Controversial Republican candidate Donald Trump has defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and will become the 45th US president after a stunning victory thus ending eight years of Democratic rule and setting the United States on a new, uncertain path.
The Republican nominee’s victory came down to a handful of key swing states, despite months of polling that favoured Mrs Clinton.
The battlegrounds of Florida, Ohio and North Carolina cleared the way for the upset.
Mr Trump’s shock victory in Wisconsin put him over the 270 out of 538 electoral college votes needed to win the White House, after a gruelling and rancorous campaign.
The US president-elect took to the stage with his family at his victory rally in a New York hotel ballroom and said:
“I just received a call from Secretary Clinton. She congratulated us on our victory.
“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.”
He added: “It is time for us to come together as one united people.”
The real estate tycoon, former reality TV star and political newcomer, who was universally ridiculed when he declared his candidacy in June last year, said his victory had been ‘tough‘.
Mr Trump has so far won 28 US states, smashing into Mrs Clinton’s vaunted electoral firewall in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states that have not supported a Republican presidential candidate since 1988 and 1984 respectively.
He also prevailed in Iowa, which has not elected a Republican since 2004.
Mr Trump held on to solidly Republican territory, including in Georgia, Arizona and Utah, where the Clinton campaign had invested resources in the hope of flipping the states.
Mr Trump will take office in January with Congress fully under Republican control as Democrats were unable to wrest control of the Senate in Tuesday’s general election.
Mrs Clinton, 69, has only notched up victories in 18 US states and the District of Columbia.
New Hampshire and Michigan – which had also been expected to fall in the Clinton column – remained too close to call as of Wednesday (today) morning.
The Democratic candidate, who dreamed of becoming the first female US president, did not show up for what was meant to be her victory rally across town in Manhattan.
The mood was dark at her election night party in the Javits Center, as supporters wept and left early.
At Trump headquarters earlier, his fans cheered and chanted about the Democratic nominee: ‘Lock her up!’
Male voters were much more likely to back Mr Trump, while women backed Mrs Clinton by a double-digit margin.
Nearly nine in 10 black voters and two-thirds of Latinos voted for the Democrat, but more than half of white voters backed the Republican.
Mr Trump, a populist billionaire, provoked controversy on the campaign trail for comments about women, Muslims and a plan to build a wall along the US-Mexican border.
Soon after he was declared winner, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, a known pal of Mr Trump did congratulate him and said he hoped for a repair of the frosty US-Russia relations.
Meanwhile, global markets plummeted, with the US dollar diving and gold prices surging as a result.