Hillary Clinton has been elected the first woman president of the United States, narrowly defeating Republican Donald J. Trump in what many consider to be the most divisive presidential campaign in U.S. history.
Trump led the vote count most of the night, but Clinton managed the win after projections came in early Wednesday morning.
Voters turned out Tuesday in response to a campaign dogged by personal attacks, issues relating to gender race and religion, and an FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails. More than 42 million voters cast early ballots, more than in any other election.
Clinton, 69, a former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. She returns to the White House 16 years after the end of husband President Bill Clinton’s second term in office.
The 2016 presidential race began in earnest in March 2015, when Sen. Ted Cruz announced his intention to seek the GOP nomination. Clinton launched her campaign on April 12, 2015, with a YouTube video. Her biggest Democratic challenger was Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent who chose to run as a Democrat. The Clinton-Sanders contest was often bruising, pitting the Democrats’ moderate center against its more liberal arm. Clinton ultimately won the primary race, accepting her party’s nomination in Philadelphia on July 28. Sanders later supported the Clinton bid, campaigning on her behalf.
Trump, an unexpected contender for the GOP nod, kicked off his run June 16, 2015, with an escalator ride into the lobby of his self-named Fifth Avenue tower in Manhattan. Trump’s message seemed to reverberate with voters tired of the Washington logjam. He accepted the Republican nomination July 21 in Cleveland, a win that stunned media pundits and left the GOP establishment reeling.
The campaign was marked by attacks from both sides and included a videotape in which Trump discusses sexually assaulting women and a last-minute disclosure by the FBI director that thousands of Clinton’s Secretary of State emails had been found on the laptop of disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner. Huma Abedin, Weiner’s estranged wife, is one of Clinton’s closest aides.
The candidates’ verbal sparring boiled over during the first presidential debate Sept. 26 when more than 80 million people tuned in to the most-watched presidential television debate in U.S. history. Subsequent debates were comparably rancorous, with Trump calling Clinton a “nasty woman” and Clinton questioning Trump’s fitness for the nation’s highest office.
Inauguration is set for Friday, Jan. 20. Workers already have begun constructing the stage in front of the U.S. Capitol.