VOTE 2016: Donald Trump elected as 45th president of the United States

Donald Trump claimed his place Wednesday as America's 45th president, an astonishing victory for the celebrity businessman and political novice who capitalized on voters' economic anxieties, took advantage of racial tensions and overcame a string of sexual assault allegations on his way to the White House.

Donald Trump awakened a movement of angry working-class voters fed up with political insiders and desperate for change. On Tuesday, that movement propelled him to the White House.

Trump's triumph over Hillary Clinton, not declared until well after midnight, will end eight years of Democratic dominance of the White House. He'll govern with Congress fully under Republican control and lead a country deeply divided by his rancorous campaign against Clinton. He faces fractures within his own party, too, given the numerous Republicans who either tepidly supported his nomination or never backed him at all.

As he claimed victory, Trump urged Americans to "come together as one united people."

"We will begin the task of rebuilding our nation and renewing the American dream," Trump told supporters early Wednesday morning after his victory.

Clinton, who hoped to become the nation's first female president, called her Republican rival to concede but did not plan to speak publicly until Wednesday morning. Trump, who spent much of the campaign urging his supporters on as they chanted "lock her up," said the nation owed Clinton "a major debt of gratitude" for her years of public service. President Barack Obama called Trump early Wednesday to congratulate him on the victory and had "a very nice talk," Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said. She said Trump would possibly meet with Obama on Thursday.

The Republican blasted through Democrats' longstanding firewall, carrying Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states that hadn't voted for a GOP presidential candidate since the 1980s. He needed to win nearly all of the competitive battleground states, and he did just that, including Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and others.

Global stock markets and U.S. stock futures plunged, reflecting investor concern over what a Trump presidency might mean for the U.S. and world economies and trade.

Click PLAY to watch Trump's victory speech:

A New York real estate developer who lives in a sparkling Manhattan high-rise, Trump forged a striking connection with white, working class Americans who feel left behind in a changing economy and diversifying country. He cast immigration, both from Latin America and the Middle East, as the root of the problems plaguing many Americans and tapped into fears of terrorism emanating at home and abroad.

Trump's stunning, come-from-behind victory over Hillary Clinton served as a symbolic raised middle finger to the political establishment from his fervent backers.

But to millions of others, the billionaire businessman's elevation to the presidency is a shocking, catastrophic blow that threatens the security and identity of a bitterly divided nation.

Many see the president-elect as a racist, a bigot and a misogynist unfit for the office.

"He scares the daylights out of me," said Wendy Bennett, a Democrat and government worker from Reno, Nevada, who cast her ballot for Clinton. "I think his personality is going to start World War III. He reminds me of Hitler."

STORY: GOP sweeps N. Carolina, but governor too close to call

Lisa Moore, a registered Republican from Glen Rock, New Jersey, crossed party lines to vote for Clinton, who would have been the nation's first female president.

"As a woman, in good conscience, and as the mother of a daughter, I can't vote for somebody who's so morally reprehensible," said Moore, an exercise instructor.

The 2016 election will go down as one of the most vicious in modern history, as Clinton tried to paint Trump as a reckless bully and Trump belittled his rival as a corrupt insider who belonged behind bars.

But the election also served as vindication for Trump, a former reality TV star whose appeal was underestimated from the start.

While pundits assumed his poll numbers would sink as soon as voters started taking the race seriously, Trump was drawing thousands each night to rallies packed full of angry, largely white supporters who felt ignored and lied to by Washington.

While statistics showed the U.S. economy improving overall, it didn't feel that way in places like upstate New York, Pennsylvania's coal country and former manufacturing towns across the Midwest devastated by outsourcing and globalization. Chaos abroad only added to the feeling that the country was sliding backward.

Together, those factors drove a yearning to return to a simpler time when America was the world's undisputed superpower and middle-class wages were on the rise.

"We have our fingers in too many baskets," said Joe Hudson, 49, an engineer and registered Republican from Virginia Beach, Virginia, who said he would be voting for Trump because "we're not taking care of our own people."

"We're trying to be too involved in world politics. And our country is imploding from within," he said. "We need a new direction, a new attitude, and people to stop arguing and letting the media affect how we feel."

Trump's vow was simple: He'd "Make America Great Again." His outsider status, coupled with his personal business success, lent credibility to a populist message that emphasized recapturing manufacturing jobs, restoring American strength abroad and curtailing legal and illegal immigration.

Trump, early on, painted his supporters as a "movement" larger than himself.

"This isn't about me; it's about all of you and our magnificent movement to make America great again all over this country. And they're talking about it all over the world," he said at a rally in Miami last week during the race's furious final stretch.

"There has never been a movement like this in the history of our country — it's never happened. Even the pundits, even the ones that truly dislike Donald Trump, have said it's the single greatest phenomena they have ever seen."

But as he worked his base into a frenzy and locked down one primary win after the next, Trump was also repelling large swaths of the populace — including women, college-educated whites and minorities — with his deeply divisive rhetoric.

Trump launched his campaign with a speech that accused Mexico of sending rapists and other criminals across the border. He later questioned 2008 Republican nominee and former POW John McCain's status as a war hero, saying he preferred people who hadn't been captured. He mocked a disabled reporter. And he called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on" — a blanket religion test denounced by many as un-American.

After securing his party's nomination, Trump questioned a federal judge's ability to treat him fairly because of the judge's Hispanic origin, repeatedly insulted a Muslim-American family whose son had been killed in Iraq, and got into an extended spat with a former beauty queen, at one point instructing his millions of Twitter followers to "check out" her non-existent sex tape.

Again and again, Trump appeared poised to close the gap with Clinton, only to go off on a tangent that would send his poll numbers tumbling.

Then came the release of jarring old video footage from an "Access Hollywood" bus in which Trump bragged about being able to grope women because he was famous. The video's release was followed by a string of allegations from women who said Trump sexually harassed or assaulted them.

Trump denied the accusations, at one point threatening to sue the women.

But one October surprise was followed by another: a letter from the FBI director informing Congress that the bureau had found a new trove of emails potentially relevant to its investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server a secretary of state. While the FBI eventually announced that there was nothing in the emails to merit criminal prosecution, the damage appeared to have been done.

GOP Senate candidates fended off Democratic challengers in key states, including North Carolina, Indiana and Wisconsin. Republicans also maintained their grip on the House.

Senate control means Trump will have great leeway in appointing Supreme Court justices, which could mean a shift to the right that would last for decades.

Trump has pledged to usher in sweeping changes to U.S. foreign policy, including building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and suspending immigration from countries with terrorism ties. He's also praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and spoken of building a better relationship with Moscow, worrying some in his own party who fear he'll go easy on Putin's provocations.

Putin sent him a telegram of congratulations early Wednesday.

Trump upended years of political convention on his way to the White House, leveling harshly personal insults against his rivals, deeming Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers, and vowing to temporarily suspend Muslim immigration to the U.S. He never released his tax returns, breaking with decades of campaign tradition, and eschewed the kind of robust data and field efforts that helped Obama win two terms in the White House, relying instead on his large, free-wheeling rallies to energize supporters. His campaign was frequently in chaos, and he cycled through three campaign managers.

Conway, his final campaign manager, touted the team's accomplishments as the final results rolled in, writing on Twitter that "rally crowds matter" and "we expanded the map."

Clinton spent months warning voters that Trump was unfit and unqualified to be president. But the former senator and secretary of state struggled to articulate a clear rationale for her own candidacy.

She faced persistent questions about her honesty and trustworthiness. Those troubles flared anew late in the race, when FBI Director James Comey announced a review of new emails from her tenure at the State Department. On Sunday, just two days before Election Day, Comey said there was nothing in the material to warrant criminal charges against Clinton.

Trump will inherit an anxious nation, deeply divided by economic and educational opportunities, race and culture.

Exit polls underscored the fractures: Women nationwide supported Clinton by a double-digit margin, while men were significantly more likely to back Trump. More than half of white voters backed the Republican, while nearly 9 in 10 blacks and two-thirds of Hispanics voted for the Democrat.

Doug Ratliff, a 67-year-old businessman from Richlands, Virginia, said Trump's election was one of the happiest days of his life.

"This county has had no hope," said Ratliff, who owns strip malls in an area badly beaten by the collapse of the coal industry. "Things will change. I know he's not going to be perfect. But he's got a heart. And he gives people hope."

The Republican Party's tortured relationship with its nominee was evident right to the end. Former President George W. Bush and wife Laura Bush declined to back Trump, instead selecting "none of the above" when they voted for president, according to spokesman Freddy Ford.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a reluctant Trump supporter, called the businessman earlier in the evening to congratulate him, according to a Ryan spokeswoman. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the American people "have chosen a new direction for our nation."

Obama, who campaigned vigorously for Clinton throughout the fall and hoped his own rising popularity would lift her candidacy, was silent on Trump's victory, but he is expected to invite him to the White House this week. It will be a potentially awkward meeting with the man who pushed false rumors that the president might have been born outside the United States.

ELECTION NIGHT MINUTE-BY-MINUTE UPDATES:

2:05 a.m.

Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said Wednesday morning, "They're still counting votes...everybody should head home."

Clinton will not speak as she trails Trump.

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1:15 a.m.

NC governor's race: Cooper had 48.96 percent of votes after all precincts reported in, while McCrory had 48.87 percent.

With some cast votes yet to be reported, Cooper was only about 3,700 votes ahead of McCrory out of more than 4.6 million counted, according to totals posted by the State Board of Elections.

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12:55 a.m.

Democrat Roy Cooper has declared victory in North Carolina's governor's race.

Cooper came out shortly after Gov. Pat McCrory addressed supporters and said the race would be determined by a canvass of the state's 100 counties on Nov. 18.

As for Cooper, he thanked his supporters for their hard work and said he had won the governor's race.

Cooper said he is confident that the results of the election will be certified and that they will confirm victory.

With some cast votes yet to be reported, Cooper was only about 3,700 votes ahead of McCrory out of more than 4.6 million counted, according to totals posted by the State Board of Elections.

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12:26 a.m.

North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, locked in a tight race with Democrat Roy Cooper, told supporters that the election isn't over and that they need to respect the election system.

McCrory came out after midnight to talk to supporters as the latest figures showed he trailed Cooper by 3,700 votes.

The governor also alluded to voting troubles in Durham County, where a computer glitch led to extended voting hours. McCrory had appeared to be ahead late Tuesday. But that was before the results of ballots at five early-voting sites in Durham County had been reported to the state, according to State Board of Elections official Veronica Degraffenreid.

McCrory said the final result will depend on the county canvasses scheduled for Nov. 18.

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11:50 p.m.

Democrats have taken a majority on the North Carolina Supreme Court for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Mike Morgan on Tuesday defeated Associate Justice Bob Edmunds, who was seeking a third term. While Supreme Court races are officially nonpartisan, Morgan's election means four of the seven justices will be registered Democrats.

Morgan campaigned on his trial court experience and argued Edmunds had contributed to the Supreme Court's politicization. The Republican majority recently upheld GOP laws creating redistricting boundaries and allowing taxpayer-funded scholarships for children to attend private schools.

Edmunds disagreed with Morgan about the court's political tone and highlighted his bipartisan support from former chief justices and current sheriffs.

Outside groups spent millions on TV ads for the election.

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11:45 p.m.

Durham County results have uploaded.

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11:40 p.m.

2016 North Carolina votes have exceeded 2012's total votes cast (4,542,488) and still counting, state Board of Elections officials said.

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11:15 p.m.

Durham County has yet to upload roughly 93,000 early voting results, state Board of Elections officials said.

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11 p.m.

Republican Donald Trump has won a key victory in the Southern battleground state of North Carolina, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton in the state's presidential election.

Trump defeated Clinton on Tuesday in a general election that was widely seen as a referendum on several years of GOP control under Gov. Pat McCrory. It also was strongly influenced by a law limiting LGBT rights that was signed and defended by McCrory.

North Carolina's 15 electoral votes are considered crucial in the battle for the White House. The state has gone to a Democrat only once since Jimmy Carter's election in 1976, when Barack Obama narrowly won the state in 2008.

Trump and running mate Mike Pence frequently visited North Carolina in recent months, targeting rural areas where they enjoyed strong support.
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10:14 p.m.

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Burr has held off a challenge from Democrat Deborah Ross to retain his seat.

Burr repeatedly attacked Ross for her work as the former top attorney and lobbyist for the state American Civil Liberties Union in his bid for a third term.

Throughout her campaign, Ross tied the Republican senator to Donald Trump and to state GOP policies such as the law limiting protections for LGBT people.

Tuesday's race was considered critical for Democrats trying to regain control of the Senate. Ross was initially not well-known outside Raleigh, but outside money poured in as national Democrats increasingly saw Burr as vulnerable.

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10 p.m.

U.S. House Rep. District 9 Robert Pittenger reelected in North Carolina.

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8:45 p.m.

Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry has been elected to a seventh term in office in North Carolina's 10th Congressional District.

McHenry comfortably defeated Democrat Andy Millard.

McHenry is the chief deputy whip of the House and has been in Congress since 2005.

The 10th District starts just west of Charlotte and stretches across the southwestern part of the state to the mountains. It is predominantly Republican and has been represented by the GOP for more than four decades.

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8:45 p.m.

In Florida, with 91 percent of precincts reporting, just over 100,000 votes separate Trump and Clinton.

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8:41 p.m.

Republicans will retain control of the House, ABC News projects.

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8:09 p.m.

Donald Trump has won South Carolina.

The Republican nominee was awarded the state's nine electoral votes, giving him 40 for the night. The result was expected as the state has long been a Republican stronghold.

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8 p.m.

Democrat Alma Adams is returning to Congress for a second term to represent the radically redrawn 12th Congressional District.

Adams defeated Republican Leon Threatt to return to Washington to represent the new district that now covers most of Charlotte.

Adams was first elected in 2014 to represent a district that had been gerrymandered to represent a long, narrow district that stretched from Greensboro to Charlotte along Interstate 85. That district was declared unconstitutional by a federal court and resulted in the congressional district boundaries for the state having to be redrawn earlier this year.

The redrawn 12th District remains heavily Democratic, however.

7:35 p.m.

A judge is refusing to change the North Carolina Board of Elections decision to extend voting in eight Durham County precincts.

Judge Don Stephens rejected a bid to keep all polling places in heavily-Democratic Durham County open for 90 additional minutes.

The state board voted 3-2 on Tuesday to keep two Durham precincts open for an hour and six other precincts open a shorter amount of time. The problems were caused by a computer glitch that forced poll workers to use paper rolls to check in voters.

One precinct in Columbus County is staying open an extra 30 minutes for a similar problem.

Stephens says the state law allowing anyone in line to vote when the polls close is enough protection.

Polls closed in most of North Carolina at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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7 p.m.

The North Carolina Board of Elections has agreed to extend voting in eight precincts in Durham County.

The board voted 3-2 on Tuesday evening to extend voting by an hour in two precincts most heavily affected by a computer glitch that forced poll workers to check for registered voters on paper printouts. The board says six more precincts can stay open a shorter amount of time.

The NAACP asked for the eight precincts to stay open for 90 extra minutes.

Polls are set to close in the rest of North Carolina at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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6:55 p.m.

Hillary Clinton's campaign says she supports keeping the polls open later in Durham County because of voting problems.

In a statement, Clinton's campaign points out the two Republicans and one Democrat on the Durham County Board of Elections supported extending poll hours because problems stopped poll workers from checking in voters on computers.

The state Board of Elections is considering the request and an emergency hearing is being held in a lawsuit asking for extended poll hours in the county.

The polls are scheduled to close at 7:30 p.m. and anyone in line at that time will be able to vote.

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6:45 p.m.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted to extend voting for 30 minutes at one precinct in Columbus County.

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6:30 p.m.:

The Durham County Board of Elections voted to extend voting by 90 minutes in eight precincts. This vote must be approved by the state board of elections.

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6:10 p.m.

HB2: Sixty-six percent of North Carolina voters say they oppose the so-called “bathroom law,” while just 29 percent support it, ABC News reported Tuesday.

5:35 p.m.

Advocacy groups say they're suing to extend voting hours in Durham County by 90 minutes because of computer problems that resulted in a paper check-in process.

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice said in a news release that it filed a lawsuit on behalf of Democracy North Carolina requesting an emergency action from Wake County Superior Court. The groups want the court to order the State Board of Elections to keep Durham County polls open.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Don Stephens is expected to preside over the emergency hearing.

Meanwhile, the Durham County Board of Elections has asked state board to extend voting hours at one precinct, the Bethesda Ruritan Club. It also is gathering information for the state board about whether hours at other locations should be extended. The county board will then determine whether to request extended hours at any other polling location.

The computer problem resulted in at least one precinct running out of authorization-to-vote forms for about 90 minutes.

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5:10 p.m.

North Carolina's State Board of Elections is holding an emergency meeting to consider requests from Durham and other counties to extend voting hours.

The board said in a news release that the five members will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday to consider requests for extended hours. An earlier news release notes that Durham elections officials haven't reported significant wait times through most of the day.

Durham County spokeswoman Briana Khan says the county board sought permission Tuesday from the State Board of Elections to allow voting to continue until 9 p.m. in all 57 precincts rather than 7:30 p.m.

The request was made after a computer problem in some precincts resulted in elections officials relying on a paper check-in process. That resulted in at least one precinct and perhaps more running out of authorization-to-vote forms.

Polls in North Carolina opened at 6:30 a.m. and will close at 7:30 p.m. while in South Carolina they opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m.

More than 300,000 people -- most of the voters in the county -- have already cast their ballots in Mecklenburg County. That's a record number of early voters and election officials think we could see another 175,000 people vote Tuesday.

Early voting numbers came in early Tuesday morning, showing that nearly 1.3 million Democrats cast ballots compared to 990,000 Republicans and 810,000 Independents.

Poll workers started setting up voting machines on Monday to prepare for the rush. Lines are expected at most polling locations, especially during the peak morning and evening hours.

Election officials said they will have 195 polling locations open for 13 hours Tuesday, so they hope voters won't spend hours waiting in long lines, like many early voters did.

Many voters told Channel 9 it's worth the wait because their ballot could be the one to swing the balance in favor of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

"I wanted to be a part of history," said Erin Dugam.

More Vote 2016 Stories:

Overnight, each presidential candidate held one last rally.

Both candidates are heading into Election Day with complete confidence they will win, and the polls show a virtual tie between the two.

Clinton and Trump each made their rounds Monday through toss up states they need to win, including North Carolina.

Clinton spoke to thousands of supporters in Raleigh with her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Stars  Bon Jovi and Lady Gaga joined her there as well.

Trump ended his campaign in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he told thousands that he doesn't have stars like Bon Jovi, but rather, good ideas.

Both candidates continued to take jabs at one another.

"Real change also means restoring honesty to our government, so the first thing we should do -- let's get rid of Hillary, OK? That's probably, that would be a very good first step. That's a good first step," said Trump.

“We prove conclusively that yes, love trumps hate! Thank you, let's go vote North Carolina, God bless you,” Clinton told the crowd in Raleigh.

On Tuesday, Trump cast his ballot at a precinct in New York while Clinton voted in her hometown of Chappaqua, New York.

In North Carolina, the latest Quinnipiac poll shows Clinton leading Trump by just two points. The latest ABC News Washington Post tracking poll shows Clinton leading Trump 47 to 43 nationwide -- but that poll does lean left.

Trump and Clinton voted Tuesday before both candidates host election night parties in New York City, just miles from one another.

Race for North Carolina Senate seat

Tuesday’s election will determine which party holds a majority in the United States Senate.

Currently, Republicans hold a 54-46 majority.

The North Carolina race between Republican Sen. Richard Burr and challenger Deborah Ross is one of seven still considered toss-ups.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Burr and Ross tied at 47 percent.

NC governor race: McCrory vs. Cooper

Another major race Channel 9 is following will be the race for North Carolina governor.

Republican incumbent Pat McCrory made his final campaign stop in Raleigh on Monday. He spoke with volunteers who have been drumming up support for him.

"We feel very confident,” McCrory told Channel 9. “It's gonna be a very close election, but the early voting I think worked to our advantage with independent voters."

His opponent, Roy Cooper, was in Charlotte for a rally on Monday with Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine.

“We're going to have a North Carolina that is moving forward instead of backward and we're going to have a north carolina that is better than this,” said Cooper.

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Cooper leading McCrory 50 to 47, but that is within the 3 percent margin of error.

Channel 9 reporter Jim Bradley will be with McCrory's camp in Raleigh Tuesday night while reporter Mark Becker will be with Cooper, also in Raleigh.

Channel 9 will bring you live updates on Eyewitness News, as well as wsoctv.com and our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Charlotte bond referendums on the ballot

Charlotte city leaders want to remind voters that there are several important local issues also on the ballot Tuesday.

Three bond referendums would pour more than $200 million into the city's roads and neighborhoods.

City leaders say that one of the bonds could also allow for more affordable housing to be built, as the city is currently about 30,000 units short.

Those city leaders also say a vote for any or all of the bonds will not raise taxes.

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