The triumph of Trump: read the SCMP’s live coverage of how an electoral revolution unfolded

In victory speech after astounding win, US President-elect Trump says of defeated opponent Hillary Clinton: ‘We owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 6:59am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 November, 2016, 12:06pm

Welcome to the South China Morning Post’s rolling coverage of election night in the United States, after the most divisive - and sometimes bizarre - presidential campaign in memory.

By now, most readers will be aware of how our coverage culminated: with Republican Donald Trump’s astonishing victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. In the process, the billionaire businessman - who has held no elected office - upended the US electoral map, demolished conventional wisdom and confounded pollsters and critics alike.

Read on to see how this historic event unfolded. And thanks to all who tuned in for our live commentary, which has now wrapped up.

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4.05pm: Trump closes his speech with “I love this country”, then, almost as an afterthought, “Oh, and thank you to Mike Pence.” Trump had earlier thanked supporters including Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie, among others.

3.55pm: “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” says Trump

3.53pm: Conciliatory words from Trump. On Clinton: “We owe her a major debt of gratitude to her for her service to our country... It’s time to bind the wounds of division. It’s time for us to come together as one united people.I pledge to every citizen of our land, I will be president for all Americans.

3.50pm: Trump says he has received concession call from Clinton. “She congratulated us...I congratulated her on a very hard fought campaign.”

3.48pm: Trump takes the stage as US President-elect.

The race for 270

Presidential results, state by state

3.45pm: Vice-President-elect Mike Pence takes the stage at Trump campaign party in the New York Hilton Hotel. Trump is reportedly preparing to speak. Says Pence: “This is an historic night. The American people have spoken and the American people have elected their new champion.”

3.43pm: This live video feed will cross to Donald Trump’s expected victory speech as soon as it becomes available.

3.40pm: CNN REPORTS THAT HILLARY CLINTON HAS CALLED DONALD TRUMP TO CONCEDE.

3.33pm: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS AND WASHINGTON POST HAVE DECLARED THAT DONALD TRUMP HAS WON THE US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

3.30pm: CNN shows that Donald Trump has arrived at campaign headquarters.

3.18pm: Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief Jake Podesta says she will not speak tonight, because the race remains “too close to call” in several states.

“They’re still counting votes - every vote should count. Several states are too close to call. So we’re not going to have anything more to say tonight,” Podesta said in New York. Podesta said Clinton had “done an amazing job, and she is not done yet.”

2.41pm: AP has declared Trump the winner in Pennsylvania, claiming it’s 20 electoral votes. That would leave him just five votes short of victory. Separately, CNN has granted Alaska’s three votes to Trump. Two votes needed.

2.23pm. Pennsylvania looks like a lock for Trump: He’s leading there by one percentage point. Not much, but with only 1.5 per cent of the vote to count, almost impossible to make up for Clinton. If Trump wins here it’s good night.

2.09pm. Josh Ye in Hong Kong reports: At the AmCham election-viewing party at Pacific Place, Tariq Dennison, the secretary of Republicans Overseas Hong Kong, admitted to being “a bit surprised” by Trump’s stunning performance. “In the past two years, including with Brexit, the polls have been kind of off,” he said. “The fact that the futures dropped by 5 per cent shows that the market wasn’t expecting it.”

He said the big worry of a Trump presidency would be “if he is going to start a trade war and if he is going to block a lot of things coming in from China, which go through Hong Kong and affect businesses in Hong Kong”.

Despite being a Republican himself, Dennison said many American expats would feel “lots of shock and disappointment” at a Trump victory. He said Americans expats might have underestimated “the sense of despair” many voters in the American suburbs have been feeling.

“Americans here [in Hong Kong] are a select group,” he said, “We don’t see every day how people in Alabama live. We don’t see the way that people in a small town in Iowa live.”

1.54pm. If Trump wins Michigan, Pennsylvania or New Hampshire it’s over: Okay, time to take a deep breath and look at where we stand, and what it will take for Trump to win. It’s not much. He now has 245 electoral college votes in the bag. He needs another 25 to win. Trump can quite safely count on Alaska’s three votes, Arizona’s 11 votes (he leads there by four points with 69 per cent of votes counted) and Wisconsin’s 10 votes (he leads by 3.4 per cent with 90 per cent counted). One vote short. That means Clinton needs to win every other state. She’s got a comfortable four-point lead in Minnesota, and a three-point lead in Maine. But in Michigan she’s behind by 1.1 points with 80 per cent counted. She’s behind by 0.6 percentage points in Pennsylvania, where more than 97 per cent of the votes are counted. New Hampshire is a virtual dead heat with 84 per cent counted. If she loses any of these three states, she’s toast.

1.30pm: It’s crazy close in New Hampshire. Clinton leads by just 18 votes, 274,747 to 247,729. At this stage of the evening, even the paltry four electoral college votes here feel like must-wins for Clinton.

1.27pm: PBS and Politico are already calling Nevada for Clinton, with only 35 per cent counted. That's six electoral college votes.

1.17pm: Everyone’s focussed on the race for the White House, but control of the Senate is also up for grabs. Reuters reports that there have been 27 out of 34 results called by major TV networks, including one pickup by the Democrats in Illinois. But the Republicans are overwhelmingly likely now to retain control of the Senate.

1.10pm: Trump has edged ahead of Clinton in Pennsylvania, with 90 per cent of the vote counted, CNN reports. If Trump wins here, it’s virtually game over for Clinton.

1.04pm: There are nine states still in play. Alaska can safely be added to Trump’s basket. Maine (Clinton leads by 4 points with 61 per cent counted), New Hampshire (Trump leads by 2 points with 71 per cent counted), Pennsylvania (Clinton leads by one point with 81 per cent counted), Michigan (Trump leads by 1.6 per cent with 67 per cent counted), Wisconsin (Trump leads by four points with 81 per cent counted), Minnesota (Clinton leads by seven points with 65 per cent counted), Arizona (Trump leads by four points with 56 per cent counted), and Nevada (Clinton leads by five points with 18 per cent counted).

1.00pm. Wendy Wu in Beijing reports: Gold prices continued to climb and the US dollar index kept falling as Trump edge closer to victory. The dollar index fell to 96.15. The benchmark gold futures traded in the New York Gold Exchange rose above US$1320 per ounce, up 3.8 per cent from Tuesday’s close.

12.49pm: CNN’s Anderson Cooper quizzes Democratic pundit David Axelrod.

“What did everyone get wrong?”

“Just the numbers.”

12.36pm: Trump comfortably wins Iowa, 51.5 per cent to 43.5 per cent (with 55 per cent of votes counted). Not an unexpected victory here, but it’s worth noting that Barack Obama won here easily in 2012, by a six-point margin over Mitt Romney. A complete turnaround in the American heartland.

12.01pm: California has closed its polls. Those 55 electoral college votes, which can confidently be added to Clinton’s tally, will be much appreciated by her camp. She’s also predicted to pick up Hawaii’s four votes.

11.50am: Donald Trump has won Florida and its 29 electoral seats. A yuuuuge win. With 99 per cent of the vote counted, Trump won 49.2 per cent of the vote to Clinton’s 47.7 per cent.

11.48am: The closely watched FiveThirtyEight stats blog of mathematician Nate Silver currently still has Clinton slightly favoured to win, albeit by a squeaker.

11.45am. Cathy Zhang reports: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plunged more than 800 points, or 3.5 per cent, to 22,104.44 around 11.30am, after signs showed that US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is taking a lead in some of the key states. Full story here.

11.39am: Clinton wins Virginia, CNN reports. Those 13 electoral votes are much needed by the Democrat. She lags Trump 167 to 122 in the electoral college, according to CNN.

11.37am: This does NOT look like the Tweet of a candidate brimming with confidence.

12.25pm: The number-crunchers at FiveThirtyEight now make Trump the clear favourite to win the presidency, 58 per cent to 40 per cent.

12.22pm. Laura Zhou in Beijing reports: In his speech to the audience at the US Presidential Election Watch at the embassy in Beijing, Max Baucus, the US ambassador to China, began by recalling the Churchill’s famous dictum: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

“Democracy isn’t perfect,” said the ambassador, “but democracy and the right to elect representatives are still the greatest freedom on the earth.”

Shawn Zhang and Melody Chang, both university students in Beijing, said that they wanted to learn more about American politics as both plan to have their further education in the US.

“Election decides politicians, and politicians decide policies, including those concerning foreign students,” said Zhang, “as we want to study in the US in the future, this election is important to us too.”

Both favour Hillary Clinton. “Perhaps it is because she is a woman and defends for women’s rights, and Trump has said something insulting to women,” said Chang.

12.10pm: North Carolina goes to Trump. Fifteen seats there. With Florida also now in Trump’s bag, the race could hinge on Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. Clinton probably has to win all three. She’s ahead by 49.4 per cent to 47.1 per cent in Pennsylvania with 81 per cent counted. But she is behind in Michigan (48.3 per cent to 46.6 per cent with 52 per cent of all votes counted) and in Wisconsin (where she lags 49.2 per cent to 48.7 per cent with 62 per cent counted). Yes, there's a way to go with those counts. But to emphasise the point: she probably needs to win all three states.

In Wisconsin in particular, FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten says “Clinton is in big trouble... If Trump wins here, Clinton is in big trouble nationally.”

11.30am Stocks are falling sharply on the possibility of President Trump: Markets went into free fall Wednesday and the Mexican peso hit a record low as Donald Trump appeared to be moving into the lead in the race for the White House, AFP reports.

Safe haven assets rallied as investors went running for cover, with the yen and gold rushing higher.

Initial confidence that market favourite Hillary Clinton would win the knife-edge race was wiped out as results showed the firebrand tycoon appeared to be heading for victory in the key state of Florida.

Clinton is considered by many investors to be a safer bet than Trump, who is seen as a loose cannon with policies many fear could wreck the world’s top economy.

“Put your seat belts on because this is going to be a bumpy ride,” Chad Morganlander, a money manager at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. in Florham Park, New Jersey told Bloomberg News.“Investors will be moving in a chaotic fashion to get ahead of the information flow.”

Tokyo ended the morning session 2.2 per cent down, having been up more than one per cent at one point, while Hong fell 2.3 per cent and Shanghai sank 0.7 per cent.

Sydney gave up 2.4 per cent, Seoul shed 2.8 per cent and Singapore dived 1.4 per cent. Wellington plunged two per cent while there were also losses of more than one per cent for Taipei and Jakarta.

Futures on the Dow on Wall Street plunged 2.6 per cent.

11.28am: CNN says Trump wins Ohio and its 18 electoral votes. He now leads 167 to 109, in the race to 270 electoral votes. That's a massive win for Trump

11.20am: These two pictures are telling the story of the night so far. It’s not hard to guess whose supporters are which.

11.15am. GOP will retain House majority, by slimmer margin: Republicans were on track to keep control of the US House, though likely with a smaller majority, giving the party the power to either block Hillary Clinton’s legislative agenda or boost Donald Trump’s platform, depending on who’s elected president, Bloomberg reports.

With additional races to be decided, Democrats were on course for a net pickup of a handful of House seats, denting Republicans’ 60-seat advantage, but well short of the more dramatic gains Democratic leaders had once hoped for. The GOP currently controls the House 246-186, with three vacancies.

Two Republican incumbents in Florida were ousted, including former House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica and David Jolly, who was defeated by party-switching former Governor Charlie Crist.

Republicans did register a pickup in an open race for a Florida seat now held by a Democrat, Patrick Murphy, who was defeated in a Senate bid against Senator Marco Rubio. Murphy’s House seat was won by Brian Mast, a military veteran who lost both legs in Afghanistan.

Other contests for seats now held by Republicans were still too close or too early to call, including those in California, Indiana and Kansas.

11.10am. Catherine Wong in New York tweets:

11.02am Update from key states: Trump’s path to the presidency is very much alive, and he is leading the nationwide popular vote by about a million. In crucial Florida, Trump is leading 49.1 per cent to 47.8 per cent with only 5 per cent of the vote uncounted. That will be very difficult for Clinton to overtake, and it would represent a huge step towards the White House for Trump. In North Carolina, Trump is also leading, 50.1 per cent to 47.3 per cent with two-thirds of the vote counted. And in New Hampshire, Trump leads 48.2 per cent to 46.6 per cent with about 40 per cent of the vote counted.

10.59am Sarah Zheng reports: Hong Kong stocks have dropped to their lowest level in intraday trading since August, amid the looming prospect of a Trump presidency. Full report here.

10.54am. US dollar plunges: The US dollar tumbled versus the yen as results from critical battleground states Florida, North Carolina and Ohio showed Democrat Hillary Clinton trailing Republican Donald Trump in the race for the US presidency.

The dollar fell as much as 2 per cent to 103.04 yen as of 9.16pm in New York (10.16am HK time), the biggest intraday decline since July.

10.53am. Catherine Wong in New York tweets:

10.40am. Wendy Wu in Beijing reports: The US dollar index dropped below 97 as the market investors are anxious about the nail-biter voting in Florida. The index, which measures the greenback against other six major currencies including euro, sterling and the Japanese yen, fell to 96.8 versus the reading above 98 one hour before.

10.35am. Josh Ye in Hong Kong reports: At the AmCham election-viewing party at Pacific Place, a group of women voters are feeling anxious about how the election is currently going.

Julie Naughton, a Democrat from Connecticut, said the tally out of Florida and North Carolina is “nerve-racking”. “I’m excited that we might have a women president”, she said, “I was confident [before the election]. But now I am not sure if Hillary will win.”

She said that the lack of Republican presence at such viewing parties can be deceptive - many Republicans are financial professionals who are at work, she guessed.

“Seeing support for Hillary is one thing,” she said, “But you don’t know how people actually vote.”

Jane Ma from California said the Republican and Democrat presence in Hong Kong was about the same. “During the 2012 election viewing party, there were actually many Republicans. They later got so upset by the results and they retreated to their own corner of the room,” she said.

Alex Montgomery, a director of Democrats Abroad Hong Kong said he figured there were actually more Republicans in Hong Kong than most other cities outside the US because it is a financial hub.”

10.27am: Time for a big picture update. Keep your eyes on Florida, the knife-edge race that is starting to scare Asian stick markets. That’s because Donald Trump now holds a 1.5 percentage point lead, with less than 8 per cent of the total vote yet to be tallied. If he hangs on, it’s a huge step towards the presidency. CNN now gives Trump a lead in the electoral college race, of 128 to 97.

10.22am. Trump’s Florida lead spooks markets, AFP reports: Asian equities reversed early gains in volatile trade Wednesday as early results from the US presidential election indicated a knife-edge result, with market favourite Clinton now lagging in key battleground Florida.

Investors across the planet have grown increasingly confident the former secretary of state will win the vote over Trump.

But as the votes in Florida came in, Trump was building a healthy lead. The state is considered crucial if he is to take the White House. He leads 49.2 per cent to 47.6 per cent with more than 90 per cent of the vote counted.

Early confidence across trading floors was wiped out as investors consider the prospect of a win for the real estate mogul.

10.15am: SCMP photographer Simon Song is watching the results come in with American expats and others at the Bridge Cafe in Beijing

10.10am: A raft of traditional red states are being called for Trump. North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, and the big prize, Texas. Clinton meanwhile wins New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. CNN now has Clinton on 97 electoral votes and Trump on 84.

10am. Laura Zhou in Beijing reports: Several hundred invited members of the public, both mainlanders and expats, are watching the election results come in at the US Embassy in Beijing this morning.

US Ambassador to China Max Baucus said the US-China relationship would “continue this way as it is now and it has to be” no matter who is elected.

He said the both governments would continue to work together on a wide range of issues including climate change and denuclearization in North Korea, as well as trade deals.

“The issues are the same, the good faith is the same, and no matter who wins, he or she would have to address these issues.”

9.56am: Republicans are set to retain their House of Representatives majority, US networks are reporting.

9.55am: The SCMP’s Catherine Wong is with Team Clinton in Manhattan.

9.48am: The lead in Florida has swung back in Trump’s favour. He now leads by 49.1 to 47.9 per cent, a lead of about 100,000 votes with 91 per cent of the vote counted.

9.45am. Liu Zhen in Flushing, New York, reports: At the Taiwan Centre in Flushing, New York’s major Chinatown, interpreters of Chinese, Korean and Spanish were in place to help the largely diverse locals to cast their ballots into the night.

Pao Wang, who immigrated from Taiwan to the US with his wife more than 30 years ago, said they have voted in every US election.

“We have experienced a lot and realised the importance of voting. Voting might work very slowly but is at least an opportunity,” said Wang. But his year’s election felt different, with many in the Chinese American community aware and proactive, he said.

Alex Donahue, who was born in South Korea and raised in an American family

went to both Republican, Democratic and other parties’ rallies, and spent a lot of time analysing each candidate and their policy platforms.

“I don’t like the corruption. I don’t like stupid candidates and I don’t like the campaigns that exaggerate personal problems but overlook the actual social and policy problems,” the 29-year-old who once served in the US Air Force said. He voted Democratic in the senate but voted for Trump as president.

While the voting was still ongoing, a group of Putonghua-speaking women came in - then walked out in disappointment, having been unaware their community social activity venue was being used as a voting site.

9.31am. Stuart Lau in Cleveland, Ohio, reports: At an election-night party at Cuyahoga county in Cleveland, Republican supporters looked cautious as they watched the results come in on Fox News.

“I’m nervous because Trump may lose,” said Judy Ladaika, 60.

Her husband, Mike, said a win for Clinton would mean two more Supreme Court justices “who make, rather than interpret, the law”.

Around 100 Trump supporters had gathered for a buffet dinner at a restaurant at the downtown fringe. People cheered positive news for the Republican Party on state-level elections. But there was little cheering as the presidential results favouring Clinton trickled in.

9.15am: By many estimations, North Carolina is crucial if Donald Trump is to maintain a viable path to 270 electoral votes and the presidency. Clinton currently leads 51.8 per cent to 45.7 per cent.

9.05am: Clinton leads the electoral college race, 68 to 48, according to CNN. Remember: 270 votes are needed for victory.

9am: Some promising signs for Clinton in key battleground states. In Florida, she leads by 49 per cent to Trump’s 18 per cent, a lead of about 50,000 votes, with 77 per cent of the total vote counted. Too soon to call though. In Ohio, Clinton is opening up a significant lead, 52.8 per cent to 43.5 per cent. It will be very tough She also wins Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware and the District Of Columbia. Trump wins Oklahoma, Tennessee and Mississippi.

8.45am Josh Ye in Hong Kong reports: An American Chamber of Commerce breakfast election-viewing party at Pacific Place is in full swing, with a couple of hundred attendees.

Jessica Chan, a senior project manager from New York, said American expats in Hong Kong tend to be Democrats.“About 80 per cent of [the people in the room] are Democrats,” she said, “It’s expected. People who are business professionals and highly educated tend to lean Democrat.”

She said Trump’s support isn’t very strong in the Hong Kong business world because he represents a “protectionist, anti-establishment and anti-immigrant” stance.

Chan said that Trump supporters nevertheless made their presence felt. “We have noticed this culture among Trump supporters. They are quite adamant in being vocal about their political stance,” she said.

8.35am: Trump wins West Virginia, adding five electoral votes to his bag. West Virginia has voted for Republican presidential candidates in each of the last four presidential races.

8.30am: And Clinton has overtaken Trump in Florida, as results in the crucial state pour in. Clinton now leads 49.5 per cent to Trump’s 47.7 per cent, with about 30 per cent of the vote counted, according to Politico’s live election tally. This is the race to watch, and expect the lead to swing back and forth. In Barack Obama’s estimation, it’s “checkmate” if Clinton wins here.

8.18am: CNN has offered the first vote count from Florida, perhaps the most closely watched state in the entire election. Trump is leading 58.5 per cent to 30.2 per cent for Clinton, but the network cautions that the tallies, representing 2 per cent of the statewide count, are all from the rural north of the state, and may not foretell much.

8.14am: Wire services report that one person has been shot dead and three people wounded near a polling place in Azusa, California. The polling station in a school was locked down; there’s been no word on motive, and the shooter remains at large.

8.08am: And here are the first statewide calls. PBS and CNN are handing Kentucky (eight electoral votes) and Indiana (11 electoral votes) to Trump. Both networks are calling Clinton the winner in Vermont (three electoral votes). No surprises here.

7.58am: Polls are about to close in six states, as well as most of the key battleground of Florida, the state that may hold the key to the entire election.

7.52am Exit polls suggest rejection of Trump’s immigration plans, AP reports: A majority of Americans who have cast ballots already are at odds with Trump on two of his signature immigration proposals. According to the preliminary results of exit polling conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press and television networks, four out of 10 voters say they support building a wall on the US-Mexico border. A majority oppose the idea. About seven out of 10 people who have voted already say they’d rather allow workers in the US illegally have a way to apply for legal status than have them deported. About a quarter of voters support deportation.

7.35am: Here’s the first tally from Indiana, the other state that has already closed polls in some parts. There have only been about 28,000 votes counted (that’s about one per cent of the expected statewide vote) but Trump’s leading 70 per cent to 26 per cent, according to CNN. Again, it’s a gimme Republican state.

7.25am: CNN reports the first vote count from Kentucky, where the eastern half the state has finished voting already. Trump is leading comfortably, 72.7 per cent to Clinton’s 24.6 per cent, with about 11,000 votes counted in what is a rock-solid red state. It doesn’t mean much, but it’s a start for tally watchers.

7.10am: A CNN screenshot of Donald Trump appearing to peek at how wife Melania was voting is going viral.

7am. Trump gets heckled at polling station: The first polls are now closing (in parts of Indiana and Kentucky), with predictions of a strong turnout across the nation and lengthy queues in some states. Among the voters were the presidential candidates themselves who both cast their ballots in their home state of New York. AP reports that Trump, who voted near his Trump Tower home in Manhattan, told Fox News before casting his ballot: “I see so many hopes and so many dreams out there that didn’t happen, that could have happened, with leadership, with proper leadership. And people are hurt so badly.” He had been met with loud boos and heckling from some bystanders at the voting station, in an appropriately raucous coda to the campaign.

Clinton said it was “most humbling” to see her own name on the presidential ballot, AP reports. “I know how much responsibility goes with this,” she said after voting in Chappaqua with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, at her side. “So many people are counting on the outcome of this election, what it means for our country, and I will do the very best I can if I’m fortunate enough to win today.”

The Senate and the House of Representatives

Additional reporting by Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters