None of the pollsters came close to predicting the swell of support for Donald Trump that manifested Tuesday, not only in the Rust Belt but even in some states held by Democrats for decades.
While analysts felt a healthy win was in store for Hillary Clinton, Trump’s numbers defied all projections.
The Republican crossed the magic line around 2:40 a.m. Wednesday to secure the 270 Electoral College seats needed to be named president-elect.
In a victory speech from New York, Trump began by saying the country owes Clinton “a major debt of gratitude” for her service and called on Americans to mend national wounds of division.
“I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important for me,” he said, asking those who did not support him for help in unifying the country.
Trump continued by pledging to put millions of Americans to work, take care of veterans, double economic growth, and “get along with all other nations willing to get along with us.”
“America will no longer settle for anything less than the best. We must reclaim our country’s destiny and dream big and bold and daring,” he said.
With the victory, Trump will be inaugurated Jan. 20 as the 45th president of the United States. He plans to meet Thursday with President Barack Obama to discuss a transition of power.
The path to the White House was statistically unlikely for the Park Avenue billionaire, who was expected to be stuck behind the “blue wall” states traditionally dominated by the political left.
Ohio, which just two weeks ago had leaned toward Clinton in the polls, deepened its red tint leading up to Election Day. Trump took the state in a nearly nine-point decision.
That included a reversal in normally blue Lorain County, where Trump bested Clinton 65,346 to 64,958, according to the unofficial tally.
That’s a surprising change here, where historically voters backed Democrats Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama by wide margins over Republican presidential hopefuls.
Clinton led in absentee voting and early Election Night numbers posted by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
That trend quickly reversed as the statewide vote count climbed to 5.3 million, widening at one point to 11 points in favor of the Republican candidate before narrowing again.
Then the swing states one by one turned red: Florida. North Carolina. Wisconsin. Pennsylvania. Michigan.
All had been expected to lean toward Clinton after a late campaign bump for Democrats as shown by polls but were captured by the Republican turnout.
Exit polls by an number of groups showed the surge was powered by white women, especially those over 40 and identifying as protestant.
Nearly two-thirds of voters interviewed by major firms also said they are wary of Trump’s ability to lead, no matter whether they voted for him.
Regardless, Trump will inherit incredibly strong footing in Washington, D.C., with the party in control of Congress and likely the chance to name at least one Supreme Court justice.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Graphic by Jason Hawk | Civitas Media The so-called “blue wall” was knocked down Tuesday as president-elect Donald Trump found unanticipated strength in swing states. States with Democratic wins are shown in blue and Republican wins are shown in red.