visited 10 counties in four key battleground states on an eight-day road trip to New York and the greatest election shock in modern American history.
Here's how they voted.
As ever, Florida proved crucial. Maintaining its reputation as America's real king-maker (because there still hasn't been a queen), Trump's win was the 10th time in 11 elections the Sunshine a State has backed the overall winner.
Palm Beach County
A densely populated area with sizeable African American and Hispanic populations, this was always going to be a win for the Democrats, who get a further boost from people relocated from the liberal north eastern states.
Here I met sisters Amy Arlein and Susan Lemkin, canvassing door-to-door in a poor part of West Palm Beach in an effort to stop the "completely crazy" Donald Trump.
The Democrats duly won here for the seventh consecutive election, but with the lowest winning percentage - 56.5 per cent - since 1992. They wanted to run up the vote to offset losses in rural parts of the state. They did - but not by enough.
Dade City, Pasco County
It was in Dade City that I attended by first Hillary Clinton rally, and where I saw the first and only protest at a Democrat event by Trump supporters.
The venue was small, although I didn't realise how small until I attended comparable events.
This was rural west Florida. It's been a swing county, the Republicans sweeping the 1980s, the Democrats winning in the 1990s and 2000.
Crucially, Trump secured the Republicans' biggest winning percentage - 58.9 per cent - since 1984. The Democrats got 37.4 per cent, the lowest since 1972.
On a balmy evening at a rec centre in the greater Tampa area on Florida's west coast, Bill Clinton talked jobs and the economy, an attempt to wrest that part of the debate away from Trump.
Pinellas went red, by a 1.1 per cent margin. The Democrats had won five of the previous six elections - losing the sixth by 0.1 per cent. They couldn't even hold their support in an urban heartland.
The rise of a liberal elite in Raleigh and Charlotte, the Research Triangle - a haven for tech and innovation - and Barack Obama's appeal to African Americans has made the state what would, a generation ago, have been considered an unlikely battleground.
Chapel Hill, Orange County
On a blisteringly hot afternoon, Obama told a big, jubilant crowd at the University of North Carolina that if the Democrats won the Tar Heel state, they'd win the election.
They romped to victory in Orange County, piling up 74 per cent of the vote, three times what Trump got. But that margin of victory, and others in similarly urban parts of the state, were not enough to stop Trump taking it by almost 4 percentage points.
Concord, Cabarrus County
Clinton continued the Democrats' improving performance in this rural county, probably appealing to the many thousands who commute to the city of Charlotte, the state's largest, for work. But Trump's performance was solid, maintaining a big winning margin. His rally at the Cabarrus Arena drew a big crowd typically engaged with his isolationist rhetoric.
Ohio's backing for Trump made it perhaps the ultimate bellwether state. It's 11 for 11 now in terms of capturing the mood of the nation.
Trump flipped it for the Republicans - and how, turning a 3 per centage point deficit into an 8.6 point margin of victory.
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County
I liked Cleveland a lot. It's a city big on sport and imposing buildings that bark to its time as part of its nation's economic powerhouse.
Here Clinton enlisted Beyoncé and Jay Z for an uplifting concert-cum-rally designed to ensure African Americans and millennials cast their vote. She smashed it here, with a winning margin of 30 per cent. But she had the lowest Democrat percentage of the vote since 2000.
Canton, Stark County
Stark is known as a bellwether county, backing the next president seven times in the last eight elections. Obama won comfortably here in 2008, narrowly in 2012. Trump won by 17 percentage points. When I visited, he had strong backing from men, with opposition to gun control and abortion sitting well. Canton, near Akron, once a world leader in tyre manufacturing, is fighting economically. The people wanted change.
This was part of Clinton's so-called firewall, six states her campaign was confident of winning to all-but take her to the White House. This, though, is the ultimate embodiment of America's manufacturing decline. Outside the main centres the Republicans have long had strong support. The Democrats, though, used to be able to bank on the big cities.
Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
Flipping Ohio was one of Trump's biggest, and most surprising, results. The Democrats had won it six times on the bounce, and by decent margins under Obama. Trump had to appeal to the disenfranchised blue collar and rural voters who felt abandoned by Washington and the political establishment. Perhaps surprisingly considering results elsewhere, he didn't make inroads into the Democrats' big lead in Allegheny. But it was noticeable that once you got outside Pittsburgh, the country areas didn't want anyone else in the White House.
West Chester, Chester County/Norristown, Montgomery County
In the affluent commuter belt on the western and northern fringes of Philadelphia, Chelsea Clinton was a late visitor to exhort campaign volunteers to keep up their doorknocking and get the vote out.
The Democrats responded, with big margins in both locations. It worked. In Chester they turned a small deficit into an almost 10 per cent margin of victory. In Montgomery, they went from a 3 per cent margin to almost nine times that.
It wasn't enough. Take out Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania, the Keystone State, is all red.
• Chris Reed travelled to the US with the assistance of the US embassy in New Zealand.