Upending the political establishment and shocking pollsters, an avalanche of disillusioned voters handed the White House to Donald J. Trump and control of both the House and Senate to Republicans.
For the first time in U.S. history, the next president will have no record of service either in the military or in government office.
The New York businessman’s victory swept away years of divided government and opened the door to an ideological shift in the U.S. Supreme Court, where issues including abortion and voting rights hang in the balance.
Democrat Hillary Clinton won three of every four nonwhite voters, but Trump’s victory blew away the possibility she would carry forward the legacy of President Barack Obama.
Clinton had hoped for the support of women voters turned off by Trump’s past behavior, but it was not enough. College-educated white women voted for Clinton 51 percent to 45 percent, but white women without a college degree favored Trump by 62 percent.
White evangelical voters sided with Trump by an 81 percent margin according to some exit polls, despite the sexual allegations or Trump’s two divorces. Trump secured their support with arguments such as his opposition to abortion and his promise to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices.
The reasons for Trump’s startling win will be analyzed for years, but in the days ahead, attention quickly will focus on the results.
Now awaiting fulfillment is Trump’s promise to scrutinize Islam, deport this country’s millions of illegal immigrants and block immigration with a wall on the Mexican border.
Likewise facing immediate personal uncertainty are the millions of Americans who currently have health insurance made possible by Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act. They stand to lose that coverage when the new president and next year’s Republican Congress fulfill their promises to repeal the ACA.
Will this bring back the days when people with pre-existing conditions could not get coverage, and medical bills caused most of the nation’s personal bankruptcies? Trump promised something better, but offered few specifics.
Outside the United States, allies in Europe and Asia have watched with alarm as Trump criticized NATO and expressed his admiration for Russian leader Vladimir Putin and North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un.
As with Great Britain’s vote this year to leave the European Union, Tuesday night’s U.S. election could be seen abroad as a rejection of international collaboration.
Trump made an unconventional but apparently successful appeal in economics as well, bashing global trade and partners such as China as the reason U.S. factories and jobs had moved abroad, depriving blue-collar workers and rust-belt states of their livelihood. He promised he would make those jobs return. How exactly, he did not say.
In Washington state, whose economy depends heavily on foreign trade, a majority of voters favored Clinton – as well as Democrats Jay Inslee, who cruised to re-election as Governor, and Patty Murray, who kept her U.S. Senate seat with 60 percent of the vote.
Out in Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District, however, it was Trump country. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, leader of the House Republican caucus and a backer of Trump, defeated Democrat Joe Pakootas with 58 percent of the vote.
More than federal legislation was at issue in Tuesday night’s election.
With Washington’s 2017 Legislature set to focus on funding of public schools, many insiders this fall had focused on a challenge to three incumbents on the state Supreme Court. Enforcing the state Constitution’s resounding declaration that public schools are the “paramount duty” of the state, the state’s highest court has held the Legislature in contempt for a longstanding failure to comply. But all the three of the Supreme Court challengers lost, assuring that the high court’s scrutiny will continue unabated.
The result is expected to be one of the most contentious state legislative sessions in memory, with the Senate still tilting toward Republicans and the House in Democratic hands.
The nation’s next president was born June 14, 1946, in New York City. After graduation from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance, he went to work for his father, a developer of rental housing in Queens. He began his career renovating and constructing hotel and apartment buildings.
He expanded into international high-rise buildings, casinos, golf courses and resorts.
Six times his businesses filed for bankruptcy. Although he has refused to release his income tax returns as other presidential candidates have done, he acknowledged using his business losses to avoid paying federal taxes for years.
Subcontractors who helped build and furnish Trump’s resorts have alleged that he failed to pay them – spawning numerous lawsuits documented in an investigation by USA Today. Trump replied that the contractors did bad work.
As financial setbacks grew, Trump began licensing the use of his name and he aggressively cultivated fame.
Trump made forays into television, starring in reality shows “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice,” where contestants competed to work for him. He purchased the Miss Universe organization and became a producer of several beauty pageants. This became controversial with women’s groups after he bragged that he could walk into dressing rooms and inspect the unclothed young women.
Long a voice in conservative politics, Trump claimed for years that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
He launched brief forays into other realms, such as a football team, an airline shuttle and a real estate training school. Trump University, now defunct, prompted consumer lawsuits charging him with fraud; still pending, one of these cases led to Trump’s accusation that the Indiana-born judge was Mexican and therefore not, in Trump’s view, to be trusted.
But the nation’s voters, apparently weary of conventional politics, cast the negative aspects of Trump’s record to the side.
Around 3 a.m. Wednesday, Trump appeared to a cheering throng in New York City and said Clinton had conceded. He congratulated her on “a very hard-fought campaign.”
“We owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country,” he said.
“Now it is time for us to come together as one united people. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans.
“For those who have chosen not to support me,” he said, “I am reaching out to you for your guidance and help so we can unify our great country.
“The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild.
“We will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild.
“We will embark,” he said, “on a project of national renewal.”
To U.S. allies, he said that while he will put American interests first, “We will deal fairly with everyone.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.