Americans went to polls on Tuesday to elect their next president after a deeply divisive campaign that ended just hours before on a contrasting note with Hillary Clinton stressing the need for unity and “healing” as Donald Trump stayed dark and gloomy.
Clinton was upbeat as she cast her vote, while most averages of polls such as by RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight pegged her at a lead of 3 points or more.
“It is the most humbling feeling, because I know how much responsibility goes with this,” the Democratic nominee told reporters outside a polling station near her home in Chappaqua, New York, where she was overwhelmed by hugs and handshakes.
Hours earlier, she closed her campaign at an event attended by tens of thousands of supporters in Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state keenly contested by both campaigns till the end.
“We choose to believe in a hopeful, inclusive, big-hearted America,” Clinton said, sharing stage with her family — former president Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, her top surrogates, and rock stars Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.
“So, there you were — Trump keeps saying Hillary doesn’t get crowds,” Anthony Faulk, an African American supporter of Clinton, said leaving the event, “that was a big party, bigger than anything he has had.” That venue can seat 33,000 people.
Trump, always a numbers man, was boasting about his crowds earlier at an event attended by less than 12,000, according to reports, telling supporters Clinton cannot match it. She got almost three times more in Philadelphia.
Trump’s preoccupation with filling up arenas seemed shadowed by worries of another set of numbers— his polls — which showed him trailing by a bit on polling eve, making the spectre of defeat a clear and present danger.
Trump brought it up at a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, another battleground state. “If we don’t win, I will consider this the single greatest waste of time, energy... and money,” he said. “If we don’t win, honestly, we’ve all wasted our time.”
He did not go on to repeat his threat to not accept the outcome if he lost as he had said at the last presidential debate, which had dismayed both pundits, who continue to delude themselves Trump can’t surprise them anymore, and his own party leaders.
Laura Kress, a Clinton supporter who came to the rally with her daughter and her friend, both millennials — “who says Hillary doesn’t have their support” — said she worried about Trump’s threat: “Will there be violence if he loses?”
Kress, like Clinton herself at times and many white educated white women appalled by Trump, repeatedly referred to the nominee only by the pronoun, “He” — not Trump, or Donald Trump or Trump or The Donald. Any reason? “Nah”.
She will vote Tuesday, and her millennial daughter, for Clinton, a decision she made when it first became clear “He” would be the Republican nominee. She has never wavered since, despite the controversies that have continued to dog Clinton.
White, college-educated women are among the five pillars of a new voting block increasingly called the “Clinton Coalition” — the other four are Hispanics/Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans and, the campaign insists, millennials.
Will they be sufficient for Clinton to make it to the White House, making her the first woman president in US history, a milestone crossed long ago by much younger nations such as India, Israel, Pakistan and Bangladesh?