Recap of the 2016 Presidential Election
On Nov. 8, 2016, millions of Americans flocked to their polling places to cast their votes for presidential candidates. This year, the United States’ presidential hopefuls were Hillary Clinton, the first female to ever be nominated by a major political party and business mogul Donald Trump, a political outsider who inspired a movement within the Republican Party unlike any in recent history.
The results of the election began rolling in after the first polls closed at 7 p.m. EST. Trump gained an early lead with wins in Kentucky and Indiana. Clinton countered with wins in Vermont, Virginia, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Maine and Maryland by 8 p.m. EST, bringing the electoral vote count to 41-37, with Trump winning Oklahoma, West Virginia and Mississippi.
However, Clinton’s lead didn’t last long – races in the majority of states were incredibly close, some wins coming down to a few thousand votes; and as more states reported their results, Trump’s lead widened over Clinton. Although she was able to hold on to wins in many states that historically have voted Democrat, unpredicted losses in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin ultimately gave Trump enough electoral votes to win the presidency and become the 45th president of the United States. The final electoral count ended with 290 votes for Trump and 228 for Clinton.
When it became clear that Trump would become the next president of the United States, he addressed his followers in a victory speech shortly after 3 a.m.
“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 families,” said Trump during his victory speech. “Working together, we will begin the urgent task of rebuilding our nation and renewing the American Dream.”
Clinton did not comment on the results of the election the night of, but offered a concession speech the following morning. Clinton urged her supporters to give Trump a chance to lead the United States, saying that it was time to come together to move the country forward.
“We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought,” she said. “But I still believe in America and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”
In the days following the election, it became apparent that demographics played a huge role in Trump’s victory. According to NPR’s analysis of the election, approximately 70 percent of the people who voted were white, and of that 70 percent, the majority were working-class men. This boost of support from white working-class males enabled Trump to win the presidency over Clinton.
Additionally, the Pew Research Center reported that on average that Clinton’s supporters were females and minorities between the ages of 18 and 44, while the majority of Trump supporters were white males age 45 and older. Exit polls also showed that 53 percent of white women, a group that many media outlets and campaign strategists were sure Clinton would win, ultimately voted for Trump. This surprise resulted in the loss of a crucial number of votes for Clinton.
In addition to demographics, one of the key elements that affected this year’s election results was the number of eligible voters who cast their ballot on Election Day. According to exit polls, approximately 57 percent of eligible voters in the United States did not vote in this year’s election. This number is down from 58.6 percent in 2012 and 61.6 percent in 2008, when President Barack Obama was running for office. This can largely be attributed to a feeling of voter apathy, which has been present throughout this campaign season. Many voters expressed this by choosing not to vote for either candidate; in Michigan alone, it was reported that more than 110,000 voters did not vote for either candidate, but cast votes for other officials on the ticket.
Because of these factors and many others, Trump will take the oath of office in Washington D.C. on Jan. 20, 2017. In the months to come, the United States will learn what kind of president Trump will be. Many are hoping to see him boost the economy, lower taxes, tighten restrictions on immigration and take on foreign powers, in a way that the presidents who came before him did not. Others fear outbreaks of hate and discrimination as a result of his campaign. If nothing else, Trump’s journey to the presidency has stirred what some media outlets have called a “silent majority” and has changed the way that many will view politics in future elections. Ultimately, it will take some time to see what the effects of this year’s election will have on the United States, as well as the rest of the world.
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