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The returns went into the early hours of Wednesday morning, but eventually the state of Pennsylvania was called for Donald Trump which sent him over the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes to clinch the presidency. Just prior to that announcement, Clinton campaign manager, John Podesta, spoke to the gathered Hillary fans in New York and said they wouldn’t be conceding anything until all the votes were counted. Even at that point in the evening, the writing was on the wall, and a short time later, PA went Trump, Hillary called to concede, and the 2016 campaign came to an end.

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I spent the evening following the New York Times live forecast of actual vote returns and things started to go Trump’s way during the 9pm hour last night. Here’s their chart which is based on the actual vote returns which extrapolates a candidate’s chance of winning the presidency.

ny-times-projection

The night started with a projection of 80% chance that Hillary wins the race. As the time ticked by, and Trump started winning in Florida, the projection Clinton projection meltedd away. Right around 9:30pm ET last night, the projection crossed into Trump territory as returns started trickling in from North Carolina, Ohio, and others. It was quite clear by 10pm ET that Trump was having an outstanding night.

Here is John Podesta addressing the crowds of Clinton supporters at 2am ET:

His brief statements seemed to indicate an unwillingness on the part of the Hillary campaign to admit defeat, and perhaps hinted at some recounts in certain areas.

However, something changed shortly after Podesta addressed the crowd which sealed the race and left the Clinton campaign with no further course to 270 electoral votes. It was then reported that Hillary Clinton had spoke to Donald Trump and offered her concession of the race around 2:30am ET.

Around 2:45am ET, the crowd at Trump headquarters in New York erupted as it was announced that Donald Trump and Mike Pence would be addressing the supporters to claim victory.

Here is the full speech from Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, and President-Elect Donald Trump:

The rest, as they say, is history. Hillary Clinton is expected to deliver a statement at some point today.

So, what happened to the polls, prognosticators, and projections? Nearly everyone – and that includes everyone – was completely wrong when it came to forecasting that Trump would win places like Wisconsin, Michigan, or Pennsylvania. Even North Carolina seemed to move out of reach in recent days, though Trump won it handily.

The short answer is the “Shy-Trump” voters and the totally unknown Trump voters which simply were not accounted for in the polls. That group of voters, coupled with the large number of undecided voters, all broke to Trump in the MidWest which made for a situation that pollsters simply couldn’t account for.

A little explanation from USAToday:

Several months of polls pegged Hillary Clinton as the leader in the polarizing race and as the leader in many key battleground states.

But Trump’s surge crushed the conventional wisdom among pollsters. Early Wednesday, he was far outpacing projections across the board.

The results suggest pollsters may have wildly underestimated the number of hidden Trump voters — people who stampeded to the ballot box on Election Day but never showed up on the radar of surveyors. [Emphasis added]

There was one notable exception among pollsters.

The Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California tracking poll consistently pegged Trump as the leader throughout the final months of the campaign — and to much derision from political pundits.

The difference-maker was likely the enthusiasm gap. Trump voters were excited to vote, and determined to vote. Hillary supporters were not to that level of excitement or dedication, and the results showed up in Democratic strongholds like Pennsylvania.

The icing on the electoral cake is that Republicans, while losing a couple seats, will retain a 51-seat majority in the US Senate, and retain a huge majority in the House, only giving up a handful of districts.

CNN reports on what the House and Senate will look like under President Trump next year:

Republicans pulled off a political stunner Tuesday night — running the table down-ballot and keeping control of the House and Senate, CNN projects.

In a year when the GOP was almost entirely on defense, the party’s incumbents — many outspent and hobbled by struggling campaigns — managed to survive a political landscape that long appeared all but certain to cost them the Senate.

Democrats believed they had the perfect mix: Near-locks in blue Illinois and Wisconsin. Top-grade recruits in red states Indiana and Missouri to get them close. And Donald Trump would drag down Republican incumbents in the battlegrounds of Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and North Carolina.

Then, on Tuesday night, everything went wrong for them.

The biggest surprise is that Trump was no drag on the GOP ticket at all — and might have even helped carry the party.

Trump’s margin of victory matched or exceeded those of Todd Young in Indiana and Sen. Richard Burr in North Carolina. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who embraced Trump despite expectations the GOP nominee lose his historically Democratic-leaning state, surged late in the race and benefited from Trump’s stunning performance there. Incumbents Roy Blunt in Missouri and Pat Toomey won as well, CNN projects.

As of 3 a.m. ET, Republicans held 51 seats to 47 for the Democrats.

The Republicans easily held the House, and on a night party officials were confident they’d tip the balance of power in the Senate, Republicans not only remain the majority party — but appear to head into the 2018 midterms with a map so favorable that a filibuster-proof, 60-seat supermajority is within reach.

So what to make of all this? Nearly everyone got it wrong, from pollsters, to the election forecasters. However, did anyone get it right? Yes, actually, several individuals and at least one media outlet got it correct.

Breitbart, the ardent pro-Trump website was closest to the mark, as we wrote about in recent days.

We also wrote about the economic indicators as well as historical models which clearly favored a Trump win, despite the immense poling avalanche backing Hillary.

There will be much to analyze about this race for months to come. How did Trump defy all political odds? Did the Hillary campaign become complacent? Why did pollsters get it so badly wrong? Does this race redefine the political map for decades?

Many good questions to explore in the coming weeks.

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