2016 United States presidential election
The 2016 United States presidential election was the 58th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. The Republican ticket of businessman Donald Trump and Indiana governor Mike Pence defeated the Democratic ticket of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and U.S. senator from Virginia Tim Kaine. Trump took office as the 45th president, and Pence as the 48th vice president, on January 20, 2017. It was the fifth and most recent presidential election in which the winning candidate lost the popular vote.
Trump emerged as his party's front-runner amidst a wide field of Republican primary candidates defeating Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio, and Ohio Governor John Kasich among other candidates. Clinton defeated Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary and became the first female presidential nominee of a major American party. Trump's populist nationalist campaign, which promised to "Make America Great Again", opposed political correctness, illegal immigration, and many free-trade agreements garnered extensive free media coverage due to Trump's inflammatory comments. Clinton emphasized her extensive political experience, and extremists, and advocated the expansion of President Obama's policies; racial, LGBT, and women's rights; and inclusive capitalism.
The tone of the general election campaign was widely characterized as divisive and negative. Trump faced controversy over his views on race and immigration, incidents of violence against protestors at his rallies, and numerous sexual misconduct allegations including the Access Hollywood tape. Clinton's popularity and public image was damaged by concerns about her ethics and trustworthiness, and an FBI investigation of her improper use of a private email server, which received more media coverage than any other topic during the campaign.
Clinton led in nearly every pre-election nationwide poll and in most swing state polls, leading some comparisons of Trump's victory to that of Harry S. Truman in 1948 as one of the greatest political upsets in modern U.S. history. While Clinton received 2.87 million more votes than Trump did, Trump received the majority in the Electoral College and won upset victories in the pivotal Rust Belt region. Ultimately, Trump received 304 electoral votes and Clinton 227, as . Trump is the first .
The U.S. government's intelligence agencies concluded on January 6, 2017, that the  in order to "undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency." A Special Counsel investigation of alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign began in May 2017 and ended in March 2019. The investigation concluded that Russian interference to favor Trump's candidacy occurred "in sweeping and systematic fashion", but "did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government."
Article Two of the United States Constitution provides that the President and Vice President of the United States must be natural-born citizens of the United States, at least 35 years old, and residents of the United States for a period of at least 14 years. Candidates for the presidency typically seek the nomination of one of the political parties, in which case each party devises a method (such as a primary election) to choose the candidate the party deems best suited to run for the position. Traditionally, the primary elections are indirect elections where voters cast ballots for a slate of party delegates pledged to a particular candidate. The party's delegates then officially nominate a candidate to run on the party's behalf. The general election in November is also an indirect election, where voters cast ballots for a slate of members of the Electoral College; these electors in turn directly elect the president and vice president.
President Barack Obama, a Democrat and former U.S. senator from Illinois, was ineligible to seek reelection to a third term due to the restrictions of the Twenty-second Amendment; in accordance with Section 1 of the Twentieth Amendment, his term expired at noon eastern standard time on January 20, 2017.
Both the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as third parties such as the Green and Libertarian parties, held a series of presidential primary elections and caucuses that took place between February and June 2016, staggered among the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. This nominating process was also an indirect election, where voters cast ballots for a slate of delegates to a political party's nominating convention, who in turn elected their party's presidential nominee.
Speculation about the 2016 campaign began almost immediately following the 2012 campaign, with New York magazine declaring that the race had begun in an article published on November 8, two days after the 2012 election. On the same day, Politico released an article predicting that the 2016 general election would be between Clinton and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, while an article in The New York Times named New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey as potential candidates.
With seventeen major candidates entering the race, starting with Ted Cruz on March 23, 2015, this was the largest presidential primary field for any political party in American history, before being overtaken by the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries.
Prior to the Iowa caucuses on February 1, 2016, Perry, Walker, Jindal, Graham, and Pataki withdrew due to low polling numbers. Despite leading many polls in Iowa, Trump came in second to Cruz, after which Huckabee, Paul, and Santorum withdrew due to poor performances at the ballot box. Following a sizable victory for Trump in the New Hampshire primary, Christie, Fiorina, and Gilmore abandoned the race. Bush followed suit after scoring fourth place to Trump, Rubio, and Cruz in South Carolina. On March 1, 2016, the first of four "Super Tuesday" primaries, Rubio won his first contest in Minnesota, Cruz won Alaska, Oklahoma, and his home state of Texas, and Trump won the other seven states that voted. Failing to gain traction, Carson suspended his campaign a few days later. On March 15, 2016, the second "Super Tuesday", Kasich won his only contest in his home state of Ohio, and Trump won five primaries including Florida. Rubio suspended his campaign after losing his home state.
Between March 16 and May 3, 2016, only three candidates remained in the race: Trump, Cruz, and Kasich. Cruz won the most delegates in four Western contests and in Wisconsin, keeping a credible path to denying Trump the nomination on the first ballot with 1,237 delegates. Trump then augmented his lead by scoring landslide victories in New York and five Northeastern states in April, followed by a decisive victory in Indiana on May 3, 2016, securing all 57 of the state's delegates. Without any further chances of forcing a contested convention, both Cruz and Kasich suspended their campaigns. Trump remained the only active candidate and was declared the presumptive Republican nominee by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus on the evening of May 3, 2016.
A 2018 study found that media coverage of Trump led to increased public support for him during the primaries. The study showed that Trump received nearly $2 billion in free media, more than double any other candidate. Political scientist John Sides argued that Trump's polling surge was "almost certainly" due to frequent media coverage of his campaign. Sides concluded "Trump is surging in the polls because the news media has consistently focused on him since he announced his candidacy on June 16." Prior to clinching the Republican nomination, Trump received little support from establishment Republicans.
Major candidates were determined by the various media based on common consensus. The following were invited to sanctioned televised debates based on their poll ratings.
Trump received 14,010,177 total votes in the primary. Trump, Cruz, Rubio and Kasich each won at least one primary, with Trump receiving the highest number of votes and Ted Cruz receiving the second highest.
Trump turned his attention towards selecting a running mate after he became the presumptive nominee on May 4, 2016. In mid-June, Eli Stokols and Burgess Everett of Politico reported that the Trump campaign was considering New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich from Georgia, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. A June 30 report from The Washington Post also included Senators Bob Corker from Tennessee, Richard Burr from North Carolina, Tom Cotton from Arkansas, Joni Ernst from Iowa, and Indiana governor Mike Pence as individuals still being considered for the ticket. Trump also said he was considering two military generals for the position, including retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn.
In July 2016, it was reported that Trump had narrowed his list of possible running mates down to three: Christie, Gingrich, and Pence.
On July 14, 2016, several major media outlets reported that Trump had selected Pence as his running mate. Trump confirmed these reports in a message Twitter on July 15, 2016, and formally made the announcement the following day in New York. On July 19, the second night of the 2016 Republican National Convention, Pence won the Republican vice presidential nomination by acclamation.
Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who also served in the U.S. Senate and was the First Lady of the United States, became the first Democrat in the field to formally launch a major candidacy for the presidency with an announcement on April 12, 2015, via a video message. While nationwide opinion polls in 2015 indicated that Clinton was the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, she faced strong challenges from Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who became the second major candidate when he formally announced on April 30, 2015, that he was running for the Democratic nomination. September 2015 polling numbers indicated a narrowing gap between Clinton and Sanders. On May 30, 2015, former Governor of Maryland Martin O'Malley was the third major candidate to enter the Democratic primary race, followed by former independent governor and Republican senator of Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee on June 3, 2015, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb on July 2, 2015, and former Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig on September 6, 2015.
On October 20, 2015, Webb announced his withdrawal from the primaries, and explored a potential Independent run. The next day Vice-President Joe Biden decided not to run, ending months of speculation, stating, "While I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent." On October 23, Chafee withdrew, stating that he hoped for "an end to the endless wars and the beginning of a new era for the United States and humanity." On November 2, after failing to qualify for the second DNC-sanctioned debate after adoption of a rule change negated polls which before might have necessitated his inclusion in the debate, Lessig withdrew as well, narrowing the field to Clinton, O'Malley, and Sanders.
On February 1, 2016, in an extremely close contest, Clinton won the Iowa caucuses by a margin of 0.2 points over Sanders. After winning no delegates in Iowa, O'Malley withdrew from the presidential race that day. On February 9, Sanders bounced back to win the New Hampshire primary with 60% of the vote. In the remaining two February contests, Clinton won the Nevada caucuses with 53% of the vote and scored a decisive victory in the South Carolina primary with 73% of the vote. On March 1, 11 states participated in the first of four "Super Tuesday" primaries. Clinton won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia and 504 pledged delegates, while Sanders won Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and his home state of Vermont and 340 delegates. The following weekend, Sanders won victories in Kansas, Nebraska, and Maine with 15- to 30-point margins, while Clinton won the Louisiana primary with 71% of the vote. On March 8, despite never having a lead in the Michigan primary, Sanders won by a small margin of 1.5 points and outperforming polls by over 19 points, while Clinton won 83% of the vote in Mississippi. On March 15, the second "Super Tuesday", Clinton won in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio. Between March 22 and April 9, Sanders won six caucuses in Idaho, Utah, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, and Wyoming, as well as the Wisconsin primary, while Clinton won the Arizona primary. On April 19, Clinton won the New York primary with 58% of the vote. On April 26, in the third "Super Tuesday" dubbed the "Acela primary", she won contests in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, while Sanders won in Rhode Island. Over the course of May, Sanders accomplished another surprise win in the Indiana primary and also won in West Virginia and Oregon, while Clinton won the Guam caucus and Kentucky primary (and also non-binding primaries in Nebraska and Washington).
On June 4 and 5, Clinton won two victories in the Virgin Islands caucus and Puerto Rico primary. On June 6, 2016, the Associated Press and NBC News reported that Clinton had become the presumptive nominee after reaching the required number of delegates, including pledged delegates and superdelegates, to secure the nomination, becoming the first woman to ever clinch the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. On June 7, Clinton secured a majority of pledged delegates after winning primaries in California, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota, while Sanders won only Montana and North Dakota. Clinton also won the final primary in the District of Columbia on June 14. At the conclusion of the primary process, Clinton had won 2,204 pledged delegates (54% of the total) awarded by the primary elections and caucuses, while Sanders had won 1,847 (46%). Out of the 714 unpledged delegates or "superdelegates" who were set to vote in the convention in July, Clinton received endorsements from 560 (78%), while Sanders received 47 (7%).
Although Sanders had not formally dropped out of the race, he announced on June 16, 2016, that his main goal in the coming months would be to work with Clinton to defeat Trump in the general election. On July 8, appointees from the Clinton campaign, the Sanders campaign, and the Democratic National Committee negotiated a draft of the party's platform. On July 12, Sanders formally endorsed Clinton at a rally in New Hampshire in which he appeared with her. Sanders then went on to headline 39 campaign rallies on behalf of Clinton in 13 key states.
The following candidates were frequently interviewed by major broadcast networks and cable news channels or were listed in publicly published national polls. Lessig was invited to one forum, but withdrew when rules were changed which prevented him from participating in officially sanctioned debates.
In April 2016, the Clinton campaign began to compile a list of 15 to 20 individuals to vet for the position of running mate, even though Sanders continued to challenge Clinton in the Democratic primaries. In mid-June, The Wall Street Journal reported that Clinton's shortlist included Representative Xavier Becerra from California, Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey, Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro from Texas, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti from California, Senator Tim Kaine from Virginia, Labor Secretary Tom Perez from Maryland, Representative Tim Ryan from Ohio, and Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts. Subsequent reports stated that Clinton was also considering Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, retired Admiral James Stavridis, and Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado. In discussing her potential vice presidential choice, Clinton said the most important attribute she looked for was the ability and experience to immediately step into the role of president.
On July 22, Clinton announced that she had chosen Senator Tim Kaine from Virginia as her running mate. The delegates at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, which took place July 25–28, formally nominated the Democratic ticket.
Third party and independent candidates who have obtained more than 100,000 votes nationally or on Ballot in at least 15 states are listed separately.
In some states, Evan McMullin's running mate was listed as Nathan Johnson on the ballot rather than Mindy Finn, although Nathan Johnson was intended to only be a placeholder until an actual running mate was chosen.
Hillary Clinton focused her candidacy on several themes, including raising middle class incomes, expanding women's rights, instituting campaign finance reform, and improving the Affordable Care Act. In March 2016, she laid out a detailed economic plan basing her economic philosophy on inclusive capitalism, which proposed a "clawback" that rescinds tax cuts and other benefits for companies that move jobs overseas; with provision of incentives for companies that share profits with employees, communities and the environment, rather than focusing on short-term profits to increase stock value and rewarding shareholders; as well as increasing collective bargaining rights; and placing an "exit tax" on companies that move their headquarters out of the U.S. in order to pay a lower tax rate overseas. Clinton promoted equal pay for equal work to address current alleged shortfalls in how much women are paid to do the same jobs men do, promoted explicitly focus on family issues and support of universal preschool, expressed support for the right to same-sex marriage, and proposed allowing undocumented immigrants to have a path to citizenship stating that it "[i]s at its heart a family issue."
Donald Trump's campaign drew heavily on his personal image, enhanced by his previous media exposure. The primary slogan of the Trump campaign, extensively used on campaign merchandise, was Make America Great Again. The red baseball cap with the slogan emblazoned on the front became a symbol of the campaign and has been frequently donned by Trump and his supporters. Trump's right-wing populist positions—reported by The New Yorker to be nativist, protectionist, and semi-isolationist—differ in many ways from traditional conservatism. He opposed many free trade deals and military interventionist policies that conservatives generally support, and opposed cuts in Medicare and Social Security benefits. Moreover, he has insisted that Washington is "broken" and can be fixed only by an outsider. Support for Trump was high among working and middle-class white male voters with annual incomes of less than $50,000 and no college degree. This group, particularly those with less than a high-school education, suffered a decline in their income in recent years. According to The Washington Post, support for Trump is higher in areas with a higher mortality rate for middle-aged white people. A sample of interviews with more than 11,000 Republican-leaning respondents from August to December 2015 found that Trump at that time found his strongest support among Republicans in West Virginia, followed by New York, and then followed by six Southern states.
Clinton had an uneasy—and, at times, adversarial—relationship with the press throughout her life in public service. Weeks before her official entry as a presidential candidate, Clinton attended a political press corps event, pledging to start fresh on what she described as a "complicated" relationship with political reporters. Clinton was initially criticized by the press for avoiding taking their questions, after which she provided more interviews.
In contrast, Trump benefited from free media more than any other candidate. From the beginning of his campaign through February 2016, Trump received almost $2 billion in free media attention, twice the amount that Clinton received. According to data from the Tyndall Report, which tracks nightly news content, through February 2016, Trump alone accounted for more than a quarter of all 2016 election coverage on the evening newscasts of NBC, CBS and ABC, more than all the Democratic campaigns combined. Observers noted Trump's ability to garner constant mainstream media coverage "almost at will." However, Trump frequently criticized the media for writing what he alleged to be false stories about him and he has called upon his supporters to be "the silent majority." Trump also said the media "put false meaning into the words I say", and says he does not mind being criticized by the media as long as they are honest about it.
Both Clinton and Trump were seen unfavorably by the general public, and their controversial nature set the tone of the campaign.
Clinton's practice during her time as Secretary of State of using a private email address and server, in lieu of State Department servers, gained widespread public attention back in March 2015. Concerns were raised about security and preservation of emails, and the possibility that laws may have been violated. After allegations were raised that some of the emails in question fell into this so-called "born classified" category, an FBI probe was initiated regarding how classified information was handled on the Clinton server. The FBI probe was concluded on July 5, 2016, with a recommendation of no charges, a recommendation that was followed by the Justice Department.
Also, on September 9, 2016, Clinton said: "You know, just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. They're racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it." Donald Trump criticized her remark as insulting his supporters. The following day Clinton expressed regret for saying "half", while insisting that Trump had deplorably amplified "hateful views and voices." Previously on August 25, 2016, Clinton gave a speech criticizing Trump's campaign for using "racist lies" and allowing the alt-right to gain prominence.
On September 11, 2016, Clinton left a 9/11 memorial event early due to illness. Video footage of Clinton's departure showed Clinton becoming unsteady on her feet and being helped into a van. Later that evening, Clinton reassured reporters that she was "feeling great." After initially stating that Clinton had become overheated at the event, her campaign later added that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia two days earlier. The media criticized the Clinton campaign for a lack of transparency regarding Clinton's illness. Clinton cancelled a planned trip to California due to her illness. The episode drew renewed public attention to questions about Clinton's health.
On the other side, on October 7, 2016, video and accompanying audio were released by The Washington Post in which Trump referred obscenely to women in a 2005 conversation with Billy Bush while they were preparing to film an episode of Access Hollywood. In the recording, Trump described his attempts to initiate a sexual relationship with a married woman and added that women would allow male celebrities to grope their genitalia (Trump used the phrase "grab 'em by the pussy"). The audio was met with a reaction of disbelief and disgust from the media. Following the revelation, Trump's campaign issued an apology, stating that the video was of a private conversation from "many years ago." The incident was condemned by numerous prominent Republicans like Reince Priebus, Mitt Romney, John Kasich, Jeb Bush and the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Many believed the video had doomed Trump's chances for election. By October 8, several dozen Republicans had called for Trump to withdraw from the campaign and let Pence head the ticket. Trump insisted he would never drop out, but apologized for his remarks. 
Donald Trump also delivered strong and controversial statements towards Muslims and Islam on the campaign trail, saying, "I think Islam hates us." He was criticized and also supported for his statement at a rally declaring, "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on." Additionally, Trump announced that he would "look into" surveilling mosques, and mentioned potentially going after the families of domestic terrorists in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting. His strong rhetoric towards Muslims resulted in leadership from both parties condemning his statements. However, many of his supporters shared their support for his proposed travel ban, despite the backlash.
The ongoing controversy of the election made third parties attract voters' attention. On March 3, 2016, Libertarian Gary Johnson addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington DC, touting himself as the third-party option for anti-Trump Republicans. In early May, some commentators opined that Johnson was moderate enough to pull votes away from both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump who were very disliked and polarizing. Both conservative and liberal media noted that Johnson could get votes from "Never Trump" Republicans and disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters. Johnson also began to get time on national television, being invited on ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Bloomberg, and many other networks. In September and October 2016, Johnson suffered a "string of damaging stumbles when he has fielded questions about foreign affairs." On September 8, Johnson, when he appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe, was asked by panelist Mike Barnicle, "What would you do, if you were elected, about Aleppo?" (referring to a war-torn city in Syria). Johnson responded, "And what is Aleppo?" His response prompted widespread attention, much of it negative. Later that day, Johnson said that he had "blanked" and that he did "understand the dynamics of the Syrian conflict—I talk about them every day."
On the other hand, Green Party candidate Jill Stein said the Democratic and Republican parties are "two corporate parties" that have converged into one. Concerned by the rise of the far right internationally and the tendency towards neoliberalism within the Democratic Party, she has said, "The answer to neofascism is stopping neoliberalism. Putting another Clinton in the White House will fan the flames of this right-wing extremism."
In response to Johnson's growing poll numbers, the Clinton campaign and Democratic allies increased their criticism of Johnson in September 2016, warning that "a vote for a third party is a vote for Donald Trump" and deploying Senator Bernie Sanders (Clinton's former primary rival, who supported her in the general election) to win over voters who might be considering voting for Johnson or for Stein.
On October 28, eleven days before the election, FBI Director James Comey informed Congress that the FBI was analyzing additional Clinton emails obtained during its investigation of an unrelated case. On November 6, he notified Congress that the new emails did not change the FBI's earlier conclusion.
The following table is an overview of the money used in the campaign as it is reported to Federal Election Commission (FEC) and released in September 2016. Outside groups are independent expenditure-only committees—also called PACs and SuperPACs. The sources of the numbers are the FEC and Center for Responsive Politics. Some spending totals are not available, due to withdrawals before the FEC deadline. As of September 2016, ten candidates with ballot access have filed financial reports with the FEC.
The 2016 presidential election was the first in 50 years without all the protections of the original Voting Rights Act. Fourteen states had new voting restrictions in place, including swing states such as Virginia and Wisconsin.
Clinton was endorsed by The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Houston Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, the Chicago Sun-Times and the New York Daily News editorial boards. Several papers which endorsed Clinton, such as the Houston Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Columbus Dispatch and The Arizona Republic, endorsed their first Democratic candidate for many decades. The Atlantic, which has been in circulation since 1857, gave Clinton its third-ever endorsement (after Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson).
Trump, who frequently criticized the mainstream media, was not endorsed by the vast majority of newspapers. The Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Florida Times-Union, and the tabloid National Enquirer were his highest profile supporters. USA Today, which had not endorsed any candidate since it was founded in 1982, broke tradition by giving an anti-endorsement against Trump, declaring him "unfit for the presidency."
Gary Johnson received endorsements from several major daily newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Other traditionally Republican papers, including the New Hampshire Union Leader, which had endorsed the Republican nominee in every election for the last 100 years, and The Detroit News, which had not endorsed a non-Republican in its 143 years, endorsed Gary Johnson.
On December 9, 2016, the Central Intelligence Agency issued an assessment to lawmakers in the US Senate, stating that a Russian entity hacked the DNC and John Podesta's emails to assist Donald Trump. The Federal Bureau of Investigation agreed. President Barack Obama ordered a "full review" into such possible intervention. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper in early January 2017 testified before a Senate committee that Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign went beyond hacking, and included disinformation and the dissemination of fake news, often promoted on social media. Facebook revealed that during the 2016 United States presidential election, Russian company funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, Russian businessman with ties to Vladimir Putin, had purchased advertisements on the website for US$100,000, 25% of which were geographically targeted to the U.S.
President-elect Trump originally called the report fabricated, and Wikileaks denied any involvement by Russian authorities. Days later, Trump said he could be convinced of the Russian hacking "if there is a unified presentation of evidence from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies."
Several U.S. senators—including Republicans John McCain, Richard Burr, and Lindsey Graham—demanded a congressional investigation. The Senate Intelligence Committee announced the scope of their official inquiry on December 13, 2016, on a bipartisan basis; work began on January 24, 2017.
A formal Special Counsel investigation headed by former FBI director Robert Mueller was initiated in May 2017 to uncover the detailed interference operations by Russia, and to determine whether any people associated with the Trump campaign were complicit in the Russian efforts. When questioned by Chuck Todd on Meet the Press on March 5, 2017, Clapper declared that intelligence investigations on Russian interference performed by the FBI, CIA, NSA and his ODNI office had found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mueller concluded his investigation on March 22, 2019, by submitting his report to Attorney General William Barr.
On March 24, 2019, Barr submitted a letter describing Mueller's conclusions, and on April 18, 2019, a redacted version of the Mueller Report was released to the public. It concluded that Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election did occur "in sweeping and systematic fashion" and "violated U.S. criminal law."
The first method detailed in the final report was the usage of the Internet Research Agency, waging "a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton." The Internet Research Agency also sought to "provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States."
The second method of Russian interference saw the Russian intelligence service, the GRU, hacking into email accounts owned by volunteers and employees of the Clinton presidential campaign, including that of campaign chairman John Podesta, and also hacking into "the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC)." As a result, the GRU obtained hundreds of thousands of hacked documents, and the GRU proceeded by arranging releases of damaging hacked material via the WikiLeaks organization and also GRU's personas "DCLeaks" and "Guccifer 2.0." To establish whether a crime was committed by members of the Trump campaign with regard to Russian interference, the special counsel's investigators "applied the framework of conspiracy law", and not the concept of "collusion", because collusion "is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law." They also investigated if members of the Trump campaign "coordinated" with Russia, using the definition of "coordination" as having "an agreement—tacit or express—between the Trump campaign and the Russian government on election interference." Investigators further elaborated that merely having "two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other's actions or interests" was not enough to establish coordination.
The Mueller Report writes that the investigation "identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign", found that Russia "perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency" and that the 2016 Trump presidential campaign "expected it would benefit electorally" from Russian hacking efforts. Ultimately, "the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."
However, investigators had an incomplete picture of what had really occurred during the 2016 campaign, due to some associates of Trump campaign providing either false, incomplete or declined testimony, as well as having deleted, unsaved or encrypted communications. As such, the Mueller Report "cannot rule out the possibility" that information then unavailable to investigators would have presented different findings. In March 2020, the US Justice Department dropped its prosecution of two Russian firms linked to interference in the 2016 election.
Special Council Robert Mueller also investigated the Trump campaign's possible ties to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Qatar, Israel, and China. According to The Times of Israel, Trump's longtime confidant Roger Stone "was in contact with one or more apparently well-connected Israelis at the height of the 2016 US presidential campaign, one of whom warned Stone that Trump was 'going to be defeated unless we intervene' and promised 'we have critical intell[sic].'"
The Justice Department accused George Nader of providing $3.5 million in illicit campaign donations to Hillary Clinton before the elections and to Donald Trump after he won the elections. According to The New York Times, this was an attempt by the government of United Arab Emirates to influence the election.
The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a non-profit organization, hosted debates between qualifying presidential and vice-presidential candidates. According to the commission's website, to be eligible to opt to participate in the anticipated debates, "in addition to being Constitutionally eligible, candidates must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority vote in the Electoral College, and have a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations' most recently publicly-reported results at the time of the determination."
The three locations (Hofstra University, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Nevada, Las Vegas) chosen to host the presidential debates, and the one location (Longwood University) selected to host the vice presidential debate, were announced on September 23, 2015. The site of the first debate was originally designated as Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio; however, due to rising costs and security concerns, the debate was moved to Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
On August 19, Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager confirmed that Trump would participate in a series of three debates. Trump had complained two of the scheduled debates, one on September 26 and the other October 9, would have to compete for viewers with National Football League games, referencing the similar complaints made regarding the dates with low expected ratings during the Democratic Party presidential debates.
The news media and election experts were surprised at Trump's winning the Electoral College. For example, on the eve of the vote, spread betting firm Spreadex had Clinton at an Electoral College spread of 307-322 against Trump's 216-231. The final polls showed a lead by Clinton—and in the end, she did receive more votes. Trump himself expected, based on polling, to lose the election, and rented a small hotel ballroom to make a brief concession speech; "I said if we're going to lose I don't want a big ballroom", he later remarked. Trump performed surprisingly well in all battleground states, especially Florida, Iowa, Ohio and North Carolina. Even Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, states that had been predicted to vote Democratic, were won by Trump. Cindy Adams reported that "Trumptown knew they'd won by 5:30. Math, calculations, candidate dislike causing voter abstention begat the numbers."
According to the authors of , by late Tuesday night the White House had concluded that Trump would win the election. Obama's political director David Simas called Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook to persuade Clinton to concede the election, with no success. Obama then called Clinton directly, citing the importance of continuity of government, to ask her to publicly acknowledge that Trump had won. Believing that Clinton was still unwilling to concede, the president then called her campaign chair John Podesta, but the call to Clinton had likely already persuaded her.
After networks called Pennsylvania for Donald Trump, putting him with 264 electoral votes while he had a five-point lead in Arizona, which gives eleven electoral votes that would put Trump above the majority of 270, Clinton realized she had no chance to win the election and called Trump early Wednesday morning to concede defeat. Clinton was unable to make a public concession that night, as she had no concession speech written.
On Wednesday morning at 2:30 a.m. Eastern Time (ET), it was reported that Trump had secured Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes, giving him a majority of the 538 electors in the Electoral College, enough to make him the president-elect of the United States, and at 2:50 a.m. Trump gave his victory speech.
Later that day, Clinton asked her supporters to accept the result and hoped that Trump would be "a successful president for all Americans." In his speech, Trump appealed for unity, saying "it is time for us to come together as one united people", and praised Clinton as someone who was owed "a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country."
Six states plus a portion of Maine that Obama won in 2012 switched to Trump (Electoral College votes in parentheses): Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), Michigan (16), Wisconsin (10), Iowa (6), and Maine's second congressional district (1). Initially, Trump won exactly 100 more Electoral College votes than Mitt Romney had in 2012, with two lost to faithless electors in the final tally. Thirty-nine states swung more Republican compared to the previous presidential election, while eleven states and the District of Columbia swung more Democratic.
Based on United States Census Bureau estimates of the voting age population (VAP), turnout of voters casting a vote for president was nearly 1% higher than in 2012. Examining overall turnout in the 2016 election, University of Florida Prof. Michael McDonald estimated that 138.8 million Americans cast a ballot. Considering a VAP of 250.6 million people and a voting eligible population (VEP) of 230.6 million people, this is a turnout rate of 55.4% VAP and 60.2% VEP. Based on this estimate, voter turnout was up compared to 2012 (54.1% VAP) but down compared to 2008 (57.4% VAP). A FEC report of the election recorded an official total of 136.7 million votes cast for President—more than any prior election. Hillary Clinton won 51.1% of the two party vote and Donald Trump won 48.9% of it.
Data scientist Hamdan Azhar noted the paradoxes of the 2016 outcome, saying that "chief among them [was] the discrepancy between the popular vote, which Hillary Clinton won by 2.8 million votes, and the electoral college, where Trump won 304-227." He said Trump outperformed Mitt Romney's 2012 results, while Clinton only just matched Barack Obama's 2012 totals. Hamdan also said Trump was "the highest vote earner of any Republican candidate ever," exceeding George W. Bush's 62.04 million votes in 2004, though neither reached Clinton's 65.9 million, nor Obama's 69.5 million votes in 2008. He concluded, with help from The Cook Political Report, that the election hinged not on Clinton's large 2.8 million overall vote margin over Trump, but rather on about 78,000 votes from only three counties in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
The table below displays the official vote tallies by each state's Electoral College voting method. The source for the results of all states is the official Federal Election Commission report. The column labeled "Margin" shows Trump's margin of victory over Clinton (the margin is negative for every state that Clinton won).
A total of 29 appeared on the ballot in at least one state. Former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson and physician Jill Stein repeated their 2012 roles as the nominees for the Libertarian Party and the Green Party, respectively. With ballot access to the entire national electorate, Johnson received nearly 4.5 million votes (3.27%), the highest nationwide vote share for a third-party candidate since Ross Perot in 1996, while Stein received almost 1.45 million votes (1.06%), the most for a Green nominee since Ralph Nader in 2000.
Independent candidate Evan McMullin, who appeared on the ballot in 11 states, received over 732,000 votes (0.53%). He won 21.4% of the vote in his home state of Utah, the highest share of the vote for a third-party candidate in any state since 1992. Despite dropping out of the election following his defeat in the Democratic primary, Senator Bernie Sanders received 5.7% of the vote in his home state of Vermont, the highest write-in draft campaign percentage for a presidential candidate in American history. Johnson and McMullin were the first third-party candidates since Nader to receive at least 5% of the vote in one or more states, with Johnson crossing the mark in 11 states and McMullin crossing it in two.
Aside from Florida and North Carolina, the states which secured Trump's victory are situated in the Great Lakes/Rust Belt region. Wisconsin went Republican for the first time since 1984, while Pennsylvania and Michigan went Republican for the first time since 1988. Trump also won Maine's 2nd congressional district, which had also not been won by a Republican presidential candidate since 1988. Stein petitioned for a recount in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The Clinton campaign pledged to participate in the Green Party recount efforts, while Trump backers challenged them in court. Meanwhile, American Delta Party/Reform Party presidential candidate Rocky De La Fuente petitioned for and was granted a partial recount in Nevada.
Note: Two states (Maine[a] and Nebraska) allow for their electoral votes to be split between candidates by congressional districts. The winner within each congressional district gets one electoral vote for the district. The winner of the statewide vote gets two additional electoral votes.
Most media outlets announced the beginning of the presidential race about twenty months prior to Election Day. Soon after the first contestants declared their candidacy, Larry Sabato listed Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida, Nevada, and Ohio as the seven states most likely to be contested in the general election. After Donald Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination, many pundits felt that the major campaign locations might be different from what had originally been expected.
Rust Belt states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and even Michigan were thought to be in play with Trump as the nominee, while states with large minority populations, such as Colorado and Virginia, were expected to shift towards Clinton. By the conventions period and the debates, however, it did not seem as though the Rust Belt states could deliver a victory to Trump, as many of them were considered to be part of the "blue wall" of Democratic-leaning states. Trump's courting of the Polish-American vote, a sizable number of whom were Reagan Democrats, has been cited as the cause for the loss of the Rust Belt by the Democratic nominee. According to Politico and FiveThirtyEight, his path to victory went through states such as Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, and possibly Colorado.
Early polling indicated a closer-than-usual race in former Democratic strongholds such as Washington, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine (for the two statewide electoral votes), and New Mexico.
A consensus among political pundits developed throughout the primary election season regarding swing states. From the results of presidential elections from 2004 through to 2012, the Democratic and Republican parties would generally start with a safe electoral vote count of about 150 to 200. However, the margins required to constitute a swing state are vague, and can vary between groups of analysts. It was thought that left-leaning states in the Rust Belt could become more conservative, as Trump had strong appeal among many blue-collar workers. They represent a large portion of the American populace and were a major factor in Trump's eventual nomination. Trump's primary campaign was propelled by victories in Democratic states, and his supporters often did not identify as Republican.
Media reports indicated that both candidates planned to concentrate on Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina. Among the Republican-leaning states, potential Democratic targets included Nebraska's second congressional district, Georgia, and Arizona. Trump's relatively poor polling in some traditionally Republican states, such as Utah, raised the possibility that they could vote for Clinton, despite easy wins there by recent Republican nominees. However, many analysts asserted that these states were not yet viable Democratic destinations. Several sites and individuals publish electoral predictions. These generally rate the race by the likelihood for each party to win a state. The "tossup" label is usually used to indicate that neither party has an advantage, "lean" to indicate a party has a slight edge, "likely" to indicate a party has a clear but not overwhelming advantage, and "safe" to indicate a party has an advantage that cannot be overcome.
As the parameters of the race established themselves, analysts converged on a narrower list of contested states, which were relatively similar to those of recent elections. On November 7, the Cook Political Report categorized Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin as states with close races. Additionally, a district from each of Maine and Nebraska were considered to be coin flips. Meanwhile, FiveThirtyEight listed twenty-two states as potentially competitive about a month before the election—Maine's two at-large electoral votes, New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan, Colorado, Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, Arizona, Georgia, Alaska, South Carolina, Texas, Indiana, Missouri, and Utah—as well as Maine's second and Nebraska's second congressional districts. Nate Silver, the publication's editor-in-chief, subsequently removed Texas, South Carolina, Missouri, and Indiana from the list after the race tightened significantly. These conclusions were supported by models such as the Princeton Elections Consortium, the New York Times Upshot, and punditry evaluations from Sabato's Crystal Ball and the Cook Political Report.
Hillary Clinton won states like New Mexico by less than 10 percentage points. Among the states where the candidates finished at a margin of within seven percent, Clinton won Virginia (13 electoral votes), Colorado (9), Maine (2), Minnesota (10), and New Hampshire (4). On the other hand, Trump won Michigan (16), Pennsylvania (20), Wisconsin (10), Florida (29), North Carolina (15), Arizona (11), Nebraska's second district (1), and Georgia (16). States won by Obama in the 2012, such as Ohio (18), Iowa (6), and Maine's second district (1), were also won by Trump. The close result in Maine was not expected by most commentators, nor were Trump's victory of over 10 points in the second district and their disparities. The dramatic shift of Midwestern states towards Trump were contrasted in the media against the relative movement of Southern states towards the Democrats. For example, former Democratic strongholds such as Minnesota and Maine leaned towards the GOP while still voting Democratic, albeit by smaller margins. Meanwhile, Iowa voted more Republican than Texas did, Georgia was more Democratic than Ohio, and the margin of victory for Trump was greater in North Carolina than Arizona. Trump's smaller victories in Alaska and Utah also took some experts by surprise.
States where the margin of victory was under 1% (50 electoral votes; 46 won by Trump, four by Clinton):
States/districts where the margin of victory was between 1% and 5% (83 electoral votes; 56 won by Trump, 27 by Clinton):
States where the margin of victory was between 5% and 10% (94 electoral votes; 76 won by Trump, 18 by Clinton):
Red denotes states (or congressional districts) won by Republican Donald Trump; blue denotes those won by Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Voter demographic data for 2016 were collected by Edison Research for the National Election Pool, a consortium of ABC News, CBS News, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, and the Associated Press. The voter survey is based on exit polls completed by 24,537 voters leaving 350 voting places throughout the United States on Election Day, in addition to 4,398 telephone interviews with early and absentee voters. Trump's crucial victories in the Midwest were aided in large part by his strong margins among non-college whites — while Obama lost those voters by a margin of 10 points in 2012, Clinton lost this group by 20 percent. The election also represented the first time that Republicans performed better among lower-income whites than among affluent white voters. Clinton however had the majority amongst lower-income Americans overall.
Trump narrowed Clinton's margin compared to Obama by seven points among blacks and African-Americans, eight points among Latinos, and 11 points among Asian-Americans. Meanwhile, Trump increased his lead with non-Hispanic white voters through one percent over Mitt Romney’s performance, and American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders shifted their support towards the Republican candidate using the same relative amount. Additionally, although 74 percent of Muslim voters supported Clinton, Trump nearly doubled his support among those voters compared to Mitt Romney at 13 percent, according to the Council on American–Islamic Relations exit poll.
However, “more convincing data” from the polling firm Latino Decisions indicates that Clinton received a higher share of the Hispanic vote, and Trump a lower share, than the Edison exit polls showed. Using wider, more geographically and linguistically representative sampling, Latino Decisions concluded that Clinton won 79% of Hispanic voters (also an improvement over Obama's share in 2008 and 2012), while Trump won only 18% (lower than previous Republicans such as Romney and McCain). Additionally, the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study found that Clinton's share of the Hispanic vote was one percentage point higher than Obama's in 2012, while Trump's was seven percentage points lower than Romney's.
Similarly, a large, multi-lingual study by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund found that Clinton won 79% of Asian-American voters, higher than the Edison exit poll showed, while Trump won only 18%, a decrease from McCain's and Romney's numbers. Furthermore, according to the AALDEF's report, Trump received merely 2% of the Muslim-American vote, whereas Clinton received 97%. The low percentage of Muslim votes for Trump may have been influenced by much of his rhetoric during the campaign regarding Muslims and Islam. The issue of islamophobia was demonstrated to be an important political issue for Muslim voters; an ISPU study done in 2016 found that, “...outside the issues of discrimination and Islamophobia there aren't, like, one or two big issues that unite all Muslims.”
The 2016 election was highly-viewed, setting viewership records on CNN and Fox News. Over 28 million people watched the election on cable television, with 63.99 million viewers including broadcast television. While more highly-viewed than 2012 (60.86 million viewers), it was less viewed than 2008 (71.5 million viewers).
Various methods were used to forecast the outcome of the 2016 election. For the 2016 election, there were many competing election forecast approaches including Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight, The Upshot at The New York Times, Daily Kos, Princeton Election Consortium, Cook Political Report, Rothenberg and Gonzales, PollyVote, Sabato's Crystal Ball and Electoral-Vote. These models mostly showed a Democratic advantage since the nominees were confirmed, and were supported by pundits and statisticians, including Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, Nate Cohn at The New York Times, and Larry Sabato from the Crystal Ball newsletter, who predicted a Democratic victory in competitive presidential races and projected consistent leads in several battleground states around the country. The near-unanimity of forecasters in predicting a Clinton victory may have been the result of groupthink. However, FiveThirtyEight's model pointed to the possibility of an Electoral College-popular vote split widening in the final weeks based on Trump's improvement in swing states like Florida or Pennsylvania. This was due to the demographics targeted by Trump's campaign which lived in big numbers there, in addition to Clinton's poor performance in several of those swing states in comparison with Obama's performance in 2012, as well as having a big number of her potential voters in very populated traditionally 'blue' states, but also in some very populated states traditionally 'red', like Texas, which were projected safe for Trump.
Early exit polls generally favored Clinton. After the polls closed and some of the results came in, the forecasts were found to be inaccurate, as Trump performed better in the competitive Midwestern states, such as Iowa, Ohio, and Minnesota, than expected. Three states (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan) which were considered to be part of Clinton's firewall, were won by Trump. Of the states in the Great Lakes region, Clinton won the swing state of Minnesota by one point, as well as traditional Democratic strongholds such as New York and Illinois with populous urban centers. This result stands in contrast to that of 2012, when President Barack Obama won all but Indiana, which he carried in 2008. This table displays the final polling average published by Real Clear Politics on November 7, the actual electoral margin, and the over-performance by either candidate relative to the polls.
Many pollsters were puzzled by the failure of mainstream forecasting models to predict the outcome of the 2016 election. Some journalists compared the 2016 election to the failure of prognosticator Arthur Henning in the "Dewey Defeats Truman" incident from the 1948 presidential election. Sean Trende, writing for RealClearPolitics, wrote that many of the polls were accurate, but that the pundits' interpretation of these polls neglected polling error. Nate Silver found that the high number of undecided and third-party voters in the election was neglected in many of these models, and that many of these voters decided to vote for Trump. According to a February 2018 study by Public Opinion Quarterly, the main sources of polling error were "a late swing in vote preference toward Trump and a pervasive failure to adjust for over-representation of college graduates (who favored Clinton)," whereas the share of "shy" Trump voters (who declined to admit their support for Trump to the pollsters) proved to be negligible. Political scientist Lloyd Gruber said, "One of the major casualties of the 2016 election season has been the reputation of political science, a discipline whose practitioners had largely dismissed Donald Trump's chances of gaining the Republican nomination." Trump said that he was surprised, and added "I always used to believe in [polls]. I don't believe them anymore."
FiveThirtyEight's final polls-plus forecast predicted 18 states, plus the second congressional districts of Maine and Nebraska, with an interval of confidence lower than 90%. However, every major forecaster, including FiveThirtyEight, The New York Times Upshot, prediction markets aggregator PredictWise, ElectionBettingOdds from Maxim Lott and John Stossel, the DailyKos, the Princeton Election Consortium, the Huffington Post, the Cook Political Report, Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, and the Rothenberg and Gonzales Report, called every state the same way (although Cook and Rothenberg-Gonzales left two and five states as toss-ups, respectively). The lone exception was Maine's 2nd congressional district. Of the forecasters who published results on the district, the Times gave Trump a 64% chance of winning and PredictWise a 52% chance, FiveThirtyEight gave Clinton a 51% chance of winning in polls-only and 54% in polls-plus, Princeton gave her a 60% chance, Cook labelled it a toss-up, and Sabato leaned it towards Trump. The following table displays the final winning probabilities given by each outlet, along with the final electoral result. The states shown have been identified by Politico, WhipBoard, The New York Times, and the Crystal Ball as battlegrounds.
Trump's victory, considered unlikely by most forecasts, was characterized as an "upset" and as "shocking" by the media. Trump himself thought he would lose even as the polls were closing.
Protesters have held up a number of different signs and chanted various shouts including "Not my president" and "We don't accept the president-elect." The movement organized on Twitter under the hashtags #Antitrump and #NotMyPresident.
High school and college students walked out of classes to protest. At a few protests fires were lit, flags and other items were burned and people yelled derogatory remarks about Trump. Rioters also broke glass at certain locations. Celebrities such as Madonna, Cher, and Lady Gaga took part in New York. Some protesters took to blocking freeways in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Portland, Oregon, and were dispersed by police in the early hours of the morning. In a number of cities, protesters were dispersed with rubber bullets, pepper spray and bean-bags fired by police. In New York City, calls were made to continue the protests over the coming days after the election. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti expressed understanding of the protests and praised those who peacefully wanted to make their voices heard.
After the election, computer scientists, including J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, urged the Clinton campaign to request an election recount in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (three swing states where Trump had won narrowly) for the purpose of excluding the possibility that the hacking of electronic voting machines had influenced the recorded outcome. However, statistician Nate Silver performed a regression analysis which demonstrated that the alleged discrepancy between paper ballots and electronic voting machines "completely disappears once you control for race and education level." On November 25, 2016, the Obama administration said the results from November 8 "accurately reflect the will of the American people." The following day, the White House released another statement, saying: "the federal government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyberactivity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on Election Day."
Donald Trump and New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu both complained that liberal voters from Massachusetts were illegally bused into New Hampshire for the 2016 election, and Scott Brown blamed the same phenomenon for losing his senate race in 2014. The New Hampshire Secretary of State and New Hampshire Department of Justice issued a report in 2018 regarding complaints of voters being bused in from Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts for the 2016 election. They found that in every case, field inspectors were able to determine that the voters were from New Hampshire, though they were riding a bus operated by an out-of-state company (which has its name and address written on the outside of the bus, presumably the source of the confusion). Out of 743,000 votes cast, four were determined to be cast illegally, either because the voters were told to go to the wrong location, or because the voter believed they were able to vote in each town in which they owned property. Out of about 6,000 same-day voter registrations in the state, the report says only 66 voters could not have their residency confirmed (though fraud is not the only explanation for such a failure).
On November 23, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein launched a public fundraiser to pay for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, asserting that the election's outcome had been affected by hacking in those states; Stein did not provide evidence for her claims. Changing the outcome of these three states would make Clinton the winner, and this would require showing that fewer than 60,000 votes had been counted for Trump which should have been counted for Clinton. Stein filed for a recount in Wisconsin on November 25, after which Clinton campaign general counsel Marc Elias said their campaign would join Stein's recount efforts in that state and possibly others "in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides." Stein subsequently filed for a recount in Pennsylvania on November 28, and in Michigan on November 30. Concurrently, American Delta Party/Reform Party presidential candidate Rocky De La Fuente sought and was granted a partial recount in Nevada that was unrelated to Stein's efforts.
President-elect Donald Trump issued a statement denouncing Stein's Wisconsin recount request saying, "The people have spoken and the election is over." Trump further commented that the recount "is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded." The Trump campaign and Republican Party officials moved to block Stein's three recount efforts through state and federal courts.
U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ordered a halt to the recount in Michigan on December 7, dissolving a previous temporary restraining order against the Michigan Board of Elections that allowed the recount to continue, stating in his order: "Plaintiffs have not presented evidence of tampering or mistake. Instead, they present speculative claims going to the vulnerability of the voting machinery—but not actual injury." On December 12, U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond rejected an appeal by the Green Party and Jill Stein to force a recount in Pennsylvania, stating that suspicion of a hacked Pennsylvania election "borders on the irrational" and that granting the Green Party's recount bid could "ensure that no Pennsylvania vote counts" given the December 13, 2016, federal deadline to certify the vote for the Electoral College. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin recount was allowed to continue as it was nearing completion and had uncovered no significant irregularities.
The recounts in Wisconsin and Nevada were completed on schedule, resulting in only minor changes to vote tallies. A partial recount of Michigan ballot found some precinct imbalances in Detroit, which were corrected. A subsequent state audit found no evidence of voter fraud and concluded that the mistakes, which were "almost entirely" caused by poll-worker mistakes attributed to poor training, did not impair "the ability of Detroit residents to cast a ballot and have their vote counted." The overall outcome of the election remained unchanged by the recount efforts.
Intense lobbying (in one case involving claims of harassment and death threats) and grass-roots campaigns were directed at various GOP electors of the United States Electoral College to convince a sufficient number of them (37) to not vote for Trump, thus precluding a Trump presidency. Members of the Electoral College themselves started a campaign for other members to "vote their conscience for the good of America" in accordance with Alexander Hamilton's Federalist Paper No. 68. Former candidate Lawrence Lessig and attorney Laurence Tribe established The Electors Trust on December 5 under the aegis of Equal Citizens to provide pro bono legal counsel as well as a secure communications platform for members of the Electoral College who were considering a vote of conscience against Trump.
On December 6, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne W. Williams castigated Democratic electors who had filed a lawsuit in Federal court to have the state law binding them to the popular vote (in their case for Hillary Clinton) overturned.
On December 10, ten electors, in an open letter headed by Christine Pelosi to the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, demanded an intelligence briefing in light of . Fifty-eight additional electors subsequently added their names to the letter, bringing the total to 68 electors from 17 different states. On December 16, the briefing request was denied.
On December 19, several electors voted against their pledged candidates: two against Trump and five against Clinton. A further three electors attempted to vote against Clinton but were replaced or forced to vote again. The 115th United States Congress officially certified the results on January 6, 2017.
In the Electoral College vote on December 19, for the first time since 1808, multiple faithless electors voted against their pledged qualified presidential candidate.[b] Five Democrats rebelled in Washington and Hawaii, while two Republicans rebelled in Texas. Two Democratic electors, one in Minnesota and one in Colorado, were replaced after voting for Bernie Sanders and John Kasich, respectively. Electors in Maine conducted a second vote after one of its members voted for Sanders; the elector then voted for Clinton.
Of the faithless votes, Colin Powell and Elizabeth Warren were the only two to receive more than one; Powell received three electoral votes for president and Warren received two for vice president. Receiving one valid electoral vote each were Sanders, John Kasich, Ron Paul and Faith Spotted Eagle for president, and Carly Fiorina, Susan Collins, Winona LaDuke and Maria Cantwell for vice president. Sanders is the first Jewish American to receive an electoral vote for president. LaDuke is the first Green Party member to receive an electoral vote, and Paul is the third member of the Libertarian Party to do so, following the party's presidential and vice-presidential nominees each getting one vote in 1972. It is the first election with faithless electors from more than one political party. The seven people to receive electoral votes for president were the most in a single election since 1796.