Donald Trump has taken major strides towards the White House by winning the key battleground states of Florida and Ohio, with aides already claiming victory in the presidential race.
The controversial business tycoon’s success in two of the crucial swing states that will decide the White House contest represent major setbacks to Hillary Clinton’s dreams of becoming the first female president in US history.
Florida has 29 votes in the electoral college which decides who becomes the next president and is a major prize for Mr Trump as he seeks to reach the victory target of 270.
Ohio, an electoral bellwether, adds 18 votes to Mr Trump’s tally.
The state has a history of being claimed by the eventual victor in the presidential campaign, with John F Kennedy the last occupant of the White House to fail to take Ohio when he won in 1960.
In an indication of the increasing confidence in the Republican nominee’s camp, a senior aide at the his New York “victory party” said Mr Trump had won the bitterly fought presidential race,
Layne Bangerter, director of the Trump for President campaign in Idaho, told the Press Association: “I’m saying it’s over. The voice of the people has risen up.”
In a message which appeared to betray the nervousness in the Clinton camp, the Democratic nominee thanked her supporters “whatever happens tonight”.
“This team has so much to be proud of,” she said. “Whatever happens tonight, thank you for everything.”
Victory in Virginia gave the Clinton campaign cause for hope, with the battleground state’s giving her 13 precious electoral college votes.
Her chances of following husband Bill into the White House now rest on strong showings in the remaining swing states.
International markets reacted nervously as Mr Trump’s victory chances increased. Shares tumbled across Asia, while the dollar plunged against the Japanese yen and the Mexican peso also slumped.