Donald Trump took a dramatic step toward the White House Tuesday with crucial battleground victories in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.
The victories are stunning for a candidate long seen as unlikely to win the presidency. Hillary Clinton's campaign was confident it was competitive in places like Florida and North Carolina and even sought to expand the map with recent visits to traditionally Republican states such as Arizona.
An election season that has defied expectations from the very beginning is staying true to form to the very end. Trump has an increasingly viable path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win. And even if Clinton were to win, it would likely be by the slimmest of margins.
The Ohio victory is especially important for Trump as no Republican has won the White House without taking the Buckeye State. North Carolina is a serious blow to Clinton, who fought hard for the state and held the final rally of her campaign there in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Clinton pulled out desperately needed wins in Virginia, Nevada and Colorado. Still, she faces a much stronger than expected challenge from Trump in Michigan and Wisconsin. Those Midwestern states form the bedrock of her Democratic firewall.
But the race is so close across the country that Maine and Nebraska, which split their electoral votes by congressional districts, could become important in deciding the outcome of the election.
The prospect of a Trump win quickly sent global markets tumbling
, amid fears his vow to ditch global trade deals and brand China a currency manipulator would spark global economic shocks. Dow futures plummeted Tuesday night. Major indexes in Asia are also down.
So far, Trump has won 25 states, including Texas. Clinton has come out on top in New York and 16 other states along with the District of Columbia. Trump has 244 electoral votes compared to 215 electoral votes for Clinton.
Regardless of who prevails, history will be made as Americans elect either their first woman president or side with the ultimate political outsider.