The unthinkable has happened. The next American President is a man with no experience of public office, no regard for the trade agreements previous presidents have made, who says he will slap tariffs on imports of products made by American companies overseas, clamp down on immigration, build a wall on the Mexican border and cut taxes to a degree certain to blow out the country's budget deficit.

The outlook for the world economy is very dark. Trade protection will arrest what little growth major economies have had since the global financial crisis. If President Trump carries out his threats, other leading economies are bound to reply in kind. The outlook for global security is not much brighter. Donald Trump has said he will demand Nato partners contribute more to their own defence if they want US protection. He will align with Russia in Syria to defeat Isis and may be disinclined to buttress countries such as Ukraine and the Baltic states against Vladimir Putin's ambitions.

Inside the US, minorities will be worried at the views Trump represents and which this election's results cannot help but endorse. Extreme conservatism and its attitudes to race, gender, sexual respect and, particularly, immigrant communities, has been reinforced and given the confidence of a majority vote.

Coming on top of Brexit, the US election result will encourage formerly fringe parties in France and other countries of Europe where immigration presses more heavily than it does on the US.


None of this was of any concern to the legions of voters who turned out for Trump yesterday. He has defied the polls and the criticisms from mainstream media, both of whom need to acknowledge they have failed to connect with the sentiments Trump has tapped. Perhaps his supporters were simply less inclined to respond to phone polls than Hillary Clinton's were, but that is no excuse. Polling has to offset the respectability bias of verbal responses.

Democracy demands that a majority vote is respected. Trump's supporters did well enough yesterday for their views to be given closer attention. They are worried about immigration and the possibility that it brings in, or nurtures, terrorists and, at the very least, it may be taking jobs from Americans like them.

Trump's theme that America is no longer a great and powerful nation but one that is outsmarted and no longer respected in the world, must have resonated with them. He has appealed to fears that must be more widespread than anybody outside the US can appreciate. It is still the world's strongest, most innovative economy and will probably remain so when China exceeds it in size. But perhaps the rise of China scares them too.

US elections always show there are two Americas, the cosmopolitan coasts that vote Democrat and the rural heartland that returns Republicans. This time the heartland has prevailed. It is a personal disappointment for Hillary Clinton and for all who hoped to see a woman elected President. Those hopes, like progress on trade liberalisation and much else, will have to be shelved for four years. Trump is going into the White House and possibly not even he knows what he might do.