Today in History: Donald J. Trump elected as 45th President in 2016, defeating Hillary Clinton

On November 8, 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States, defeating long-time career politician, Hillary Clinton, as a political newcomer in one of the biggest upset victories of all time.

New York City real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president after stepping off an escalator and speaking to supporters at Trump Tower on July 15, 2015, promising to “Make America Great Again.”

Donald Trump, a New York City real estate mogul and television star, stepped onto an escalator with his wife, Melania Trump, into a packed lobby at Trump Tower on July 15, 2015. As Trump got off the escalator and stood at his podium, he declared that he was running for president, and that he would “Make American Great Again.”

Trump ran alongside 16 Republican hopefuls, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, criticizing them as being weak, ineffective, and “all talk and no action” career politicians.

On March 17, 2016, Trump surpassed the delegate threshold needed to win the GOP’s nomination. Trump officially accepted the nomination on July 21, 2016, and drafted Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate.

Democrat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton secured the Democrat Party’s presidential nomination after fending off a surprisingly close primary challenge from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton tapped Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton held campaign rallies with supporters around the country during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump and Clinton began campaigning across the country, traveling to swing states holding rallies with supporters. Trump held massive rallies with supporters, nearly filling stadiums. Trump’s unorthodox campaign was one of the first of its kind. He often did not use a teleprompter at events and said things that were typically seen as “politically incorrect.”

Trump campaigned through rustbelt states Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, which had historically voted for Democrats, while Clinton focused heavily on Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, and New Hampshire, assuming she would win the rustbelt. Eventually, Clinton traveled to Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, as Trump began closing in on her lead.

As Election Day neared, Trump was trailing Clinton in nearly every poll. Most of the mainstream media outlets had reported that Trump virtually had no way of winning, predicting that Clinton would win in a landslide. The New York Times gave Clinton an 85 percent chance of winning. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight forecast gave Clinton a 71.4 percent chance of victory. Huffington Post gave Clinton a 98.1 percent chance of victory. Clinton polled ahead of Trump in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, sometimes by double-digits.

In 2016, Donald Trump obtained 306 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 232. Trump flipped Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

On Election Night, Trump won Ohio, which had gone to every winner of the presidency since 1964, by nearly double-digits early in the night. He then took North Carolina, Florida, and Iowa. Trump later flipped both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and Hillary Clinton called him to concede the election.

President-elect Donald Trump defeated one of the most powerful career politicians in the nation as a political newcomer. He became the first president to serve without ever holding office or prior military service. Trump, at 70-years-old, also became the oldest president in history (Ronald Reagan was 69-years-old when he was sworn in).

On Jan. 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, turning the nation’s course from eight years of the Obama era.


Borenstein, Seth. “Trump Clinches GOP Nomination with Tuesday Primary Wins.” AP NEWS. Associated Press, March 18, 2020. Editors. “The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.” A&E Television Networks, November 29, 2018.

HuffPost. “Our @Pollsterpolls Model Gives @HillaryClinton a 98.1% Chance of Winning the Presidency Https://” Twitter. Twitter, November 7, 2016.

Katz, Josh. “2016 Election Forecast: Who Will Be President?” The New York Times. The New York Times, July 19, 2016.

Kruse, Michael, Jeremy B. White, Sam Sutton and Carly Sitrin, and Bill Mahoney and Josh Gerstein. “The Escalator Ride That Changed America.” POLITICO Magazine, June 14, 2019.

NateSilver538. “2016 Election Forecast.” FiveThirtyEight, November 8, 2016.

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