Donald Trump clinched a historic election tonight, winning the US presidency with a strong showing in battleground states, that helped him trump Hillary Clinton in a knife-edge race.

Major US news networks projected Republican candidate Trump to have won the crucial battleground states of Florida, Ohio and North Carolina.
Clinton, 69, who grabbed the traditional Democratic strongholds of California and Virginia, was now facing a tough challenge from the 70-year-old real estate billionaire, who joined politics only 18 months ago.

To win the presidential election, a candidate needs 270 of the 538 electoral college votes.

According to CNN, Trump won Florida (29 electoral college votes), Iowa (6) Georgia (16), Ohio (18), North Carolina (15), North Dakota (3), South Dakota (3), Nebraska (4), Kansas (6), Oklahoma (7), Texas (38), Wyoming (3), Indiana (11), Kentucky (8), Tennessee (11), Mississippi (6), Arkansas (6), Louisiana (8), West Virginia (5), Alabama (9), South Carolina (9), Montana (3), Idaho (5) and Missouri (10).

Clinton emerged victorious in California (55), Nevada (6) Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), New York (29), New Jersey (14), Maryland (10), District of Columbia (3), Vermont (3), Massachusetts (11), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Colorado (9), New Mexico (5), Virginia (13), Oregon (7), Washington (12) and Rhode Island (4).

Crucially, Trump was ahead in the vote count in the keys states of Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) and Michigan (16).

Trump, who ran an improbable and often ugly campaign against the establishment, was holding on to small but significant leads in a series of key states, upending months of polling that had given the advantage to Clinton and raised Republican hopes of seizing back the White House.

"Reaction to the prospect of a Trump presidency rippled across the globe, with financial markets abroad falling as American television networks raised the prospect that Mrs Clinton might lose," The New York Times said.