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Four-year-old Kadence Cagle waits as her great-great grandmother Elizabeth Conway votes on Nov. 8, 2016, at the Hixson Fellowship Hall in Red Bank Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

More 2016 election stories

History today is bittersweet, and tomorrow may be cruel.

Last night gave us no swift end to this cantankerous election season.

We watched as Hillary Clinton continued a quest to become America's first woman president. And we watched as Donald Trump huffed and puffed to defy her — and us.

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The election outcome was too close to call at press time. The race has been as much about the country's changing demographics and shifting party coalitions as it has been about the candidates themselves.

Clinton tapped the hope of women, Hispanics, African Americans and educated suburbanites concerned about better futures for their children, while Trump bottled and sold racism, bigotry and misogyny to recruit the alt-right, conspiracy theorists, white supremacists and anti-Semites to help him court the reliable Republican voters who think life has somehow cheated them.

Those Republicans — and crossover Democrats, too — are good people, but frightened by the changes brought on by technology and the realities of a global economy. They see their jobs disappearing, and they don't understand the reasons their livelihoods are gone. They see their towns dying, their children moving away. They have real concerns that they want government to address.

Trump fooled some of them, and Clinton seemed to have been unable to galvanize their support. Time will tell which of these two will prevail. Still more time will tell if the next occupant of the White House can and will find a way to work with Congress to deliver relief.

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The differences between these two candidates could not be more stark.

She has experience, he has brag. She has graciousness, he has p-words, mockery and a penchant for insults. She has plans, he has an impossible and irresponsible fairy tale of a wall, a mass deportation and an immigration ban based on skin color and religion.

She has negotiation skills and a track record of using them in 112 countries to forge a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world, and a never-flinching 11-hour show of grace in front of an enemy congressional committee. He has reactions: "Punch him." Or if, heaven forbid, someone throws a hand gesture, he vows to "blow 'em out of the water."

She has weathered myriad probes that resulted in pronouncements of no wrongdoing, though occasional mistakes over three decades. He has a failed and fraudulent university and foundation — both under various state and FBI probes — along with a trail of involvement in at least 3,500 lawsuits, six bankruptcies, three marriages.

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Questions hang over control of the U.S. Senate as well.

The Dems needed five states to elect new senators with blue buttons, plus the vice presidency. The best chances were in Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Hampshire, Missouri, North Carolina and Indiana. Voters may or may not have accomplished this. By press time, only one new senator was a sure thing. On the bright side, that one was a woman.

Yesterday there were 20 women among the 100 U.S. senators seated in Congress. Come January, there will be at least one more.

History happens with the ticktock of seconds, and on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, these seconds seemed to become hours and days.

What now seems most incomprehensible is that this Clinton-Trump matchup continues to be a contest.

History is often bittersweet, but on Tuesday and today, it has looked a bit more like making sausage.

Tennessee is still a very red state

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Chattanooga attorney, will remain Southeast Tennessee's U.S. congressman. First-time office seeker, Democrat Melody Shekari, secured almost 30 percent of the votes cast in the sprawling 3rd District. We hope Shekari seeks public office again.

Our local seats in Tennessee's General Assembly also remained ruddy red, though in Chattanooga, political newcomer and Democrat Khristy Wilkinson gave freshman Todd Gardenhire in Senate District 10 a tough run, besting him Hamilton County, but not in Bradley County. We hope she seeks office again, as well.

State House Republicans Patsy Hazlewood, District 27, and Marc Gravitt, District 30, rode to victory over Democratic challengers who, though their names were on the ballot, declined to mount campaigns.

In a race to fill the Hamilton County Commission, District 3, seat, Republican school board member Greg Martin bested Independent and Y-Cap founder Joe Smith.

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