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Divided Nation: 1992–2016

U.S. Presidential Election of 2016 and Aftermath

2016 Presidential Campaign and Election

In the contentious run-up to the 2016 presidential election, candidates Hillary Clinton (Democrat) and Donald Trump (Republican) fought hard to earn the trust of the American people.

The 2016 U.S. presidential election was unpredictable, to say the least. The first female presidential nominee of a major party, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, seemed poised to win the White House with ease. She was the wife of a former president, a former senator from New York, and secretary of state under President Obama. She was pitted against a well-known businessman and media personality with no political experience, Republican Donald Trump. However, the battle was fierce. Scandals emerged on both sides. Clinton's use of an unsecured, personal e-mail server during her tenure as secretary of state was said to have demonstrated disregard for security and the sensitive nature of the information. Additional questions were raised regarding donations to the Clinton Foundation and political favors that may have followed. Trump faced his own setbacks, including the public broadcasting of a lewd conversation concerning women, which sparked accusations of sexual harassment from several women.

The mainstream media severely underestimated Trump's popularity. Going into election day, most major news outlets projected Clinton to be the clear winner. Though Clinton picked up 65.8 million popular votes to Trump's 63 million, Trump secured 304 electoral college votes to Clinton's 227, which gave Trump the victory.

Trump's win only deepened the social and ideological divide between liberals and conservatives. Outraged Democrats blamed Clinton's loss on the briefly reopened FBI investigation into her use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state. Some blamed the media; others blamed the electoral college. Some analysts suggest that Clinton lost because she represented continuity, not change, while Trump was better able to reach America's working class.

Trump became the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017. His inauguration was closely followed by calls for full-out resistance to his administration at the state and federal level, in the courts, in the media, and on the streets. In the first two months of his presidency, some members of Congress made it clear that they intended to impeach Trump at all costs. The legitimacy of his presidency was also challenged by accusations that his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election. In July 2017, a special counsel was appointed to investigate the matter. The fallout from the lengthy investigation and the unprecedented intensity of political partisanship affected Congress's ability to enact legislation and kept the national mood unsettled.

2016 Electoral Map

Donald Trump campaigned hard in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, all of which had voted Democratic since the 1990s. His strategy paid off, earning him the presidency based on electoral votes, even though he lost the popular vote.