Remarkable. Unprecedented. Historic. These are only a few of the words shocked pundits used to describe Donald Trump’s stunning Election Day upset. In an unexpected victory, Trump beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, November 8. With counts not yet finalized in Michigan or New Hampshire, Trump’s victory over Clinton currently stands at 290-228.
Trump will become the 45th president of the United States on Friday, January 20, 2017.
Going into Election Day, most polls showed Clinton ahead by a few points, though experts expected a tight race. In the crucial states of Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Virginia, both internal and public polls showed Clinton leading. In every state she needed to win, she was ahead — sometimes by 10 points or more.
At 11:00 p.m. (EST) on Election Day, Clinton was in the lead, by a margin of 37 votes. Her numbers had been bolstered by states like California, Oregon, Virginia and Washington all reporting Clinton victories. But tucked among these Clinton wins was a harbinger of doom. Ohio, which had been a Democratic state for the past six elections, was going with Trump this time around. He won the state by a 10 point margin to boot.
Then, just a few minutes later, a spate of states announced that their votes were for Trump — including Florida, Georgia, Iowa and North Carolina. Iowa was a particularly painful loss for Clinton, as the state, like Ohio, is traditionally Democratic-won. She also lost Iowa by a large margin: nine points. Together, these states’ votes caused an unexpected reversal. Suddenly Trump led the count, by a margin of 35 votes.
The bad news would keep coming for Clinton.
Michigan remained too close to call. Wisconsin, which President Barack Obama won by seven points in 2012, was leaning toward Trump. Pennsylvania — where polls showed Clinton ahead by eight — turned into a nail-biting nightmare for the Clinton camp.
Eventually, the writing on the wall became clear. Though neither Pennsylvania nor Wisconsin had officially announced, the numbers coming from the counties indicated that both states would eventually declare for Trump. And for Clinton to successfully wrest the presidency away from Trump, she would have needed every remaining state to be a win.
So at about 2:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Clinton called Trump to congratulate him on his victory.
President-elect Trump then made a gracious speech, thanking his opponent and telling his constituents that the nation owes Clinton a “major debt of gratitude” for service to the country as first lady, New York senator and secretary of state.
“I just received a call from Secretary Clinton,” he said. “She congratulated us on our victory. And I congratulated her on a hard-fought campaign.”
Promising to be a president to “all our citizens,” Trump called for Americans to “come together as one united people.”
The remainder of his speech was devoted to outlining some of his plans, including taking care of veterans, revamping the nation’s infrastructure and addressing the problems of inner cities. He also pledged to double U.S. growth and restore America’s economy to the strongest “anywhere in the world.”
Trump also took time to thank his supporters, including Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. There are rumors that both men will have prominent positions in the new administration.
Despite her call to Trump, Clinton did not appear before her supporters at the Javits Center in New York City — something that some social media critics eagerly pounced on. Rather, her campaign manager, John Podesta, was dispatched to the location to let people know she would not be speaking until later on Wednesday. He told the crowd that Clinton had done an “amazing job” and that she wasn’t done yet.
“They’re still counting votes. Every vote should count,” Podesta said. “Several states are too close to call. So we’re not going to have anything more to say tonight.”
He encouraged people to go home, and let the audience know that the campaign would have “more to say” later on Wednesday.
That “more” turned out to be a concession speech from a candidate the establishment thought couldn’t lose.