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Beating all odds: Donald Trump secures shock victory against Hillary Clinton

He defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who led all polls and forecasts barring a few exceptions for most of the year, riding a wave of anger and disaffection among largely white and relatively less-educated blue-collar workers.

world Updated: Nov 09, 2016 20:50 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
US elections 2016,US election results,Hillary Clinton
US President elect Donald Trump speaks at election night rally in Manhattan.(Reuters Photo)

It’s President Donald Trump now. Get used to it.

The Republican nominee, who upended politics at home with his wildly unpredictable ways and a sharp tongue and caused concern abroad with his unorthodox views, has been elected the 45th president of the US, pulling off a stunning upset.

He defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who led all polls and forecasts barring a few exceptions for most of the year, riding a wave of anger and disaffection among largely white and relatively less-educated blue-collar workers.

The race was marked by unprecedented nastiness and divisiveness, with the 70-year-old real estate billionaire largely at the center of it, first as a candidate for the Republican ticket and then as the party’s general election nominee.

While Clinton and the Democratic party were his primary targets, Trump had appeared to be running against his own party as well, most of whose leaders abandoned him, and the media that he disparaged constantly but mined for free airtime.

But he struck a reconciliatory tone in his first remarks after being declared elected early on Wednesday morning, calling for unity. Flanked by his family and running mate Mike Pence, he said it was time “to bind the wounds of division”.

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“To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people,” Trump said, pledging to be “president for all of Americans, and this is so important to me”.

Trump had disparaged Hispanics, calling them rapists and criminals, called for a ban on Muslims entering the US and openly flirted with white supremacists during the campaign, driving divisiveness wherever he could profit politically.

The president-elect, however, was most unlike the nominee. His government, he pledged, will serve all Americans “from all races, religions, backgrounds, and beliefs, who want and expect our government to serve the people”.

Reading from a teleprompter, which he seemed to have embraced completely in the final stages of the campaign, Trump also seemed mindful of the role of the US in the world, and of the need to address concerns caused by his unorthodox views.

“I want to tell the world community that while we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone, with everyone, all people and all other nations,” Trump said. “We will seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.”

He had railed against China on the campaign trail, said Japan and South Korea were free to go nuclear, and that the US would not come to Europe’s rescue.

It will take more than words to calm nerves both abroad and at home. He may have made a start though, speaking well of Clinton, with whom he was barely on talking terms during the campaign, saying the country should thank her for her service.

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The Democratic nominee caused a minor stir earlier when her campaign chair John Podesta announced she would not be making a speech after it became clear Trump was going to win, and she would be expected to deliver the customary concession speech.

Votes are still being counted, Podesta told supporters on Tuesday night, adding Clinton would speak the next morning. As pundits and TV talking heads went into an early morning funk, Clinton called Trump, conceded the race and congratulated him.

As the counting of votes continued late into Tuesday night, Trump had wrapped up all the critical battleground states of Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, leaving Clinton without a plausible path to victory.

Of the battleground states, Clinton took only Virginia and Colorado in a staggering reversal of opinion polls, surveys and forecasts that had the Democrat leading in most of the swing states, and nationally, for most of the year.

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Clinton led along forecast lines in the early results, but those trends quickly turned as Trump caught up and surged past her within a few hours. Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania all followed the same pattern, as if scripted.

Soon Trump was leading Clinton in the count of electoral college votes, which technically determine the race and not the popular vote. Forecasters such as FiveThirtyEight and The New York Times’s The UpShot suddenly had him as the favourite.

States the Clinton campaign had considered to be its firewall – such as Michigan and Wisconsin, two of the rust belt states, so called because of their shuttered and rusting factories – saw Trump build up a sizable lead.

In the end, Clinton was left with nothing else to lose but the election, and failed once again to shatter a glass ceiling she had left with 18 million cracks in 2008, the number of votes she polled in the Democratic primaries that she lost to Barack Obama.

First Published: Nov 09, 2016 20:44 IST