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US Election: Clinton supporters dejected as experts get Trump appeal so wrong

By Claire Williamson

Published 10/11/2016

Tearful supporters of Hillary Clinton
Tearful supporters of Hillary Clinton

The 2016 election campaign was like no other, with two candidates branded the least popular in American history.

There was high drama, tension and emotion right up until the last minute in Michigan as political novice Donald Trump won the race to the White House.

And for his rival Hillary Clinton, her would-be historic party as the first female US President turned into a wake, as Trump blew up the electoral map.

The morning after the night before saw people still in tears as the explosive events began to sink in, with Clinton conceding victory to Trump saying that the result was "painful, and will be for a long time".

Michigan became a last-minute battleground state with both campaigns targeting it on the eve of election day. Traditionally Democratic, it was one that Trump set his eyes on to pry away from the clutches of Clinton.

It last backed a Republican presidential candidate in 1988.

The lead in the state changed throughout the night and was still too close to call on Wednesday - but with Trump taking a slight lead.

But as the results trickled in it quickly transpired that the political experts and forecasters - who for weeks had projected that Clinton was ahead in the opinion polls - had not been accurate.

Niall Stanage from Belfast, who is associate editor of the US political newspaper The Hill, said Trump's election was "a political earthquake".

"It was just an extraordinary night, one that really will go down in American history," he said.

"We've never seen anything like this. All the opinion polls were wrong. It wasn't even quite a Brexit situation.

"With Brexit you had some polls that were predicting the UK would leave.

"Here, almost overwhelmingly, the polls were suggesting a Clinton victory by a fairly comfortable margin.

"In particular, Donald Trump has swept through the upper Mid West and Rust Belt states."

Mr Stanage said the reaction in Washington, where he is based, was one of shock.

"People on the Left of the political spectrum are still trying to get their heads around that - they just can't believe that it has happened," he added.

At Detroit's Democrat party in Michigan the mood initially was one of celebration and hope, with Clinton supporters proudly sporting their badges and T-shirts. They remained defiant, cheering as the votes started to flood in- but it wasn't long before the atmosphere became subdued.

A table of Champagne glasses sat untouched as Trump's dominant lead left the Clinton campaign a very narrow path to victory.

And when he took Pennsylvania, the feeling was palpable that it was game over.

Tears could be seen in the eyes of Clinton's supporters as they left the Detroit event early with heavy hearts.

Departing before Trump was declared victor, 66-year-old Sherry Nether said: "I'm very sad, disgusted and I'm disappointed.

"I thought it was going to go a different way and so did a whole lot of people too - I guess they got the projection wrong.

"They are going to have to do something about the way they predict elections. Donald Trump said a lot of things that he is going to have to take back or find some way to get the country back together. He's too divisive.

"I'm just upset because I don't think he deserved to be President. He doesn't have the background, experience, leadership, temperament, he just got a pass on a lot of things."

But it was a victory for Trump's supporters, who woke up with smiles on their faces.

They had created a mass movement since their man announced his candidacy.

Among his supporters was Stephanie from Michigan, who voted for Trump in a bid to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House.

She said: "He is for the people, he represents what we want back. He could bring America back to life and make it better for the people."

Belfast Telegraph

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