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Donald Trump: The real challenge begins now

THE US has elected a new president but as Political Correspondent John Manley reports from Detroit, Michigan the real challenge for Donald Trump starts here.

The champagne flutes on the table remained untouched as forlorn people slowly drifted from Detroit's MGM Grand hotel and out into the chilly, early morning air.

The glasses were primed for the toast to mark another Democrat victory in Michigan and a wave of country-wide support that would carry Hillary Clinton into the White House.

Those gathered at the lavish, downtown venue had hoped to celebrate the US's first female president and the electorate's resounding rejection of Donald Trump's jingoism.

They had based their plans on the pollsters' predictions that the former first lady would triumph due to better organisation and the backing of key demographics like women, latinos and African-Americans.

They also believed that enough of middle America would weigh-in behind the one-time secretary of state.

President-elect Donald Trump speaks during an election night rally in New York. Picture by Evan Vucci, Associated Press

But in a situation displaying obvious parallels with June's referendum result, the forecasts turned out to be wrong and soon after the polls on the eastern coast began to close on Tuesday, it became apparent that a major upset was on the cards.

As the night progressed Republicans began to breech the 'blue wall' of solid Democratic states, as the growing disillusionment and disconnect in America's former industrial heartlands manifested itself in a surge of support for Trump.

Untouched champagne flutes in Michigan

At lunchtime yesterday the predominantly blue-collar state of Michigan was still waiting to hear how its closest-ever electoral contest had finished but there was no question about the overall result.

Despite taking the majority of the popular vote, albeit by a super slender margin, the US's oft-derided electoral college system saw Mrs Clinton thwarted in her bid to follow in her husband's footsteps.

Democrats had watched in horror as the "rust belt"states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin all turned Republican red.

Meanwhile, there was no wavering in traditional Republican strongholds like Oklahoma, Mississippi and Alabama.

A bleary-eyed America awoke after election night into a new political era, one characterised by social schisms and increasingly acceptable levels of intolerance.

As Republicans celebrated, in Oakland California and in other US cities, President Trump's victory prompted street protests, with people chanting "Not my president".

While the billionaire businessman sounded a conciliatory note in his acceptance speech, he clearly has his work cut out in attempting to bring together this deeply divided nation.

There will also be the challenge for the President-elect of convincing the rest of the world that he has the necessary statesman-like qualities and temperament to lead the most powerful nation on earth.

Just days ago, in the heat of the presidential campaign's final leg, the White House's current incumbent warned that his successor was "uniquely unfit" to hold office.

In terms of accountability in Congress, President Trump – no matter how many times you say it, the moniker still jars – looks set to get an easy ride due to Republican majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

He may not be universally popular with his party's traditional conservative class but they are unlikely to undermine his policy plans.

Meanwhile, the post-mortems and accompanying recrimination among Democrats begins immediately, with many adopting the"if only we'd backed Bernie Sanders" line to explain the party's shock defeat to a populist candidate.

So many aspects of the American political culture appear to have been discredited by Donald Trump's victory.

The electoral system, the media and the pollsters all displayed shortcomings that aren't easily redressed.

Likewise, the necessity to have a wall of money behind each presidential campaign will only further restrict who gets involved in future.

On polling day a cab driver described the election as a dumpster fire, where trash was the main component and heat the only outcome.

It seems there's many burning issues in America's new political era.

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