MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – In a result that shocked the world, Donald Trump, real estate magnate and reality television star, wins the tightly-contested US presidential elections held Tuesday, November 8, winning a slew of states to claim enough electoral votes to make him the next President of the United States.
The 70-year-old billionaire populist, the standard-bearer of the Republican Party, snatched victory from his main opponent Hillary Clinton – the 69-year-old Democratic former first lady, senator and secretary of state – who was previously the narrow favorite to win the White House.
Pre-election polls pointed to a narrow Clinton win. But as polls closed and media called state races one-by-one, giving the key battleground states of Ohio, Florida and North Carolina to the Republican maverick, pollsters scrambled to update their forecasts and point to an improbable upset.
As of 2:36 am Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, November 9, Trump was projected to win 27 states worth 276 electoral college votes, according to the count by the Associated Press. Clinton, on the other hand, stood at a projected 218 electoral votes. Five states – Alaska, Arizona, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Michigan – have yet to be called.
To win, a candidate needs 270 electoral votes.
Trump’s string of successes reflected how deeply divided the American electorate has become, and showcased his ability to tap into white blue-collar voters’ resentment of cultural change linked to immigration and the loss of manufacturing jobs at home.
On the legislative side, the Republicans were on course to retain their majority in the US House of Representatives, according to network projections – a situation that has been a thorn in the side of incumbent President Barack Obama.
The results prompted a global market sell-off, with stocks plunging across Asia and Europe and billions being wiped off the value of investments. (READ: Philippine stocks plunge to 7-month low on Trump’s stunning win)
Mexicans, fearing Trump’s vow to build a wall to cut America off from its southern neighbor, were dismayed and the peso fell to historic lows.
But it was not all economic gloom, as Moscow’s stock market surged on the news and a Philippine property firm that is building a skyscraper licensed by the US tycoon saw its shares surge 20%.
Russia’s autocratic leader Vladimir Putin offered warm congratulations and seized on the opportunity to urge Trump to help him get “US-Russia relations out of their critical condition.” (READ: World leaders take stock of Trump win)
But EU leaders Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker invited him to an EU-US summit at his “earliest convenience” to seek reassurances about trans-Atlantic ties.
And NATO head Jens Stoltenberg warned Trump, who spoke during the campaign of making US allies take a bigger share of the Western security burden, that “US leadership is more important than ever.”
Trump openly courted Putin during the race, called US support for NATO allies in Europe into question and suggested that South Korea and Japan should develop their own nuclear weapons.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reacted to Trump’s election by insisting that his country and the United States are “unshakeable allies.”
One ally took heart from Trump’s win. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett said it guaranteed that his state would never have to accept the idea of an independent Palestine.
And some of the most enthusiastic support for Trump came from far-right and nationalist politicians in Europe such as French opposition figure Marine Le Pen, Matteo Salvini of Italy’s Northern League and British euroskeptic Nigel Farage.
Bruising campaign season
The 2016 race was the most bruising in modern memory.
Obama’s election 8 years ago as the nation’s first black president had raised hopes of uniting Americans, but the current contest has only highlighted the country’s divisions – and the fact that voters are not necessarily happy with their options.
Clinton supporters who had gathered at a glittering reception in New York expecting to hear a victory speech from Clinton fell quiet and jabbed nervously at their phones.
Major donors had tears in their eyes as they stared stupefied at the screens, and an audible gasp filled the room when North Carolina went into Trump’s win column.
“Not great,” muttered railroad retiree Joan Divenuti, who came all the way from Massachusetts to cheer her heroine. “Florida was always a problem,” she added.
Across town at the Trump election party, the 70-year-old property tycoon’s supporters – a more well-heeled crowd than the blue-collar Midwesterners he is counting on for victory – cheered and pumped their fists at each advance.
“I think we’re going to win,” said 22-year-old Brendon Pena, who works for a company that leases office space in the soaring Trump Tower.
“I was always positive. I think Donald Trump is a really smart guy. He knows what we’re going to do and we’re going to win the election.” – With reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com