Donald Trump will win the key state of Ohio, CNN projects, a key victory as he and Hillary Clinton wage an epic battle for swing states that will decide the race for the presidency.
The Ohio victory is especially important for Trump, as no Republican has won the White House without taking the Buckeye State. That result and his strong position in Florida make it increasingly possible Trump has a path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win.
But Clinton pulled out a desperately needed win in Virginia, even as she faces a much stronger than expected challenge from Trump in Michigan and Wisconsin. Those Midwestern states form the bedrock of her Democratic firewall.
The mood in the Clinton campaign has shifted dramatically as they frantically try to understand what’s happening in Florida. A senior adviser conceded the campaign’s modeling was off, but still believed Clinton has enough votes still out to take the state.
The prospect of a Trump win quickly sent global markets tumbling, amid fears his vow to ditch global trade deals and brand China a currency manipulator would spark global economic shocks. Dow futures plummeted 500 points, or almost 3%, Wednesday night. Major indexes in Asia are falling by similar amounts.
So far, Trump has won 19 states, including Texas. Clinton has come out on top in New York and 11 other states along with the District of Columbia. Trump has 167 electoral votes compared to 122 electoral votes for Clinton, according to CNN projections.
Regardless of who prevails, history will be made as Americans elect either their first woman president or side with the ultimate political outsider.
Both candidates argue the election presents an unusually significant choice for a divided nation. Democrats warn that Trump, with his rhetoric on race, gender and immigration, would represent a rejection of core American values. Trump insists his campaign represents America’s last chance to drive out a corrupt political establishment that has turned its back on hard-working Americans.
New York is the center of the political universe this Election Day. This is the first campaign since 1944 in which both candidates are from the Empire State. And their election night parties are being held a mile and a half apart in Manhattan.
Route to 270
Clinton appears to have the easier route through the electoral map to the 270 votes needed to win the presidency. She is counting on minority voters and highly-educated white women to take her to victory. Trump is hoping a huge turnout from his less well-educated, less diverse coalition will defy pollsters who give Clinton a small but steady lead nationally and are projecting tight races in some swing states.
At her last rally, past midnight in North Carolina, Clinton capped her campaign with the words “Love trumps hate.”
Trump took to Fox News on Tuesday morning to declare he was confident about the outcome.
“We’re going to win a lot of states. Who knows what happens, ultimately, but we’re going to win,” he said. The GOP nominee also took aim at polls showing that Clinton has the advantage.
“I think a lot of polls are purposely wrong. The media is extremely dishonest and I think a lot of polls are phony. I don’t think they interview people. I think they put out phony numbers,” Trump said on “Fox & Friends.”
Trump also appeared to be laying the groundwork for a legal challenge in the event of a close race. His campaign sued Clark County officials over an alleged decision to keep early voting polling stations open two extra hours. The lawsuit targets the greater Las Vegas area, which has large minority precincts.
A judge later denied Trump’s request.
The GOP nominee sent conflicting signals about his willingness to accept the result if he loses, telling News Radio 610 WTVN in Ohio that he would see what happens.
“You hear so many horrible stories and you see so many things that are wrong. So we’ll take a look. Certainly, I love this country and I believe in the system, you understand that,” he said.
Casting their ballots
The Republican nominee cast his ballot near Trump Tower in New York City and was met with cheers and boos outside the polling station. Clinton voted at a school near her home in Chappaqua, New York, with former President Bill Clinton.
“It is the most humbling feeling … because I know how much responsibility goes with this and so many people are counting on the outcome of this election, what it means for our country and (I) will do the very best if I am fortunate enough to win today,” Clinton told CNN’s Dan Merica.
The Democratic nominee must hang onto traditionally Democratic states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, exploit her advantage among minorities and highly educated voters to win states like Virginia, Colorado and Nevada, and pick off several swing states where she is locked in a tough race with Trump.
Trump likely will need North Carolina, Florida and Ohio, all of which are races recent polls showed as within the margin of error. And then he must make an almost perfect run through battleground states such as New Hampshire and Iowa. Even then, he will likely have to find a way to snatch away a state from Clinton’s firewall. If he fails to take North Carolina or Florida, he will need Rust Belt wins from Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Battle for Congress
The presidential election is not the only close race Tuesday. Democrats are battling to grab back the Senate from Republicans and scored their first pickup when war veteran Tammy Duckworth won her race against Republican Sen. Mark Kirk in Illinois.
Democrats need a net gain of five seats to recapture the Senate. If Clinton wins the presidency, four pickups would be enough to allow her vice president, Tim Kaine, to cast the deciding vote in an evenly split chamber.
In the first significant Senate result of the night, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman won re-election, defeating former Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat.
The GOP, meanwhile, will hold onto the House of Representatives.