Editors's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the version that appeared in our weekly print edition.
Republicans reclaimed the White House on Tuesday as Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton in a neck-and-neck race that defied expectations on both sides of the political spectrum.
Trump’s path to the presidency became clearer after his victory in Ohio was confirmed around 10:45 p.m., closely followed by a win in Florida declared at approximately 11:30 p.m., propelling him comfortably ahead of Clinton in the Electoral College.
Trump had 279 electoral votes Wednesday morning as of 2:35 a.m., compared to Clinton’s 218, according to The New York Times.
In Ohio, Trump won 52.1 percent of the vote, compared to Clinton's 43.5 percent. In Athens County, Trump received 38.7 percent of the vote while Clinton received 55.7 percent.
During his acceptance speech in New York City, Trump thanked his supporters and called for the country to “bind the wounds of division” after the contentious race.
“I’ve gotten to know our country so well, tremendous potential,” he said. “Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her potential. The forgotten men and women of our country will no longer be forgotten.”
The candidate Ohio picked for the presidency also won the election overall, as the state has done for all but two of the last 31 presidential elections since 1896.
Ohio has often been considered a bellwether for presidential elections, as no Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio, Dan Birdsong, a political science professor at the University of Dayton who researches Ohio politics, said. No Democrat has won the White House without Ohio since 1960, either.
“We’re unique in the fact that we’re very competitive,” Birdsong said. “We have voted for both candidates' parties over the last six elections, and it just happened to be that we voted for the winner in the last six.”
Clinton conceded the election to Trump over the phone and did not address her supporters, who were waiting at an election night party in New York City.
Though he lost the county, some Trump supporters in Athens see the win as a chance for change in the nation’s capital.
“I think people are angry. They’re not happy with Washington, they want some changes and when he stays on message and hits on the issues like the economy, tax structures and illegal immigration, people are responding,” Pete Couladis, chair of the Athens County Republican Party, said.
A Contentious Election
Clinton, who first ran for president in 2008, emphasized her gender and the possibility of a historic presidency throughout her nearly 18-month campaign.
“Gender was so central to this election,” Katherine Jellison, a professor in and a chairperson of OU’s history professor and former president of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Athens County, said. “You had the Republican candidate who had this very hyper-masculine, macho persona and then the Democratic candidate who was a woman.”
It may also have been gender, Jellison said, that caused greater scrutiny for Clinton, who was interviewed by the FBI this year after it was discovered she used a private email server while serving as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama from 2008 to 2012.
Trump was not immune from scrutiny himself, as several news outlets uncovered potentially damaging information about the businessman in the last few months of the election.
In October, The New York Times acquired copies of Trump’s 1995 tax returns after he refused to release his current forms — a first for a major presidential candidate. The investigation showed Trump could have legally avoided paying federal income tax for nearly two decades.
Then, a week later, leaked audio from a 2005 appearance on Access Hollywood showed Trump bragging about kissing and groping women because of his fame. Following the leak, many prominent Republican leaders around the country, including Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, renounced their endorsement of their party’s nominee.
How it played out in Ohio
The leak was just one factor that divided local and state leaders on Trump. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who won the state’s primary election, refused to support the Republican nominee and instead wrote in 2008 Republican presidential candidate, Arizona Sen. John McCain, on his ballot.
National and state tensions trickled into Athens as well, as students and residents found themselves divided between the two presidential candidates. Much of the political tension on campus manifested itself onto the graffiti wall near Bentley Hall, where messages both for and against Trump started appearing in April.
“I definitely think that no one was expecting this campaign to be as crazy as it was,” Sam Miller, president of the OU College Democrats, said. “We weren't expecting Donald Trump to make it this far and a lot of people weren’t expecting Hillary to win the Democratic nomination. A lot of people in Athens wanted Bernie (Sanders).”
The general dissatisfaction with this year’s election and the two major candidates has left many voters skeptical of what a Trump presidency may look like.
“I think in order for him to have credibility and function as our next president, he would have to start surrounding himself with people who have more experience in governing,” Jellison said.
In July, Trump alluded to the fact that he would delegate domestic and foreign policy to his vice president, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
“I think Trump’s presidency would likely be like Richard Nixon’s. He has a penchant for drawing up 'enemies lists' and fantasizing about revenging people," Kevin Mattson, an OU history professor said. "I think you’d see a presidency that evaded the press, was authoritarian, and likely scattered in its direction (like his 3 a.m. tweets).”
Couladis said he was surprised to see Trump had won and advised that Trump needed to “pull everyone together.”
“He can’t rant and rave like he did at the start of the campaign,” he said. “He’s got to reach out and put a team together, come up with an agenda, what the issues are. Congress has to be involved with this, because it’s a team effort. He has to work with them.