DONALD TRUMP WINS THE PRESIDENCY, DELIVERS GRACIOUS VICTORY SPEECH
His success was only part of a larger, crushing victory for the Republican Party, which retained the House and maintained control of the Senate.
The brash New York businessman will win at least 270 electoral votes, according to NBC News projections, and will take his Republican ticket to the White House in January. Trump had trailed Democrat Hillary Clinton in polling averages for nearly the entire election cycle, but he bucked prognostications by picking up states many pundits deemed out of his reach.
On Twitter, the president-elect called his win "beautiful and important," while the White House issued a statement that President Obama plans to publicly address the election results, and invite Trump to the White House on Thursday to discuss handing over power.
"Ensuring a smooth transition of power is one of the top priorities the President identified at the beginning of the year and a meeting with the President-elect is the next step," the White House statement read.
The 70-year-old real estate mogul — who is now the oldest person ever elected to a first presidential term — declared victory early Wednesday, saying Clinton had conceded the election and that it's time for the nation "to come together as one united people."
The Republican congratulated his Democratic rival, saying that she waged "a very very hard-fought campaign." He also commended her for having "worked very long and very hard" over her political career.
"Now it's time for America to bind the wounds of division — have to get together," he said. "To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people."
Trump, who had been criticized by opponents for rhetoric characterized as divisive and racist, pledged, "I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me."
Trump has never before held public office, but he will be joined in the executive branch by Vice President-elect Mike Pence and a host of politicians and business executives who rallied around the GOP nominee.
Although the vast majority of pre-election surveys had indicated a slight advantage for Clinton, Trump's campaign had frequently predicted that a vein of electoral strength existed beyond the polls, pointing to his massive crowds at his events and online support.
Clinton — who was secretary of state under President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator for New York from 2001 to 2009, and first lady during her husband's presidency in the 1990s — had been painted as the "establishment" politician, while Trump campaigned as a political neophyte who could "drain the swamp" of government corruption in Washington.
Trump will likely face significant Democratic attempts at opposition after he enters the White House in January. In fact, Trump has elicited strong outcries from liberal and minority groups since he first characterized many Mexican immigrants "rapists" in his June 2015 campaign kickoff.
Trump rose to prominence in a crowded GOP primary field by connecting with voters who felt they had been betrayed by Washington interests. The businessman focused his early pitch on forceful answers to economic issues like trade and immigration, which resonated with those Americans who had stopped believing mainstream Republicans cared about their communities.
Many experts in economics and policy studies have decried Trump's prescriptions as nearly impossible to implement and unlikely to achieve their desired aims. But supporters, and Trump himself, have contended that his calls for extreme tariffs and mass deportations were opening salvos in forthcoming negotiations.
And Trump, who has been famous for decades as a symbol of wealth and business acumen, channeled the image of a negotiator throughout his campaign. The real estate developer — who co-authored "Trump: The Art of the Deal" — has repeatedly claimed that other countries are taking advantage of the United States, and the White House should work to renegotiate its existing agreements.
Clinton, meanwhile, had campaigned on a set of policy proposals made more liberal for her primary contest against Sen. Bernie Sanders. While Republicans painted Clinton as too liberal — an extension of Obama's tenure — many on the left expressed discomfort with the former secretary of state, jeering that she was more aligned with right-of-center candidates.
Yet for all of those criticisms, Clinton had appeared ahead in the race, especially after her well-received debate performances. But that lead became more tenuous when the FBI announced just 11 days before the election that it was probing new evidence regarding her use of a private email server while secretary of state. The FBI subsequently said the new probe did not turn up any reason to charge Clinton with a crime, but Democrats, and even some Trump supporters, called foul on the timing of the original announcement: Clinton's campaign was damaged as voters were reminded of a scandal that had faded from the forefront.
Trump also faced several challenges on his road to the White House, including allegations that he sexually assaulted or harassed multiple women, and several women making such claims came forward after the release of a 2005 video in which he bragged about groping women.
Still, Tuesday's election results are a strong repudiation of the entire system of Washington politics, not just the Democrats or Clinton. A long list of Republican leaders and luminaries had come out against Trump, or at least refused to endorse their party's new, de-facto head.
The Trump victory also marks a rejection of the mainstream news media, which extensively covered Trump's scandals and self-contradictions. Polls showed many of the Republican's supporters dismissed those reports.
As recently as last week, in fact, pundits on both sides suggested that Trump was not angling to win the election — he was instead interested, they said, in establishing a base of support for profitable post-race enterprises. But after an acrimonious election, Trump will now turn to building a team that can work together to implement his ideas for the country.