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Dublin: 6 °C Tuesday 21 January, 2020

Up all night: How the momentum swung from Hillary to Trump

It was a night of changing emotions – ending with Donald Trump as President.

Emma Finnamore, of Maplewood, New Jersey, left, and Rayah Naji, of Boston, right, react while watching televised election returns during a watch party at Wellesley College.
Emma Finnamore, of Maplewood, New Jersey, left, and Rayah Naji, of Boston, right, react while watching televised election returns during a watch party at Wellesley College.
Image: Steven Senne

IT’S OFFICIAL. DONALD Trump is the most powerful man in the world.

The Republican candidate pulled off a stunning upset of Hillary Clinton in order to take the White House overnight.

However, at 10pm last night it looked like we were gearing up for a second Clinton in the White House.

Early in the night, Clinton looked comfortable, outperforming Barack Obama in some precincts in Georgia and Florida. It seemed, as the polls had predicted, that she was on her way to being the first woman to become US President.

But as the night wore on, Trump built up leads on Florida, Ohio and Virginia, and the mood shifted to signal Trump was not just in the race: he could win.

For many, that feeling was crystallised when Clinton tweeted this around 2am:

The picture looked to be either a rallying cry or a concession, as Clinton’s path to victory had been boxed out by an unprecedented Trump surge.

It was a huge swing in both forecasting and general mood. Early in the evening, Trump’s campaign manager KellyAnne Conway had appeared on a number of television stations and looked deflated. She railed against the lack of support

However, within hours she was posing for photos with her candidate and telling journalists she “felt really good”.

2016 Election Trump Trump supporters react to his win. Source: John Locher

Clinton supporters who had gathered at a glittering reception in New York expecting to hear a victory speech from the pioneering 69-year-old Democrat fell quiet and jabbed nervously at their phones.

“Not great,” retiree Joan Divenuti told AFP. She had come all the way from Massachusetts to cheer her heroine. “Florida was always a problem,” she added, as vote counts put Trump ahead.

Across town at the Trump election party, the 70-year-old property tycoon’s supporters were tense but buoyant.

“This is like a football game. I’m going to have a heart attack,” said 76-year-old Mike Garcia, a Republican from Pennsylvania.

The Republican nominee’s official “victory party” in a Manhattan hotel ballroom started slowly – initially quietly optimistic – but as Trump won state after state, increasingly pumped up and raucous.

The crowd swelled in number, flagging energy levels boosted by alcohol and the avalanche of results that some admitted were far better than they ever imagined with Hillary Clinton the strong favorite.

“It’s unbelievable. I didn’t know Trump was really going to pull it off,” said Glenn Ruti, a 54-year-old New Yorker who works in telecommunications.

States of play

2016 Election Trump Source: John Locher

When early counts came through, even leading in key states, it still looked like Trump was far from victory, the list of states looking too much to surmount.

And then came the declarations: Ohio, North Carolina, Florida. Even the “blue wall” of Michigan and Wisconsin was cracked.

In the end though, it was Pennsylvania – once staunchly Democratic – which put the billionaire businessman over the edge and on the road to the White House.

When it was declared shortly before 7am, Trump edged to 264 electoral college votes, six away from the 270 needed to win.

With that “blue wall” Democrats had built being chipped away, a hammer blow came in Wisconsin that would bring it down and send Trump to Washington DC.

Read: Donald Trump set to be elected President of America

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