November 9, 2016 5:20 pm JST

Trump wins US presidency in stunning upset

HIROYUKI NISHIMURA, Nikkei deputy editor

NEW YORK -- Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States, as the Republican billionaire pulled off a stunning upset in one of the most bitter elections in memory, edging past Democratic contender Hillary Clinton in key battleground states.

Clinton lost in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- three states that President Barack Obama had won in 2012. She took Virginia, Colorado and California but the close call in Virginia -- won by less than two percentage points -- indicated early on how Trump appealed to a deeply divided electorate. Clinton reportedly called Trump on Wednesday morning to concede.

Clinton, a former secretary of state and first lady, had hoped to be the first woman elected as president.

The outcome shook markets across Asia where the prospect of a Trump presidency was expected to have serious trade and security ramifications. Trump upended the U.S political system, in part, by pursuing an unconventional media strategy and talking directly to his supporters.

Trump consistently campaigned on the idea that "the system" was rigged. Masahiko Adachi, a senior analyst from think tank Sumitomo Corporation Global Research, said: "Traditional media almost uniformly endorsed Hillary Clinton but that had almost no meaning. It shows that people cared much more about a tweet by Donald Trump than what a traditional media organization might say."

Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. Economist at Capital Economics said: "This is very much a step into the unknown because we simply can't know what type of President Trump will be. Will he be the demagogue from the campaign trail, who threatened to lock up his political opponents, punish the media, build border walls and start a global trade war? Or is he capable of becoming a statesmanlike figure who leads in a more measured manner?"

The strength and breadth of Trump support was surprising. As of Nov. 8, Clinton was leading Trump 46.8 to 43.6 in the national polling average, compiled by Real Clear Politics. This compared with Clinton's 7-point lead over Trump in early August.

Clinton's advantage narrowed after the FBI announced on Oct. 28 that it had opened a new investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server for official correspondence, during her state department tenure, because of the discovery of new emails possibly related to the case.

By Nov. 6, FBI director James Comey sent a letter to Congress indicating that he was affirming an earlier conclusion -- that Clinton should not be prosecuted based on the emails.

It is unclear the impact of the FBI action. This presidential contest was fiercely contested and, at time, deeply personal. 

The market perceived a Clinton advantage in the last few days. Share prices had been on an upward trend after the FBI again cleared Clinton. U.S. markets ended election-day trading with an upbeat tone as the Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked up 0.4%.

The Mexican peso, seen as an inverse barometer of Trump's odds for winning the election, also gained. Markets had tumbled toward the end of the last week as participants contemplated the prospects of a Trump victory.

Among the issues of greatest concern to Asian markets are trade, currency fluctuations, immigration and, most importantly, America's commitment to the region.

Already the election campaign has called into question President Barack Obama's "pivot" to Asia, as both Trump and Clinton have stood against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The free trade pact, which was meant to be the Obama administration's crowning economic achievement, was signed by 11 countries in February but has not been ratified by the U.S. Congress.

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