In a stunning late surge in the early hours of Wednesday, insurgent Republican Donald Trump has amassed just enough voter support to push him through the door of the White House.
"I just received a call from secretary Clinton. She congratulated us on our victory and I congratulated her and her family on a very very hard fought campaign," Trump said as he began his acceptance speech.
"I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for everyone".
Global markets were in panic with the presidential election ending as a late-night cliffhanger - Trump was ahead by a single point in the popular vote and the contest for Electoral College votes was decided by late counting of votes in just three swing states – Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Hampshire.
The national mood seemingly had positioned a fractured Republican Party on the cusp of an utterly unexpected clean sweep – the White House and both houses of Congress.
And it didn't make sense – only hours earlier, the voters who might have just elected Trump as president, had been interviewed by exit pollsters, with more than 60 per cent of them rating Trump as unqualified for the White House. And the US was set to transition power from its first black president to a candidate endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.
Just as in Europe, the US has been engulfed by a tide of populist nationalism, that the election has revealed to have risen more sharply that was previously understood, with disaffected whites angrily venting at their modern multicultural societies, believing their personal and national power and prestige, political and cultural, are in decline.
Clinton's "stronger together" didn't make the cut. Instead they have plumbed for the inherent ugliness Trumpism which, reduced to a single line, calls white American to stick with Trump, for protection against job-stealers and terrorists among the black and brown "other" communities.
Chants of "lock her up" broke out at Trump's newest hotel, the old post office in Washington, as he claimed North Carolina. City crowds in New York seemed to be in a state of zombie-like shock. And a joker at Trump's private party in Manhattan reportedly interrupted whispered conversations about whether Trump really would attempt to jail Clinton, to ask what size prison jumpsuit she would wear.
And after all Americans' chuckling at the expense of Britain in the wake of its nationalist, nativist Brexit vote, the US can now fully expect the same treatment from much of the international community. And foreign capitals will be left to wonder where they, and Washington stand in the world – on complex issues ranging from NATO to the Syria-Iraq crisis to nuclear proliferation. Perhaps chuckling most overnight will have been Vladimir Putin.
At 9.11pm in New York it became clear this would not be the Clinton cakewalk inferred by the last pre-election polls. Her chances of winning, as calculated by The New York Times, were sliding precipitously, down from 84 per cent at the start of the night to 68 per cent … 10 minutes later, down to 59 per cent; and 10 minutes later again, Trump quite suddenly had a better chance of winning – 51-49.
All expectations of an early result faded and the talk was of markets taking a hit like they did after the September 11 attacks. Hedge fund managers who, till about then, had factored a Clinton win into their market calculus were badgering political analysts and Bridgewater Associates, purportedly the world's biggest hedge fund, predicted market chaos – maybe as much as 2000 points off the Dow when markets opened on Wednesday.
As the count continued, the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures plunged 800 points; Japan's Nikkei Index was off 2.5 per cent and the Mexican peso went off a cliff – to a 22-year low.
Suddenly, analysts were speaking in terms of Clinton being lucky if she could still "eke" out a win – in which case her punishment would be enough of a win for Trumpism to guarantee political survival for its architect.
After three hours of counting a new snapshot of America was emerging – less-educated white voters, about 40 per cent of the electorate, were voting en-bloc for the GOP, robbing the Democratic Party of a chunk of their white working class ballast and leaving it more a party of minorities in a country divided by race and class, by opportunity and power.
Trump seemingly was riding the revenge of the white working class, the true recipients of his promise to make America great again, in a nation that no longer knew its other parts.
And the air beneath his wings came from surprise modelling miscalculations by the Clinton machine and most independent pollsters; and the emergence of what we were told didn't exist – a game-changing army of "shy" or Brexit-like Trump voters.
It was a night like the running of the bulls in Pamplona – and Trump was ahead of the herd and running faster than Clinton.
How the votes were counted. The candidates needed 270 of 538 electoral votes to win.
Electoral votes: 276 (preliminary result)
Electoral votes: 218 (preliminary result)