The recriminations are under way and they go beyond the Democrats.

The sky didn't fall in on the first day after Donald Trump's election.

It got lower, leaden, the clear blue optimism of Election Day giving way to a sullen grey shroud over Manhattan.

Wall Street rebounded, the conversations on the sidewalks were about anything but the election. New York flexed to its usual soundtrack of sirens and self-interest.

Trump woke as President-Elect in his penthouse atop Trump Tower on 5th Avenue.


One block away, Hillary Clinton woke - if she slept at all - at the Peninsula Hotel ("Fifth Avenue's most glamorous address") where suites start at US$995 a night.

They were two nominees brought much closer by geography than they had been during the campaign.

But what must Clinton have been thinking?

She was a no-show at her own election night bash, letting campaign chairman John Podesta take the stage, primarily to tell people to go home.

Today she appeared late morning at another Manhattan hotel, the New Yorker, where she delivered a classy and personal concession speech in which she said America owed the President-Elect an open mind.

She and Trump finally converged through pragmatism as well as geography. The opprobrium of the campaign would have been impossible for either to sustain.

12 Nov, 2016 11:00am
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LISTEN: Melanie Eversley of USA Today speaks to Mike Hosking about post-Trump protests and reports of hate crimes

Trump's address to a baying crowd at the Hilton last night featured praise for Clinton's record of public service. But you can afford to accept the result when you win.

Like Clinton, Barack Obama accepted it well regardless, calling Trump about 3.30am to congratulate him, inviting him to the White House for a meeting tomorrow to start the succession process.

Despite Obama's high approval ratings, the American people have given Trump and his "movement" a mandate for change. Today, the Republicans confirmed their intention to repeal Obamacare at the first opportunity.

The recriminations are underway and they go beyond the Democrats. The media are questioning the pro-Clinton polling that skewed - and skewered - expectations and blindsided the world.

They shouldn't be too harsh. Clinton will win the popular vote, if not the presidency, and the final national polls gave her a slim edge. Already there is chatter about electoral reform.

But the polls in key battlegrounds like Pennsylvania were spectacularly wrong. Sometimes you just have to look for the signs. Literally.

Driving through swing states like North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, there were significantly more signs for Trump and Pence than for Clinton and Kaine.

That's not scientific, but, clearly, neither are the polls. If his victory sounds the death knell for current polling models it will be just one way Trump reshapes the political map.

His ability to capitalise on the frustration of the everyman has been phenomenal. The vast majority of Trump supporters I met were sensible and coherent with clearly considered positions.

They were worried about money and jobs - the primary factors in any election - and fed up with being ignored. Trump's soundbite at his final rally, about the revenge of the working class, was perhaps the truest phrase of the campaign.

The world has been happy to view Trump as a caricature. The media - including the Herald - have relentlessly focused on his quirkiness with "hey, you'll never guess what Donald Trump did now" headlines.

The world has belittled the sense of frustration felt by his support, failed to predict that this would be the biggest protest vote ever.

Outside Trump Tower, Peruvian migrant Carmina Santana confounded all the cliches: "As an immigrant born and raised in Peru, an educated, Hispanic, Latin woman I actually feel that he was the better choice. With Hillary I think we would have had more obstacles to pursue our American dream. She has a globalist mindset so I like the freedom that may be coming with Trump. Not that I was crazy about Trump but that was then best choice out of two bad ones."

There are, of course, lingering and legitimate questions about the way Trump conducted himself, about his attitudes to women, minorities and the disadvantaged. Several hundred critics were planning to march on Trump Tower this evening.

Earlier, about 20 students protested outside, among them Sara Ratliff: "In terms of the general state of our country and where we're going I'm absolutely terrified. I'm absolutely terrified of everything that Trump is normalising, all the actions that people think are acceptable. I'm relay scared and I don't quite know where we go from here. I don't know how much we can change but I think we're sure as hell going to try."

Perhaps Trump's biggest challenge - more than his lack of political experience and the likelihood that bilateral calls for national unity will go the way of Clinton's electoral hopes - will be his ability to maintain his outsider status, to stay out of the Washington swamp he plans to drain.

After all, he's seen this week how unforgiving the American public can be.