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President-Elect Trump addresses supporters in New York City after his victory.

CREDIT: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Trump Wins

Donald Trump pulled off a stunning upset to win the White House. Can he govern a divided nation?

After one of the most divisive elections in U.S. history, Republican Donald Trump won the presidency on November 8, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“It is time for us to come together as one united people,” he told a crowd of elated supporters in New York, adding, “I will be president for all Americans.”

The election was largely decided by tight contests in a handful of battleground states, including Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and North Carolina. Trump won more than the 270 electoral votes (out of 538 total) needed to claim victory. 

The bitterly fought race was unlike anything the American public had experienced before. It pitted a real estate developer and TV celebrity against a former First Lady, U.S. senator, and secretary of state. The final weeks of the campaign were particularly tense, with the candidates hurling accusations and personal insults at each other.

“It’s been the nastiest election ever,” says Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University in Texas.

Defying the Polls

Trump’s victory took many Americans—including politicians and analysts—by surprise. In fact, for much of the general election campaign, most polls showed Clinton significantly ahead. Her lead shrank in the final weeks, however, especially after a surprise announcement from the F.B.I. less than two weeks before Election Day: After previously clearing Clinton of any criminal wrongdoing related to her use of a private email server as secretary of state, the agency said it had found new emails. Nine days later, the F.B.I. said it had again found no evidence of wrongdoing, but the episode breathed new life into the Trump campaign.    

With his victory, Trump is the only person elected to the nation’s top job who has never previously held public office or served as a high-ranking military leader. 

After his inauguration, set for January 20, Trump is expected to focus on the economy, national security, and immigration (see box, below). Trump has said that he wants to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He’s also said he favors destroying the oil fields in the Middle East that help fund the terrorist group ISIS. 

Trump will have to reach across the aisle to get things done.

At home, Trump’s No. 1 priority will be the economy. The nation as a whole has largely recovered from the economic crisis that began in 2007. The unemployment rate is now about 5 percent, down from a high of 10 percent in 2009. But many people haven’t benefited from the recovery, and the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest Americans is growing. Many voters are also concerned about the loss of jobs to countries where labor is cheaper. 

To address those problems, Trump has said that he’ll use his business experience to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. He’s also pledged to cut the tax rate for corporations and renegotiate foreign trade deals to make them more favorable to the U.S. 

Over the next few months, Trump will begin to choose members of his Cabinet. Those advisers will run key government departments, including education, justice, and defense. 

A Republican Congress

Trump remains unpopular among many Americans—both Democrats and Republicans—including many members of Congress. But Trump’s path forward will be eased by the fact that Republicans will keep control of both the Senate and the House. The last time there was a Republican in the White House and Republicans in control of both houses of Congress was 2006.

Even so, political experts say Trump will have to reach across the aisle and work with members of both political parties if he’s going to be a successful president.  

“Washington is a system of divided powers; to get anything done legislatively, you need to get Congress to say yes,” says Professor Thomas Patterson of Harvard’s Kennedy School. “I suspect that Trump as president will be different than Trump as candidate.”

Trump’s to-do list
Some Key Issues

1. Boosting the economy

2. Dealing with ISIS and other terrorist groups

3. Immigration 

4. Renegotiating trade deals

5. Judicial appointments

6. The rise of China

7. Repealing Obamacare

8. Lowering tax rates

9. Rethinking U.S. alliances

10. Nuclear threat from North Korea and Iran

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