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Political outsider Donald J. Trump won the race for the White House in decisive fashion on Tuesday, upsetting polls in several key rust-belt states that had favored his rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
His anti-establishment platform of change drew millions of voters to his side, offsetting damage caused by insults he hurled at Mexicans, Muslims and anyone who dared criticise him, as well as accusations of his sexual abuse and harassment by a number of women.
Driven forward by the overwhelming support of white, less educated male voters and the elderly, he beat back Hillary Clinton’s powerful Democratic machine, which mobilized two presidents, a first lady, and a host of celebrities to try to keep the real estate magnate out of the White House.
As the numbers piled up against her in the few remaining states that were still counting into the early morning, Clinton made a phone call to Trump to concede victory.
On a stage with his family and key campaign staffers, Trump congratulated Clinton for a "very hard-fought campaign" and praised a jubilant crowd of supporters.
Trump sounded a conciliatory tone, far different from his campaign speeches. Refering to his rival as "Secretary Clinton" - no longer "crooked Hillary" as he repeatedly called her on the campaign trial - Trump said "it's now time for America to bind the wounds of division. It's time to come together as one united people."
The president-elect promised to rebuild the country, double economic growth and "start the urgent business of renewing the American Dream."
Other countries need have no fear, he added. "We will get along wioth all other nations willing to get along with us ... We will deal fairly with everyone."
Just minutes before Trump took the stage, Clinton sent out her campaign chief John Podesta to address supporters in New York to say they would have to wait until the morning for her to speak publicly.
"Your voices and your enthusiasm mean so much to her," he said. "We are so proud of her. She has done an amazing job and she is not done yet."
Earlier in the evening, in a hint perhaps that she feared her bid to become the nation's first woman president was in peril, Clinton tweeted: "This team has so much to be proud of. Whatever happens tonight, thank you for everything."
Trump's victory began to move from long-shot to certainty after he clinched Florida around midnight. Over the next two hours one state after another swung his way, including North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvannia, where Clinton had been strongly favored.
At the same time The Republican majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives will alleviate the legislative blockade of the Capitol and allow the new president to push forward his proposals and fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court with a conservative judge.
His promise to build a wall and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants will have an impact on millions of families.
Latino voters supported Clinton by a historically lopsided 79-18 percent margin nationwide, according to an election eve poll by Latino Decisions. By comparison, President Barack Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney by a 75-23 percent margin. However, another poll by New Latino Voice found a smaller margin of only 25 points.
His intention to renegotiate trade agreements, abolish Obama's signature healthcare law, isolationist rhetoric and lack of government experience leaves a very uncertain landscape.
The Dow futures was down 700 points as the dollar plunged and frightened Wall Street investors. Upon news of Trump's inevitable win, sovereign bonds, the Japanese yen and gold surged while the Mexican peso went into near free-fall in chaotic trading, Reuters reported.
“Markets are reacting as though the four horsemen of the apocalypse just rode out of Trump Tower," said Sean Callow, one market strategist in Australia.
The bombastic, 70-year-old New York real estate magnate will be the first candidate since 1952 to make it to the White House without being previously elected to public office.
Politicians, historians and journalists scoffed at Trump when he launched his run to the White House in June 2015. He criticized others so much that many thought he would have no chance. But his populist message and profile as a successful entrepreneur attracted the attention of millions of uneducated white voters who perceived him as an outsider called to end the paralysis and corruption in Washington. In the end, voters were not turned off by his lack of knowledge about the economy or foreign policy.
Trump beat 16 opponents during the primaries, exploited his adversary's legal problems and overcame a number of scandals that shook his campaign.