The improbable, remarkable, historic 2016 Presidential campaign has taken one final, stunning turn.
Donald Trump — yes, Donald Trump — has been elected the 45th President of the United States.
The release of the 2005 Access Hollywood tape in which Trump was caught making lewd comments about women had seemed to be the death blow to the republican’s chances. But 12 days ago, a letter from FBI Director James Comey in which he said that the FBI was looking into new emails reportedly discovered on the computer of disgraced former New York congressman Anthony Weiner changed everything.
As the hours passed and the networks remained hesitant to call the battleground states, the possibility, once seeemingly remote, became very real. Trump, who many prominent pollsters gave less than a 20% chance of winning as recently as today, was posting early leads in the states he needed to win.
Just before 9:00 p.m. ET, Mediaite founder Dan Abrams noted the red flags for the Hillary Clinton campaign.
“What felt like the potential for a Hillary Clinton blowout is now feeling like a very very close race,” Abrams said. “Hillary Clinton has not been able to put away, according to network projections, some of the key states that she needed to win to make this an easy race.”
As more time passed and the Trump-positive numbers continued to trickle in, Fox News’s Chris Wallace became one of the first to say what many Americans who were spellbound by the coverage were undoubtedly thinking:
“I think we’re all, at least I’m…open to the possibility That Donald Trump could be the next President of the United States,” Wallace said.
Another hour passed. Every state that was thought to be a toss-up going into the night remained so. North Carolina. Georgia. Florida. Virginia. Pennsylvania. All of their polls were shuttered. All of their outcomes remained inconclusive.
And then, shortly after 10:00 p.m., the first domino fell. Donald Trump was declared the projected winner in Ohio. Its 19 electoral votes went in the red column, and Trump scored a critical victory in the all-important bellweather state.
The momentum was clearly in his favor. Nate Silver, who just ninety minutes earlier gave Trump only a one-in-five chance of victory, was now declaring him the favorite.
Hillary Clinton received a momentary repreive when Virginia and Colorado were put in her column. But Virginia had long been assumed a sure thing for the former Secretary of State. A narrow victory called after hours of waiting shouldn’t have been cause for celebration.
And indeed, any celebrating in the Clinton camp soon proved a folly when North Carolina was called by Fox News for Trump. The other networks quickly followed.
Then came Florida. Hours earlier, Marco Rubio had won reelection to the US Senate. And perhaps on the coattails of the man he’d mercilessly dubbed “Little Marco,” Donald Trump captured the Sunshine State, and it became abundantly clear that this was going to be his night.
Another republican Senator thought to be vulnerable, Ron Johnson, held on to his seat in Wisconsin. And it was there that Donald Trump captured his most stunning victory. Few in either camp had the Badger state anywhere on their radar. But Trump improbably captured the state’s 10 electoral votes.
The financial markets, which had already priced in a Clinton victory, began a sharp freefall. The Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 futures dropped by more than 5%, which triggered an automatic halt in trading.
But there was no such panic at Donald Trump headquarters in Manhattan. The buzz was palpable. Their man was on the verge shocking the world.
Via our own Sam Reisman, this was the scene at Trump headquarters after Florida was called for the republican:
Crowd at Trump HQ after Fox calls Fla for trump. pic.twitter.com/LPhTrdZA8V
— Sam Reisman (@thericeman) November 9, 2016
There was a period of limbo. Clinton won Nevada, but it didn’t stop supporters from departing her rally at New York’s Javits Center. Many were in tears, according to numerous reports. They’d come to see history. Instead, they saw Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta — whose hacked emails have been exposed to the world little by little over the past month — telling them the campaign would have no further comment until the morning.
“We can wait a little longer, can’t we?” Podesta said. “They’re still counting votes.”
They were, but there weren’t enough to help Hillary Clinton overcome her deficit. At 2:31 a.m. ET, the Associated Press called Pennsylvania for Trump, giving him 274 electoral votes, topping the magic number of 270.
And with that, the most unlikely major party Predsidential candidate in American history had officially pulled off the most stunning of political upsets. Donald J. Trump is the President elect.
[image via Lev Radin – Shutterstock.com]
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