Expectations that Trump had a nearly impossible task to win the 270 electoral votes, had been turned on its ear by midnight ET.
Clinton’s hopes of a swift victory faded as the Republican picked up a series of states early on and maintained his momentum.
Weeks of prognosticators putting Clinton’s chances of taking the White House at far better than 50 percent, had obviously set some expectations too high.
Clinton backers were boasting earlier that the race would be called early in the night after polls closed, but CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley had to concede that “If there is anything we can say conclusively about tonight it is ‘uncertainty’.”
As Trump’s strength in unexpected states like Michigan and Pennsylvania became clear, the disbelief in the voices of many anchors could be heard.
The Republican contender’s message, despite the candidate’s polarizing comments about women, Hispanics, Muslims and immigrants, sounded with white Americans, the people Clinton chose to insult as “deplorable”.
Trump’s thoroughly unconventional campaign, defying all odds and virtually every protocol in American politics, is causing “an ideological and electoral revolution that we haven’t seen since Reagan,” a Fox News commentator said.
CBS News’ veteran Charlie Rose was clearly in shock when he addressed a panel of CBS political analysts. He asked them if they had “any idea” that Trump would be as strong as he was when the coverage started just two hours before.
As Trump began winning states, the live analysis shifted from discussing the dynamics in battleground states and swing votes to the inevitable explanations as to how so many polls could have been so far off the mark.
“She’s now where we thought he would be,” Fox News’ Brit Hume announced. And indeed millennial voters angry about the treatment of the Democratic candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders also cost Hillary her first place.
While Clintonites were focusing on their usual “white trash” voter data for Trump, exit poll data showed Clinton faring worse than Obama in 2012 among black men and Hispanic women, according to CBS News.
The Republican surpassed expectations and confounded pollsters in Florida, where Clinton had been expected to win following a surge in the Hispanic vote.
Trump’s stunning victory has sent shockwaves around the world.
In an extraordinary development, Clinton did not initially concede the election, but after a change of heart called Trump to congratulate him on his victory.
He offered generous words for his vanquished opponent, while the crowd respectfully remained silent at the mention of Clinton.
In a conciliatory speech Trump declared: “We will get along with all other nations willing to get along with us. We will deal fairly with everyone. We will seek common ground, partnership not conflict. America will no longer settle for anything less than the best. We must reclaim our destiny.”
He pledged to be “president for all Americans” during his New York victory speech. He said he was “reaching out” to the people who had not supported him to “unify the country”.
“Now it’s time to bind the wounds of division. I say to Democrats and Republicans it is time come together as one united people,” he said.
“I pledge to be president for all Americans,” he said, adding: “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”
He said his was not a campaign but a movement that had won him the White House, comprised of “all people of different backgrounds and beliefs”.
Meanwhile Trump’s strong performance has had a turbulent impact on the markets. Both Nasdaq and S&P futures have hit their five percent down limits, triggering a trade halt.
Intense selling in stock futures sent the S&P 500 into the five percent threshold in the overnight session, and triggered a halt until the next trading day. Dow futures have meanwhile plunged more than 700 points.
The Mexican peso witnessed a nosedive along with the US dollar at the start of trade in Asian markets, the steepest dive in more than 20 years.
Prior to voting, the Mexican peso had strengthened against the American dollar on Tuesday, as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton promised her voters a firm lead against her Republican opponent ahead of the election.
Trump’s threats to rip up a free trade agreement with Mexico and tax money sent home by migrants to pay for building a wall on the southern US border if elected president caused the peso to hit a record low.
Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, described the result as “bigger than Brexit”.
He told The Telegraph that Trump’s election will represent a “massive result” for Britain, and added that the UK would have a “friend in the White House” who will prioritise trade relations with the UK.
The results amounted to a repudiation, not only of Clinton, but of President Obama, whose legacy is suddenly at stake. And it was a decisive demonstration of power from real voters who felt that the promise of the United States had slipped their grasp amid decades of globalization and multiculturalism.
Clinton who had hoped to claim the accolade of becoming the first female US president, also did women no favour. Trump previously remarked that Clinton used the “woman card” to a level he had never seen before.
Eight years after losing to President Obama in the Democratic primary, and 16 years after leaving the White House for the United States Senate, as her husband exited office, she thought she could make a comeback.
Clinton’s shocking loss is a devastating blow for Clinton World, the highly paid aides and strategists.
Bolstered by Trump’s strong performance, Republicans retained control of the Senate. Only one Republican-controlled seat, in Illinois, fell to Democrats early in the evening.
Jitters and unease were visible among international elites, many of which were startled by Trump’s campaign casting doubt on America’s military commitments abroad and its allegiance to international economic partnerships.
His nationalist rallies became the nexus of a political movement, and at his victory party at the New York Hilton Midtown, voters expressed gratification that their voices had, at last, been heard.