Trump Beats Clinton in Shocking Electoral Upset
With several states still uncalled, Donald Trump surpassed the 270 Electoral College vote total required to defeat Hillary Clinton and win the American Presidency in the early morning hours of Wednesday, November 9, 2016. At the time of publication, it appears likely, however, that Clinton will finish ahead of Trump in the final popular vote tally.
America will soon have a politically united Federal Government, as the Republican Party retained its control of both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
In what many journalists, pundits, and historians are calling the most shocking upset in American electoral history, the celebrity real estate tycoon was able to flip pre-election polling projections in virtually every battleground state and a few Democratic “safe-states” to stun the campaign of the former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State.
As late as the early evening of Tuesday, November 8, many news outlets, pollsters and political experts were projecting a solid, if not overwhelming, victory for Clinton. Wave after wave of election results, however, began to paint a profoundly different reality as the night wore on.
It was no secret that the 2016 election had been tightening in the last week of campaigning, but state polls and projections continued to give Democrats seemingly endless reasons for optimism going into election night. Polling consensus prior to election day showed that Clinton had solid control over most traditional Democratic states, and needed to secure only one or two key battleground states to ensure an electoral victory.
Clinton’s campaign, the Democratic establishment, and media outlets nationwide thought the “blue wall” of secure Democratic-leaning states was solidly in the bag for the Democratic nominee. After the first few rounds of states reported results, the “wall” started to crack for Clinton. Before long, it was crumbling around her.
When the dust had settled, Trump had won the three major swing states of Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina, and claimed their 62 electoral votes. Yet those victories alone did not break the back of the Clinton campaign. Rather, it was Trump’s stunning flip of key Midwestern states that had been traditional Democratic strongholds that rocketed him to the title of “President-elect.”
In particular, the Republican’s victories in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, along with his apparent victory in Michigan, were especially shocking. All three of those states had gone to the Democratic candidate for president in every United States general election since 1992. On election night, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania’s combined 30 electoral votes were critical to propelling Trump past the magic 270 electoral vote threshold.
In his victory speech, delivered in the early hours of November 9, Trump pivoted from months of harsh partisan rhetoric to a call for national unity. The President-elect told supporters, “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all.”
Reeling from a painful and dramatically unexpected electoral loss, both Clinton and President Barak Obama spoke with Trump soon after his victory, but did not speak publically until midday. When she did deliver her concession speech, a resilient Clinton apologized to her supporters, and urged acceptance of the electoral process, saying of Trump, “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”
President Obama, whose legacy will surely be questioned after the election of a presidential successor in such stark ideological contrast to him, also spoke on the afternoon following the election. Like Clinton, Obama called for respect and unity across a divided nation. He noted, “”Everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But we have to remember that we are all on the same team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We’re Americans first. We’re patriots first.”
Alarming to many Democratic supporters and pundits alike was the glaring inaccuracy of months of meticulously conducted national and state polls showing Clinton in solid control of the election.
While a continuous stream of voter turnout data will pour in throughout the coming weeks to solve the mystery behind Trump’s unexpected upset, exit polls, surveys conducted with voters leaving voter locations, tell some of the story behind this historic electoral result.
According to CNN and Associated Press exit polls, Trump outperformed Clinton with white voters, voters over the age of 45, and voters without a college degree. While these results are consistent with expectations for the election, early exit polls revealed a high number of voters (69 percent) who felt “angry/dissatisfied” with the Federal Government, and Trump held a 22-point edge over Clinton with those voters.
For Clinton, the exit polls showed she failed to create the kind of broad, dominant voter coalition many expected. She was only able to attract the support of eight percent of Republican women, 35 percent of veterans, and 47 percent of independent women.
An indicator as to how Trump was able to pull off such an unexpected upset in the industrial Midwest can be found in the exit polls as well. The surveys show Clinton received only 51 percent of the vote from “union households,” once the staunchly Democratic core of the white blue-collar voting bloc.
Regardless of emerging revelations into how and why Trump was able to pull off an electoral win in the face of doubt from virtually every entity beyond his inner campaign circle, one illuminated fact is that this was a historic American election. In the coming days, weeks, and months, the entire world will be watching the spectacle of American democracy closer than ever before. Trump’s policy agenda, his political appointees, and his plans to heal a wounded and divided country are still unclear, just as the whole election has seemed from the very beginning.