In the most stunning presidential upset in American political history, New York businessman Donald J. Trump on Wednesday defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a vociferous White House campaign that saw criminal investigations on one side and unseemly personal revelations on the other.
At press time, Trump had won in 29 states, receiving 279 electoral votes to Clinton’s victory in 18 states and 228 electoral votes, despite the fact that she could conceivably win the popular vote (59,186,057 to Trump’s 59,049,470 by Wednesday morning). Results from Vermont remained too close to call. Early Wednesday morning, the two-time presidential hopeful conceded the election to Trump and later addressed her supporters, stating: “I know how disappointed you feel, because I feel it too. This is painful and it will be for a long time, but I want you to remember this: Our campaign was never about one person or even one election. It was about the country we love and building an America that’s hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted. I still believe in America, and I always will.”
A peaceful transition
President Barack Obama on Wednesday spoke in the Rose Garden and congratulated President-elect Trump and vowed to work with the latter’s team to ensure a peaceful transition of power. Obama also called the president-elect to invite him to a meeting in the Oval Office on Thursday.
“It is no secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences,” Obama said with Vice President Joe Biden looking on. Obama said he would instruct his team to follow the example set by President George W. Bush’s team as they transitioned out of power, adding that he and his predecessor also had significant differences, when Obama took office.
By almost every indication, Clinton looked to win the presidency, even after an 11-hour bombshell from FBI Director James Comey on the e-mail controversy that had dogged her campaign; polls in the days leading up to election night showed Clinton ahead by 4 points.
Republicans retained the Senate with 51 seats versus 45 for Democrats, while the House of Representatives remained in GOP hands with 241 seats against 194 for Democrats.
‘Come together as one united people’
In accepting victory, Trump struck a conciliatory tone after the brutal campaign that pitted liberals against conservatives, Blacks against Whites, men against women, and ethnic groups and the immigrant community against the larger body politic in ways not seen in any modern presidential election.
“Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division—have to get together,” Trump told jubilant supporters at the New York Hilton. “To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”
Leaders around the world, including Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Theresa May, issued messages of congratulations to Trump. In addressing the “world community” during his victory speech, Trump said that “while we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone … all people and all other nations. We will seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.”
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin sent congratulations to Trump with the publication Russia Today reporting that Putin “has expressed confidence that the dialogue between Moscow and Washington, in keeping with each other’s views, meets the interests of both Russia and the U.S.”
An ‘outsider’ suprises all
In claiming victory, the president-elect did not mention his most criticized proposals such as dismantling the Affordable Care Act, building a wall on the Mexican border, banning [some] Muslim immigration, and calls to rework trade deals.
U.S. political analysts said that Trump’s status as a non-politician “outsider” threatening to shake up the establishment resonated with voters, as did his attacks on trade and immigration policies. Also, Trump did much better with women voters and piled up a huge number of White working-class votes, particularly in rural areas.
Trump succeeded in expanding beyond the traditional Republican boundaries to reach frightened and upset Americans such as the throngs who attended his rallies. Clinton received strong support among minorities, especially Latinos, and fared much better with college-educated White voters than any previous Democratic nominee. In the so-called “battleground” states of Florida and Nevada, an outpouring of early voting by Democrats reportedly broke records and prompted Clinton strategists to prematurely predict victory.
In some major cities, African Americans did not turn out for Clinton as they did for President Obama in 2008 and in 2012. These deficits were even more pronounced in blue-collar White regions like northern Pennsylvania, which revealed Clinton’s weaknesses, but were offset somewhat by strong showings in the state’s suburbs and urban areas. Clinton handily won California earlier in the evening, garnering 61.4 percent of the vote (5.45 million ballots) versus Trump at 33.3 percent (2.95 million votes).
A crack in ‘glass ceiling’
Some political analysts say Clinton won Virginia, Colorado and Nevada in catering to those states growing ethnic diversity, but Trump’s appeal among older less cosmopolitan America gave him unexpected victories in Florida and in Ohio. The Clinton campaign regularly upset expectations with her quest to break the “glass ceiling” that has been a constant in American politics, while billionaire Trump successfully took the role of an outsider, expressing the grievances and anger of much of the nation’s White working-class population.
Other political analysts studying the election results have pointed to the infamous “Bradley effect” in which exit polling indicated that Clinton was the clear choice among Democratic voters who, instead, cast ballots for Trump for fear of being labeled sexist. The term comes from the 1982 California gubernatorial contest between Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and Gov. George Deukmejian when, based on exit polls indicating Bradley was the projected winner, post-election research indicated that a smaller number of Whites had voted for Bradley than polls indicated, and that previously undecided voters had opted for Deukmejian.
Trump’s victory is due primarily to his larger-than-life persona. He gained the keys to the White House despite insisting that President Obama was not born in the United States but rather in Kenya; dismissed Obama, U.S. trade negotiations and military leaders as “stupid” and “losers,” and mocked Arizona Sen. John McCain for being captured in the Vietnam War.
Harris marches to victory
Trump criticized women in the coarsest terms, physically mimicked a disabled New York Times reporter and, later, a pneumonia-stricken Clinton. Trump never adhered to the basic traditions of political candidates—never releasing his tax returns—only gave cursory information about his health, and among more than a dozen GOP primary challengers he was labeled unfit to lead.
In the U.S. Senate race in California, Attorney General Kamala Harris soundly defeated Garden Grove Rep. Loretta Sanchez with 62.5 percent of the vote versus 37.5 percent. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield defeated Democrat Wendy Reed by a margin of 70.6 percent of ballots cast versus 29.4 percent, while Lancaster Rep. Steve Knight defeated democratic challenger Brian Caforio by a tally of 54.3 percent of the vote to 45.7 percent.
In other House races, Democrat Karen Bass of Los Angeles routed fellow Democrat Chris Wiggins 82.1 percent of ballots cast against 17.9 percent for the 37th District race, and long-time Rep. Maxine Waters returned to office in the 43rd District by defeating Republican Omar Navarro 75.7 percent to 24.3 percent. Democrat Nanette Barragan will be seated in the 44th District after narrowly defeating Compton’s Isadore Hall 51.2 percent to 48.8 percent. In the race for State Senate District 25, Democrat Anthony Portantino defeated outgoing County Supervisor Michael Antonovich 57.5 percent to 42.5 percent.
More housing for homeless
Reginald Jones-Sawyer ran unopposed for State Assembly District 59, while Democrat Sebastian Ridley-Thomas overwhelmed Republican challenger Glen Ratcliff 81.9 percent to 18.1 percent in the race for State Assembly District 54. Carson Democrat Mike Gipson defeated Republican Theresa Sanford 73.9 percent to 26.1 percent for State Assembly District 64, and Democrat Autumn Burke won a sizeable victory against Republican Marco Leal (77.5 percent to 17.4 percent) for State Assembly District 62.
Harris becomes the first African American woman in California to be elected to the United States Senate. She outpaced Sanchez in spending, paying out more than $12 million of the $13 million her campaign had raised. She will replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Los Angeles city officials are hailing voter approval of a $1.2 billion bond measure to fund permanent housing for the chronically homeless. Proposition HHH will allow the city to sell bonds to finance as many as 10,000 housing units designed for homeless people who are difficult to house. The “permanent supportive housing” will include on-site health, mental health and substance-abuse services as well as case management.
Measure M passes
“With the passage of HHH, it’s now time for the county to step up to provide critical supportive services for the homeless,” said County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas who championed the measure.
County voters threw their support behind another half-cent sales tax once again to fund transit and transportation projects. Barring a major swing in still-incorporated provisional and questioned ballots, Measure M will add another half-cent transportation sales tax for county residents, on top of the existing half-cent Measure R sales tax already on the books. When Measure R expires in July 2039, the Measure M tax will increase to a penny and be permanent.
“We’re getting a job done,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This measure will result in improvements in communities throughout the county, reduce daily traffic delay by 15 percent, and help create 465,000 jobs and provide funding for street paving and pothole repair throughout the region.”
A ballot measure that would have given the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (DWP) oversight panel more authority was narrowly defeated, while another measure to enroll airport police officers in the same retirement benefits package as their Los Angeles Police Department counterparts appeared on Wednesday to be headed for a tight victory.
Charter Amendment RRR would have increased the residents’ commission overseeing the DWP from five to seven members, and required its members to have experience or qualifications in related fields. The measure was backed by LA City Council and DWP officials who said it would improve the way the often maligned public utility is operated.
‘Bodacious buds’ get the okay
The fate of Charter Amendment SSS may depend (at press time) on the number of still-uncounted provisional or questioned ballots remaining to be tallied. In short, the measure would allow new airport police officers and firefighters to be enrolled in retirement benefits from the same system as sworn employees of the LAPD, LAFD and harbor departments.
California has joined a growing trend across the nation by approving the recreational use of marijuana and hemp. Proposition 64 will also establish packaging, labeling, advertising and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products, including a prohibition on the marketing and advertising of marijuana to minors.
The measure will impose a state excise tax on retail sales of marijuana equal to 15 percent of the sales price and state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of “buds” and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. The initiative allows for local regulation and taxation of marijuana and exempts medical marijuana from some taxation. Also, the passage of Proposition 64 authorizes re-sentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions.
Finally, the death penalty will remain on the books in California with voters rejecting a bid to abolish the punishment. A competing measure designed to speed up executions was too close to call at press time. Proposition 62 would have repealed the death penalty and replaced it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The initiative would have applied retroactively to people already sentenced to death, and would have required prisoners serving life sentences for murder (with no chance of parole) to work while incarcerated.
The vote tally was unavailable for Proposition 66 which would not only maintain the death penalty, but take steps to expedite appeals to quicken the pace of executions. The last execution carried out in California was in 2006, and since then they have been put on hold because of a Ninth Circuit ruling requiring a medical professional to administer lethal injection drugs.