Donald Trump wins the presidency in stunning upset over Clinton

Donald Trump and Mike Pence in New York on Nov. 9. : Washington Post photo by Ricky Carioti

Donald John Trump has been projected as the winner of the presidential election, according to The Associated Press, after election returns showed that Trump had won stunning come-from-behind victories across a swath of contested states.

Trump, 70, will be the 45th president of the United States. A real-estate developer and former reality-TV star, Trump is the first person to win the presidency without having previously held public office or served in the U.S. military.

Mike Pence, 57, will be vice president. Pence was a longtime member of the House of Representatives and is now the Republican governor of Indiana.

Trump’s victory could produce significant repercussions, both economic and political. Stock markets had risen in recent days, believing that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would win. On Tuesday evening, as Trump reeled off a string of unexpected victories across the Midwest, futures market nosedived — likely anticipating global upheaval as Trump tries to follow through on aggressive campaign promises: to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, to impose tougher trading conditions on China, and to force U.S. manufacturers not to move operations overseas.

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At Trump’s party, supporters hugged each other, waved Trump signs over their heads and erupted in cheers after the race was officially called.

“Donald! Donald!” they chanted.

In political terms, Trump’s win will likely hands Republicans control of both the executive and legislative branches of government.

That could lead to long-sought GOP dreams coming true, like the repeal of “Obamacare” and the end of regulations limiting greenhouse-gas emissions. But it could also lead to Republican infighting, since Trump’s policy ideas – including more friendliness toward Russia, and protectionist trade positions – are starkly at odds with what other many Republicans believe.

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His victory on Tuesday was the biggest surprise of the modern presidential era – a shocking upset, at a time when mass communication and zealous polling sought to make such surprises less likely.

Trump had entered Election Day trailing Clinton in a slew of national and swing-state polls, and with a get-out-the-vote operation far smaller than hers. He had fared poorly in all three debates.

But Trump was helped by an odd confluence of outside forces.

The website WikiLeaks had been releasing thousands of emails stolen from Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta – a massive hack that the U.S. government blamed on Russia.

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Then, in the campaign’s late stages, Trump got help from the combination of Anthony Weiner – the former congressman, married to Clinton aide Huma Abedin – and FBI Director James Comey.

After FBI agents seized a laptop used by Weiner in an investigation into lewd text messages that Weiner allegedly sent to a 15 year-old girl. In late October, Comey announced that the FBI was examining other emails found on the laptop, which might have been pertinent to a previous investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server for government business.

Nine days later, Comey announced that the review had found nothing that changed the bureau’s past investigation. But the damage had been done, as voters were reminded of Clinton’s email scandal.

On Tuesday, Trump won, based on very strong turnout in rural areas, and among white voters.

That victory was the last, and most incredible, in a series of unexpected victories for Trump since he rode down a Trump Tower escalator last June to launch his presidential bid. He defeated 16 other Republicans in the primary process, and then beat the better-funded and better-organized Clinton by relying on huge rallies, free TV exposure, and the electorate’s hunger for change.

Clinton, the former first lady and secretary of state, had been the de facto Democratic nominee for the entire campaign. She was hampered, in its final hours, by lower-than-expected enthusiasm among young voters, and lower turnout in urban areas.

Clinton’s campaign team had felt buoyant coming into Tuesday, after a massive rally Monday night in Philadelphia that featured President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and Bruce Springsteen.

But Clinton’s bid to be the first female president ended in disappointment.

Shortly after 2 am, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta addressed her remaining supporters at Javits Center in New York, announcing that the candidate would not be speaking because some states remained too close to call. He urged those gathered to go home and get some sleep.

“We can wait a little longer, can’t we?” Podesta asked a cheering crowd. “We’re still counting votes, and every vote should count.

He thanked Clinton’s supporters, saying, “your voices and your enthusiasm mean so much to her.”

Anne Gearan, Abby Phillip and Sean Sullivan in New York; Scott Clement, Robert Costa, Juliet Eilperin, T. Rees Shapiro and Brian Murphy in Washington; David Weigel in Philadelphia; Laura Vozzella in Richmond; Antonio Olivo in Manassas, Va.; Katie Zezima in Utah; and Kelsey Snell in Janesville, Wis., contributed to this report.