when FBI Director James Comey announced a review of new emails from her tenure at the State Department. On Sunday, just two days before Election Day, Comey said there was nothing in the material to warrant criminal charges against Clinton.