Donald J. Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States of America, defeating former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in perhaps the closest race since the 2000 election between then Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore.
In a redux to the 2004 presidential election, early exit polls badly mischaracterized the state of the race, as Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com reported early polls showing a practical blowout for Clinton. The significance of this error cannot be overstated as many pundits had predicted this would not be the long night it had turned out to be. Trump won the presidency with 279 Electoral College votes, while Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of 219,674 votes, according to the New York Times.
During a grueling campaign season, Trump’s path to the White House was built around unprecedented turnout amongst working class whites, giving him historical margins with that group across the nation. According to analysis by the New York Times, Trump won the non-college-educated-white vote by more than 40 points, dealing a significant blow to Clinton’s path to 270 as they constitute approximately 40 percent of the electorate.
Trump’s upset in the contest to succeed President Barack Obama is arguably a strong rebuke of Obama’s two terms as president. Early on in the night, Trump captured key swing states such as Florida and Ohio with the the Associate Press calling these races at 10:50 and 10:36 p.m. EST, respectively. The early times of said calls signaled a surprise Trump comeback across the Electoral College because election models such as Silver’s FiveThirtyEight and The New York Times’ Upshot Model indicated Trump had little to no chance of winning the election in the days prior.
In continuing with these come-from-behind wins, Trump ran the table in Rust Belt states that had consistently voted Democratic since 1992, including Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Michigan’s Macomb County, the original site of the oft-discussed Reagan Democrats, went red on the presidential level for the first time since 2004, representing a marked departure from Obama’s two-time victory in the county.
Trump’s bludgeoning of the “Blue Wall”– the typically democratic-leaning states of the upper-Midwest– is indicative of a massive realignment within American politics. By capturing Iowa and the aforementioned Rust Belt states, Trump showed that Democrats did not have an inherent advantage in the Electoral College and that demographic shifts are not enough to account for voting patterns.
Down ballot, Republicans road Trump’s coattails and minimized their losses with Illinois’ incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) losing to Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and New Hampshire’s incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) only narrowly trailing her challenger, Gov. Maggie Hassan. At press time, Republicans were expected to maintain a majority of 52-48 in the Senate, with incumbents sweeping key races in Missouri, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
In the House of Representatives, Republicans held onto 239 seats. Democrats managed to make a slight dent into the historically high Republican majority as they captured 193 seats, with competitive pickups in Illinois’ 10th district, New Jersey’s 5th, Florida’s 7th and New Hampshire’s 1st, at press time.