Trump’s upset was one he had been predicting for months, gleefully comparing himself to the Brexit vote in England. Yet it was one that almost no other major predictors foresaw, all giving Clinton various degrees of comfortable leads in their election day predictions.
“It was Donald Trump versus almost all the experts … it looks like Donald Trump was right,” Jake Tapper said on CNN at 10:40 pm on election night (before major battleground states had been called).
Trump, a reality television star and political neophyte, upended every rule in the book to clinch his victory. He bested 15 other candidates in the Republican primary, most of whom were governors and senators.
“One of [Donald] Trump’s real sources of strength is not just that he took the fight to the elites in an abstract way, but that he was the one guy on a stage of 16 candidates who really seemed culturally disconnected from the other candidates,” J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, told TIME before the general election.
In the general election, Trump didn’t run his campaign in any sort of traditional way. He was outspent in campaign ads by Clinton by 3 to 1, and he had a small, disorganized ground game up against the Clinton election machine.
TIME wrote two separate cover stories about the meltdowns and disarray inside the Trump campaign. Not to mention the candidate’s freewheeling, bombastic speaking style and penchant for engaging in Twitter fights with Gold Star families and former beauty pageant contestants.
But throughout his campaign, Trump openly flouted convention and touted his success in tapping into a populist vein in the country that no other candidates had been able to effectively access. “This is a movement,” Trump would tell his followers who showed up by the tens of thousands to see him speak.
Many supported him from their anger and their sense that the country needs a big change, that the way government works is broken. In the final days of his campaign Trump began using the slogan "drain the swamp" to talk about the nation's capitol, which he said crowds loved.
Trump’s victory exposed real divisions and new fault lines in the American populace, as he was on track to win huge majorities of non-college educated whites, while winning less of college-educated whites, who are normally reliably Republican. The fight between the first female major party candidate and the man accused of sexually assaulting women also turned into a referendum on gender; “what women can be, and what men can get away with,” as TIME put it in the cover story the week before the election.
"There’s going to be a schism of some sort," former Republican Gov. Bill Weld, who ran as the vice presidential candidate on the Libertarian ticket this election, told TIME before the election.
As president, Trump has promised he will build a wall along the border with Mexico, suspend the Syrian refugee resettlement program, repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and renegotiate NAFTA. His election, coupled with Republican control of Congress, will also likely put a new conservative Supreme Court justice in the seat vacated by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Conventional wisdom said everything from demographics to campaign infrastructure would keep Donald Trump from ever reaching the White House and making good on these goals. But Trump told his followers not to believe the polls showing him down and promised the pundits that there were secret Trump voters out there.
"100%" his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted early Wednesday morning before the election was called, in response to a Washington Post writer tweeting, "There was a silent Trump vote. A big one." It turns out Trump was right.
Thank you. Thank you very much, everyone. Sorry to keep you waiting. Complicated business, complicated. Thank you very much.
I've just received a call from secretary Clinton. She congratulated us. It’s about us. On our victory, and I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard-fought campaign.
I mean she fought very hard. Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.
I mean that very sincerely. Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, have to get together, to all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.
It is time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all of Americans, and this is so important to me. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I'm reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country. As I've said from the beginning, ours was not a campaign but rather an incredible and great movement, made up of millions of hard-working men and women who love their country and want a better, brighter future for themselves and for their family.
It is a movement comprised of Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds and beliefs, who want and expect our government to serve the people, and serve the people it will.
Working together we will begin the urgent task of rebuilding our nation and renewing the American dream. I've spent my entire life in business, looking at the untapped potential in projects and in people all over the world.
We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We're going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none, and we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it. We will also finally take care of our great veterans who have been so loyal, and I've gotten to know so many over this 18-month journey.
The time I've spent with them during this campaign has been among my greatest honors.
Our veterans are incredible people. We will embark upon a project of national growth and renewal. I will harness the creative talents of our people and we will call upon the best and brightest to leverage their tremendous talent for the benefit of all. It is going to happen. We have a great economic plan. We will double our growth and have the strongest economy anywhere in the world. At the same time we will get along with all other nations, willing to get along with us. We will be. We will have great relationships. We expect to have great, great relationships. No dream is too big, no challenge is too great. Nothing we want for our future is beyond our reach.
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. We have to do that. We're going to dream of things for our country, and beautiful things and successful things once again.
I want to tell the world community that while we will always put America's interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone, with everyone.
All people and all other nations. We will seek common ground, not hostility, partnership, not conflict. And now I would like to take this moment to thank some of the people who really helped me with this, what they are calling tonight a very, very historic victory.
First I want to thank my parents, who I know are looking down on me right now. Great people. I've learned so much from them. They were wonderful in every regard. I are truly great parents. I also want to thank my sisters, Marianne and Elizabeth who are here with us tonight. Where are they? They're here someplace. They're very shy actually.
And my brother Robert, my great friend. Where is Robert? Where is Robert?
My brother Robert, and they should be on this stage but that's okay. They're great.
And also my late brother Fred, great guy. Fantastic guy. Fantastic family. I was very lucky.
Great brothers, sisters, great, unbelievable parents. To Melania and Don and Ivanka and Eric and Tiffany and Barron, I love you and I thank you, and especially for putting up with all of those hours. This was tough.
This was tough. This political stuff is nasty and it is tough. So I want to thank my family very much. Really fantastic. Thank you all. Thank you all. Lara, unbelievable job. Unbelievable. Vanessa, thank you. Thank you very much. What a great group.
You've all given me such incredible support, and I will tell you that we have a large group of people. You know, they kept saying we have a small staff. Not so small. Look at all of the people that we have. Look at all of these people.
And Kellyanne and Chris and Rudy and Steve and David. We have got tremendously talented people up here, and I want to tell you it's been very, very special.
Gov. Chris Christie, folks, was unbelievable. Thank you, Chris. The first man, first senator, first major, major politician — let me tell you, he is highly respected in Washington because he is as smart as you get, senator Jeff sessions. Where is Jeff? A great man. Another great man, very tough competitor. He was not easy. He was not easy. Who is that? Is that the mayor that showed up? Is that Rudy?
Up here. Really a friend to me, but I'll tell you, I got to know him as a competitor because he was one of the folks that was negotiating to go against those Democrats, Dr. Ben Carson. Where's been? Where is Ben?
By the way, Mike Huckabee is here someplace, and he is fantastic. Mike and his familiar bring Sarah, thank you very much. Gen. Mike Flynn. Where is Mike? And Gen. Kellogg. We have over 200 generals and admirals that have endorsed our campaign and there are special people. We have 22 congressional medal of honor people.
A very special person who, believe me, I read reports that I wasn't getting along with him. I never had a bad second with him. He's an unbelievable star. He is -- that's right, how did you possibly guess? Let me tell you about Reince. I've said Reince. I know it. I know it. Look at all of those people over there. I know it, Reince is a superstar. I said, they can't call you a superstar, Reince, unless we win it. Like secretariat. He would not have that bust at the track at Belmont.
Reince is really a star and he is the hardest working guy and in a certain way I did this. Reince, come up here. Get over here, Reince.
Boy, oh, boy, oh, boy. It's about time you did this right. My god. Nah, come here. Say something.
[Reince Priebus: Ladies and gentlemen, the next president of the united States, Donald Trump! Thank you. It's been an honor. God bless. Thank God.]
Amazing guy. Our partnership with the RNC was so important to the success and what we've done, so I also have to say, I've gotten to know some incredible people.
The Secret Service people. They're tough and they're smart and they're sharp and I don't want to mess around with them, I can tell ya. And when I want to go and wave to a big group of people and they rip me down and put me back down in the seat, but they are fantastic people so I want to thank the Secret Service.
And law enforcement in New York City, they're here tonight. These are spectacular people, sometimes under appreciated unfortunately, we we appreciate them. So it's been what they call an historic event, but to be really historic, we have to do a great job and I promise you that I will not let you down. We will do a great job. We will do a great job.
I look very much forward to being your president and hopefully at the end of two years or three years or four years or maybe even eight years you will say so many of you worked so hard for us, with you you will say that — you will say that that was something that you were — really were very proud to do and I can — thank you very much.
And I can only say that while the campaign is over, our work on this movement is now really just beginning. We're going to get to work immediately for the American people and we're going to be doing a job that hopefully you will be so proud of your president. You will be so proud. Again, it's my honor.
It's an amazing evening. It's been an amazing two-year period and I love this country. Thank you.
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