In a shocking victory over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, GOP candidate Donald J. Trump has won the 2016 election to become the 45th president of the United States.
In the early morning hours Wednesday, reports that Clinton had called Trump to concede surfaced, with multiple outlets, including the Associated Press, NBC News and more declaring his victory official.
In his home state of New York, he took the stage to speak to impassioned supporters, offering a speech about unity that was a direct, stark contrast to his entire campaign rhetoric.
“I’ve just received a call from Secretary Clinton. She congratulated us on our victory and I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard-fought campaign,” he said.
“Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division. I say to Democrats and Republicans … it is time for us to come together as one united people,” he said. “I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans and this is so important to me. For those who have chosen not to support me … I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together to unify our great country.”
“Ours was not a campaign, but rather an incredible and great movement,” he added.
His victory marked the first time in history that a person without political or military experience has won the presidency.
The stunning news followed a bitter and ugly election cycle, with both candidates trading jabs and insults, and supporters on both sides turning against each other in sometimes violent displays of dissension. Trump billed himself, quite successfully, as a Washington outsider, with his anti-establishment ideals promising to “Make America Great Again.” It was that phrase, coupled with often divisive and racist rhetoric that alarmed his detractors and yet, simultaneously seemed to fuel his supporters into a fervor.
Much like his rallies, the election night was tense, unpredictable and nail-biting.
Trump’s victory rested on key battleground states — Florida and North Carolina playing major roles in particular. In spite of Clinton victories in states like Virginia, California and Colorado, Trump ultimately secured his win after a night of an ever-shifting lead.
Clinton also failed to carry key states that President Barack Obama did in previous elections, including Florida, Ohio and the blue-leaning, swing state of Pennsylvania, which marked the end of the road for her campaign.
In most of the key states, the margins of victory were razor-thin. Even up to the final hours before polls closed nationwide, projections had Clinton taking the election by a landslide. But as state after state’s numbers rolled in, Trump performed far better than initial expectations.
The race was especially tense for voters of color, with Clinton campaigning hard to win over undecided Black and Latino voters, who often viewed her through a lens of distrust. Trump, for his part, employed an often glib approach to winning over Black and Latino voters with stunts like declaring “I love Hispanics” over a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo and saying “the Blacks” should vote for him because they were “living in hell” in “the inner cities.”
Ultimately, however, experts attribute his stronghold among non-college-educated whites across the country that helped him come out victorious over Clinton. As one of his supporters put it, the “silent White majority” came out in droves to support him.
CNN commenter Van Jones dubbed the victory a “White-lash” to an Obama presidency.
Much like Clinton’s supporters, the world seemed shocked at the news, with global markets tanking. Dow futures dropped more than 700 points.
For now, it’s unclear what a Trump presidency will look like, as almost none of his policies have yet to actually be fleshed out in-depth. But with a Republican-controlled Congress and Senate, and potentially multiple Supreme Court appointments, he stands to have a significant amount of influence at his hands.
Still, perhaps the most damaging and long-lasting repercussions of the election are the frightening divisions that have reached an all-time high among Americans, no doubt stirred up by a candidate whose campaign strategies included bans on Muslims and walls to block out Mexicans.