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President-Elect Trump Upsets Clinton's White House Bid

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This country has had 44 presidents. Each had either served in public office or in the military before being elected.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

That changed last night. Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States. Over this loud and long campaign, he tapped into the anger many Americans feel towards the political establishment.

MONTAGNE: It was a victory few pollsters saw coming, and it was a stunning defeat for Hillary Clinton, who had hoped to become the nation's first female president and carry on the legacy of President Obama.

GREENE: As more and more states were called for Donald Trump last night, the mood at his campaign headquarters grew more jubilant. The mood at Hillary Clinton's grew more somber.

MONTAGNE: Clinton campaign manager chairman John Podesta was the one to come out and speak, rather than the candidate herself.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN PODESTA: I want you to know - I want every person in this hall to know, and I want every person across the country who supported Hillary to know that your voices and your enthusiasm mean so much to her and to Tim and to all of us. We are so proud of you.

(APPLAUSE)

PODESTA: And we are so proud of her. She's done an amazing job, and she is not done yet.

MONTAGNE: But that was when there was still a slim chance she could prevail. It quickly became clear that it was wishful thinking for Clinton's campaign.

GREENE: And soon after, Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump to concede, and the president-elect came out on stage in Manhattan.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: I've just received a call from Secretary Clinton.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: She congratulated us - it's about us - on our victory. And I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard-fought campaign. I mean, she - she fought very hard.

MONTAGNE: And joining us now is NPR's lead political editor Domenico Montanaro and NPR campaign reporter Scott Detrow. Good morning.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Good morning. I think that's what it is.

MONTAGNE: I think.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: Have you slept?

MONTANARO: No.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: No.

MONTAGNE: You've been up all night, perhaps, yeah.

DETROW: I technically went to sleep, but not really. So I'll say it's morning for me, at least.

MONTANARO: Really? Oh.

DETROW: Yeah.

MONTANARO: OK.

MONTAGNE: OK, well, a completely - an historic morning in America. And let's start with you, Domenico.

MONTANARO: Sure.

MONTAGNE: Walk us through the map. How did Trump pull off what everyone agrees - pretty much everyone - was a surprise win? And what did Clinton do that was not to her advantage?

MONTANARO: Well, look, you know, we'd coming in and you'd heard me say repeatedly that there was this blue wall that if Democrats held the states that had gone in each of the last six presidential elections for Hillary Clinton, 18 of those states added up to 242 electoral votes. For Republicans, there were only - there were 22 states that added up to 180 that they'd won in the last four presidential elections. Donald Trump took a sledgehammer to that upper-Midwestern part of that wall.

He - he took off Wisconsin, which was a major chip in that block, Pennsylvania, which was shocking, frankly, through the night, where it looked like Hillary Clinton had the advantage there. And Michigan, which technically hasn't been called yet, Donald Trump has the lead. He won Ohio. He won Iowa. I had said Donald Trump had to win everything. He had to win all the toss-ups, and he did.

MONTAGNE: He did. Solid win in the Electoral College. Where do things stand with the popular vote?

MONTANARO: The popular vote's really interesting because, right now, it's - it's very narrow. And Hillary Clinton stands a chance, anyway, of possibly winning the popular vote. About 79, almost 80 percent of the vote is in in California, but still quite a bit out. And Hillary Clinton is down about 324,000 votes overall - 47.7 to 47.5, so fairly close and the chance that Hillary Clinton actually wins the popular vote.

GREENE: Which would put President Trump in an interesting position if he came into office with having lost the popular vote, won the Electoral College heat. He did offer a message of unity last night. Scott Detrow, you were there. He also had a very different tone towards Hillary Clinton than we had heard before - much softer. I mean, there have been calls for her to go to prison. He had called her crooked Hillary during most of the campaign.

DETROW: Absolutely. I mean, Donald Trump last night really did praise Hillary Clinton. I mean, this was a brutal campaign. Trump viciously attacked Clinton day in, day out. I think the one moment a lot of voters will remember is in the second debate when he said that, under a Trump administration, Hillary Clinton would be in jail. That is not the tone you heard from President-elect Trump Tuesday night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely.

(APPLAUSE)

DETROW: You know, for Trump, this was a welcoming speech. He said he wants to be a president for all Americans, even those who didn't support him. He said it's time for us to come together as one united people. But there are many people all over America, particularly minority groups, who really felt threatened by Trump's rhetoric and the things he talked about doing over the course of his campaign.

MONTAGNE: And, Scott, what have we heard from the Clinton team?

DETROW: Not much at all. The Clinton campaign kind of went radio silent as the night got worse and worse for them. We did hear that - that brief appearance from John Podesta, the campaign chairman. Of course, after he spoke, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin went to Trump, and that was it for Trump.

The Clinton campaign did confirm that Clinton did call Trump to concede, as Trump said she did. And they're also saying we expect to hear from Hillary Clinton at some point this morning. But at this point in time, we don't have any more details.

GREENE: Because, Scott, it almost sounded like, when John Podesta came out, that the Clinton team might be looking at possibilities of recounts or keeping this going. I mean, that changed very quickly.

DETROW: It did change very quickly. In fact, that - that speech from Podesta kind of reminded me of in 2004 when John Edwards came out late in the night and said something very similar.

GREENE: Yeah.

DETROW: You know, and there - they were saying votes to be counted. It's worth pointing out in all these states that - that Trump blew up that - that blue Democratic wall, like Domenico was saying, it's about a point difference or less. So I think they felt like they could - they could make it happen with cities coming in. And then it became clear that the votes just weren't there.

GREENE: Domenico, let me finish with a question a lot of minds this morning. How in the world did pollsters get this so wrong?

MONTANARO: You know, I have a theory on this, and we'll see what the - what actually happens. But, you know, you have seen - I've seen over a decade, at least, where, you know, the mainstream media has been - really had the carpet taken out from under it, especially with Republicans. And there's a huge level of distrust. Think about the voters who Donald Trump has - has turned out - you know, blue collar voters who had severe distrust of the media, distrust of institutions.

There's the possibility that when all these pollsters called and they identified themselves as being from that big media organization that they didn't pick up the phone or they didn't want to talk to them or they kept that - hung up that phone. Now, that's usually what happens in our - after big breaking news events, why you often don't want to poll, you know, that - within a week or so of that big news event because it's artificially inflated. That is possibly - possibly one theory of what went wrong.

MONTAGNE: OK, that's NPR's lead political editor, Domenico Montanaro, and NPR campaign reporter Scott Detrow. Thanks, both of you.

MONTANARO: Sure thing.

DETROW: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.