- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump traded wins in the East and Midwest on Tuesday night, though as results came in Mr. Trump had yet to capture any of the blue states he would need to win the White House.

Mr. Trump’s advisers were sounding despondent notes about their chances, and exit polling showed a difficult path for novice politician. Those polls showed him trailing among women and minority voters — particularly Hispanics, who were expected to make up a growing percentage of the vote, and who went for Mrs. Clinton by significant margins in a number of key states.

Mrs. Clinton was striving for the history books, looking to become the first woman to win the nation’s top office. Mr. Trump, meanwhile, was aiming to jump the line and be the first person to win the White House without ever having held a high government office or served as a military commander.

President Obama, whose legacy was also on the line, pleaded with Americans to accept the results whatever the outcome.

“Remember, no matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning and America will still be the greatest nation on earth,” the president said in a taped message broadcast on Twitter for Buzzfeed.

A host of important states were too close to call at press time. Full results are available at WashingtonTimes.com.

Down the ballot, Republicans held on to their seats in some of the high-profile Senate races, but Democrats captured one seat in Illinois and were eyeing a handful of other seats later in the night — more than enough to swing control of the chamber, should they break for Democrats.

Republicans were projected to keep control of the House, however, guaranteeing them at least a piece of power going forward.

Whatever the outcome, the presidential contest seemed unlikely to bridge the deep divides that have emerged in politics over the past quarter-century, and voters were decidedly unhappy with the choices the major parties gave them for the White House.

“I think Donald Trump is an idiot,” Pam Lamonaca, a 63-year-old caregiver, said as she voted in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

Mrs. Clinton sparked similar discontent.

“I just don’t trust Hillary Clinton. She’s not honest,” said Jane Ginsberg, 53, a housewife with four children. “I trust him more. My instincts tell me that.”

Perhaps most surprising was that Mrs. Clinton’s chance to make history as the first female president was not on voters’ minds — and even hurt her with at least one Pennsylvania voter.

“I’m a woman, and I don’t think any woman belongs in the presidency. It’s too heavy a load. There’s too much emotions,” said Fran Dicrescenza, 78. “Men don’t have those emotions.”

She said Mr. Trump was “too rough around the edges,” but she ended up casting a ballot for him, hoping he would follow through on his pro-life promises.

“I would love to see a woman president, believe me. But not her,” said Dee Cleary, 60, a medical billing worker who cast her ballot for Mr. Trump at an education center in the Philadelphia suburbs in Delaware County.

Mrs. Clinton led in polling for most of the race, with only a brief blip by Mr. Trump after his July nominating convention appeared to showcase a unified Republican Party. Democrats’ convention a week later, however, dented his momentum.

The Republican appeared to be gaining ground in late September, but an uneven performance in the first debate between the two candidates reshuffled the deck and gave Mrs. Clinton a polling lead she never relinquished — despite strong headwinds.

Mrs. Clinton was dogged by questions surrounding her secret email system that she used during her four-year tenure as secretary of state — an arrangement that not shielded her emails from public view for six years and risked national security, according to the FBI.

The bureau said Mrs. Clinton was “extremely careless” with top-secret information but was too inept to know what she was doing, so Director James B. Comey said prosecutors couldn’t make a case against her. Mr. Comey breathed new life into the investigation two weeks ago, announcing the discovery of still more emails, then cleared Mrs. Clinton again on Sunday.

That is unlikely to end the investigations into the former secretary, who is also being probed over whether she and her family crossed ethical lines in soliciting contributions to their charitable foundation from countries or wealthy individuals she had business with while serving as the nation’s chief diplomat.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, ran a controversial campaign from the start, kicking off his bid by taking a strident stance against illegal immigration and accusing Mexico of sending rapists and other criminals to the U.S.

Over the ensuing months Mr. Trump would question the military service of Sen. John McCain, fire verbal shots over Twitter at Pope Francis, attack the Muslim parents of a slain U.S. Army captain, and face public accusations of sexual assault from a host of women.

Mr. Obama, who derailed Mrs. Clinton’s presidential hopes in 2008 with victory that year, invested heavily in trying to make sure she succeeded him. He even overshadowed Mrs. Clinton on the trail, earning big crowds and dominating media attention.

Mr. Obama said voting for Mr. Trump would be a rejection of his own hope-and-change agenda and would be a disappointing statement for the country itself.

But the president struggled to bequeath the coalition that powered him to two White House victories, with black voters in particular showing less enthusiasm for Mrs. Clinton than they did for Mr. Obama, who made history as the country’s first black president.

Independent candidates hoped this would be the year they would break through, figuring that dissatisfaction with the two major-party nominees would leave voters searching for an alternative.

But that didn’t happen. Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein failed to make the stage for any of the debates, undercutting their visibility at a time when voters were finally beginning to focus on the race.

Seth McLaughlin, Dave Boyer and Ben Wolfgang contributed to this article.

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