Tuesday evening, expectations were shattered, but not a glass ceiling.
Donald Trump’s meteoric rise to success crashed through political America’s predictions Tuesday night as a stunning culmination of a campaign that bucked expectations and conventions every step of the way.
While Hillary Clinton was favored to handily take the election, Democrats grew anxious as the night carried on. Clinton began the night with over an 80 percent chance of winning, according to projections from the New York Times. But things quickly turned sour for her as Trump’s chances closed in just before 8:30 p.m. EST, quickly taking the lead as they grew to greater than 95 percent.
When Donald Trump, a 70-year-old celebrity businessman, announced his run for presidency last summer, many laughed at the thought of a non-politican running for office. However, his early rise in the primaries over more traditional candidates paved the way for his run against Hillary Clinton, who was largely considered the most experienced and qualified candidate for the job.
Throughout the election cycle, Trump repeatedly broke conventions that could have easily derailed any other candidate’s election. He repeatedly lied, whether covertly or blatantly. He insulted so many that it took two pages of the New York Times to list them all, including Republican party leaders.
And yet Tuesday night he easily garnered the 270 electoral college votes necessary to take the presidency, taking key swing states like Ohio and Florida, and even nabbing four states swung toward Obama in 2012. At current standings, Clinton leads the popular vote.
Clinton’s expected win relied on her so-called “blue wall” in the Rust Belt: states like Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. But Trump breached that wall after heavily campaigning in the area in the weeks before the election, nabbing the votes of Wisconsin and Michigan, which Clinton had been counting on. She had been so sure, Clinton hadn’t visited Wisconsin since the general election kicked off.
Reporters got “radio silence” from Clinton’s camp as the evening progressed and the campaign’s future grew dim, with campaign chairman John Podesta telling supporters that Clinton would not concede the election until Wednesday morning.
Students watching coverage on and around campus were stunned by the upset.
“I just need a drink because it’s over,” said junior Elizabeth Orschlean from Barley House.
“I guess it just shows people’s frustration,” said Kenneth Day, an attendee of the Dallas Democrats watch party. “They want to see something different; change. The last few elections you hear a lot of candidates talk about change, change, change and maybe people see [Trump] as a change.”
Donald Trump managed to tap into an electorate that America hadn’t seen previously: voters who felt anxious, disillusioned and disgruntled at what they thought was a corrupt establishment, and were willing to take risks to make change. Trump repeatedly called Clinton “Crooked Hillary,” making her out to be the ultimate Washington insider. He hinted that if he lost, he may not concede, calling the system “rigged.”
While many voted for Trump, not all think he has the temperament to serve. According to an NBC News exit poll, 64 percent said Trump did not have the temperament to serve while 59 percent said Clinton was not honest and trustworthy.
After heading such a divisive campaign, Trump sounded reconciliatory as he declared victory around 3 a.m. EST.
“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,” he said after Clinton called him to concede.
“Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division.”
In her concession speech Wednesday afternoon, Hillary Clinton said, “I know how disappointed you feel because I feel it too, and so do tens of millions of Americans who invested their hopes and dreams in this effort. This is painful and it will be for a long time, but I want you to remember this: Our campaign was never about one person or even one election, it was about the country we love and about building an America that’s hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted.”
“We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America, and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”
With Trump taking his position as the 45th president and Republicans maintaining their grip on Congress, the GOP will be the strongest it has been in recent years. The likely nomination of a conservative justice to the Supreme Court will only further that strength.
Trump has vowed that after he is inaugurated Jan. 20 he will eradicate a number of President Obama’s trademark policies, such as the Affordable Care Act and the Iran nuclear deal. He plans to alter both the domestic and international landscape drastically.
Domestically, Trump has pledged to overturn Roe v. Wade and ban immigration of Muslims or those from countries “compromised by terrorism.” His vice president pick, former Indiana governor Mike Pence, is known for his hardline conservative policies including banning abortions of disabled fetuses, protecting business owners who don’t want to serve gay customers under a religious freedom bill, and supporting gay conversion therapy.
Regarding international relations, Trump has drawn the ire of a number of countries including Mexico, China and Canada. Trump led his campaign with the promise of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, entirely paid for by Mexico. He has pushed for renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement and trade deals with China.
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Trump’s win Wednesday afternoon, after Donald Trump praised Putin as a strong leader throughout the campaign. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Trump “a true friend,” vowing to work together.
Some Trump supporters were also shocked and overwhelmed while watching the results come in Tuesday night. “It’s a great feeling to be surrounded by people with the same values as you and who are just as excited about this election,” said (name removed at source’s request), a Dallas County GOP watch party attendee.
SMU journalism students Katie Butler, Nate Williams and Emory Parsons contributed to this story.