How did this happen? How is Trump our president elect? 

We're waking up to a very different America today.

  • Illustration by Wayne Bertsch

When the polls closed in most of Indiana at 6 p.m., it took major media outlets no time at all to call the traditionally red state for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

That came as no surprise.

After all, Indiana has traditionally fallen in line with the GOP presidential hopeful for the last 50 years, with the only exceptions being Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 and Barack Obama in 2008.

Republican Hoosiers are still scratching their heads over how the African American senator from Illinois was able to turn a traditionally red state blue, especially when the governor’s office was soundly secured by a GOP incumbent along with all statewide races and the majority of Indiana’s nine congressional seats.

2016 has become an even stranger head scratcher.

We are waking up to President-Elect Donald J. Trump.

It’s not so much a head scratcher in terms of Indiana and the rest of the country voting Republican. The conundrum originates from 2015 when a narcissistic billionaire entered politics for the first time in his life and decided he wanted to win the nation’s highest elected office.

The media — from mainstream corporate interests to amateur bloggers — followed Trump with interest wondering how in the world a political outsider could ever possibly think he could be the leader of the free world.

Media of all sorts became fascinated with the Orange One’s outrageous rhetoric. His claims of securing the country’s southern border with Mexico by building a wall, that Mexico would subsequently pay for, was mocked and ridiculed by pundits and primary opponents. When it came time for primary debates, caucuses and elections, the crazy rhetoric increased — kicking all Muslims out of the country, bringing law and order back to law enforcement (code of Blue Lives Matter more?) and punishing women who choose to have an abortion.

The press, in its disbelief that such a man could ascend to the presidency, covered it all.

But the media’s disbelief that Trump could actually win followed him to Indiana’s primary, one of the last primary elections in the country. It was in the Hoosier state that Trump bested Senator Cruz, clearing the field for the title of presumptive nominee. It didn’t even seem real when Trump gave his nomination acceptance speech on the last night of the Republican National Convention. His attention turned to former Secretary of State Clinton and the big prize to be won in November.

Trump always believed himself to be able to win.

Period. Indiana gave Trump the primary win he needed to seal the deal. In return, he took embattled governor Mike Pence as his running mate. The move was a welcome site for many different people on many different fronts. For those disillusioned with the governor, Trump made “Pence Must Go” a reality in the literal sense. For those impressed with the businessman’s “tell-it-like-it-is” abrasive nature, Pence offered the perfect balance with his calm, serene, establishment-approved demeanor. And for Pence, Trump offered him the unexpected path to Washington’s executive branch he was looking for.

The stars aligned in Indiana when no one and everyone were looking.

The path to election night was an ugly one. Mistakes made on the campaign trail were laser-targeted by the press as the thought “this could really happen?!” began to sink in and take hold. Both sides canvassed like never before.

Accusations of unpaid taxes, a history of racial discrimination in housing practices and even the revelation of sexual predatory practices towards women were not enough to cut the billionaire down. Each attack was worn as a badge of honor. And the taint of Trump’s image became the armor he would wear all the way to Election Day.

It was a day that saw what will probably be hailed as record turnout to the polls. Lines formed all over the city, the state and the country. It was a long day for voters who spent time in line to cast their ballot. It was an even longer night for poll workers who did their best to keep lines moving and give everyone who appeared the chance to make their voices heard.

It was also a long night.

As battleground states counted their ballots and precincts reported their totals, the needle indicating who would take the state swayed back and forth between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. As the night progressed and Trump overtook more states by narrow margins that were assumed weeks in advance as all but guaranteed for Clinton. By 2 a.m. Trump led the electoral vote count on CNN 247 to Clinton’s 215. A president-elect needs 270 for a decisive win.

But by 2:45 a.m., it was announced that Clinton had called Trump to concede the election. Trump had only 268 electoral votes to his name with at least 4 states still undecided.

By 3:00 a.m. the remaining states were called for Trump pushing him over the 270- vote threshold to 288 electoral votes.

Come January 20, 2017 it will be a new day —and for some a dark day — in the United States of America when Donald Trump takes the oath of office.


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About The Author

Amber Stearns

Amber Stearns

Amber Stearns was born, raised, and educated right here in Indianapolis. She holds a B.S. in Communications from the University of Indianapolis (1995). Following a 20-year career in radio news in Indiana, Amber joined NUVO as News Editor in 2014.
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