Millions of Americans cast votes on Tuesday in a contentious presidential election between two polarizing candidates that split much of America into warring camps.
Initial results from polls that closed at 7pm gave Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a victory in Vermont, and Republican nominee Donald Trump claimed wins in Kentucky and Indiana. Those three states finished as election watchers expected them to.
Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia, however, were too close to call. Trump will have little chance of winning the White House without Georgia – and that they are too close to call could be good news for him.
The endgame in Florida, the biggest prize among the early poll-closing states – and another must-win for the brash Republican – won’t likely be known for at least an hour, and could be decided by an extraordinarily tight margin.
Early projections making the rounds online and republished by the Drudge Report news website suggest that 140 million voters are participating, a new record, far exceeding the 131.4 million total in 2008.
First-time voters, in particular, are fueling the massive increase. That group is swinging toward Clinton by a 55-37 margin, according to Fox News Channel exit polls. Trump’s campaign built its momentum in part on the promise of bringing a ‘silent majority’ out of the woodwork.
The election will likely turn on vote totals in just 12 of America’s 50 states, whose polls will close a few at a time, hour by hour.
Results from Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania will be watched most closely.
Donald Trump has also boasted that he could flip Michigan and Minnesota, two traditionally left-leaning states, into the Republican column on the strength of an appeal to working-class voters whose jobs have disappeared since President Barack Obama took office.