President-elect Donald Trump is clearly the big winner of this election. His opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is obviously the biggest loser.
But a handful of other individuals and groups worked their tails off to emerge either as dominant forces in American politics or as election cycle dunces.
So here are the biggest winner and losers of the 2016 election, excluding the presidential candidates.
1. Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made one of the biggest political gambles in modern history by refusing to grant any hearings to President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
Knowing full well that the court would remain split and that he would be blamed for all 4-4 decisions, McConnell took on the role as an obstructionist. But his bet on letting the next president, which we now know is Donald Trump, decide the replacement for the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia paid off. McConnell won that battle and will now likely get a conservative, textualist justice to fill the vacancy.
2. The NRA
The National Rifle Association fervently backed Trump during the entirety of the race, arguing that Clinton’s known support for intensified gun control laws would threaten their view of how firearm ownership in the United States should be conducted.
When Republican members of Congress and other top conservative brass abandoned Trump over footage of lewd comments the billionaire made, the NRA stuck by Trump’s side.
The NRA was vindicated on Tuesday, which NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox said in a statement was a “a loud and clear message that our gun rights are not for sale,” adding:
“Despite the unprecedented efforts by New York City billionaire Michael Bloomberg and the gun control lobby, the Second Amendment prevailed. In the face of threats against their constitutional freedoms, NRA members and Second Amendment supporters rallied to elect a pro-gun president. Trump’s victory repudiates the assertion by gun control advocates that the political calculus regarding the Second Amendment has changed.”
“A special thank-you to NRA members and supporters who made the difference in this important election,” Cox added. “Freedom scored another victory because of your efforts.”
3. Harry Reid
Retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) left quite the legacy in Nevada. Despite the product of this election being a dominant Republican government, Democrats had a field day in Nevada and it’s all thanks to Reid.
Reid used his political power and overwhelming clout to propel Catherine Cortez Masto in taking his Senate seat, defeating Republican challenger and U.S. Army Brigadier General Joe Heck. But it didn’t stop there.
State Sen. Ruben Kihuen unseated Rep. Cresent Hardy. Democrat Jacky Rosen trounced Republican Danny Tarkanian as well.
In addition, Nevada Democrats took back control of both House in the state legislature. Harry Reid left the Senate at the top of his game with a hefty pile of success stories in his home state.
The “Never Trump” movement was founded on the principle that Donald Trump could not and would not become President of the United States.
Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol was Trump’s loudest opposition, going as far as to help form an Independent candidate for president to spoil the election. Kristol’s candidate, former House Republican Conference chief policy director and CIA operative Evan McMullin, ultimately failed in his bid. Trump ended up running the table in Utah, where McMullin had the most traction.
And to my fellow #NeverTrumpers: Let us be magnanimous losers.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) November 9, 2016
Ben Sasse, the freshman GOP senator from Nebraska who became the most prominent Never Trumper in Congress, said he would look elsewhere if Trump earned the Republican nomination.
In an interview with Independent Journal Review last February, Sasse said:
“I think political parties are tools and when they’re useful, they should be employed. And if they stop fighting for the things that we care about, then the tools need to be rethought.”
That tone changed Wednesday morning when Sasse issued a statement of congratulations to Trump, wishing his family the best in their transition to power. Sasse also vowed to hold the incoming Trump administration accountable.
“I will do everything to hold the President to his promises: to fight for an ethics reform package that upends cronyism and enacts term limits; to lead on repealing and replacing Obamacare; and to nominate judges who reject law-making by unelected courts,” Sasse’s statement read.
The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare,” was collapsing long before Election Day. But President Obama’s signature law had more than just economic consequences, it had political ones as well.
Republican Rep. Todd Young campaigned hard against Evan Bayh in Indiana’s Senate race by focusing on the former senator’s support for Obamacare in 2009 and 2010. Young wiped the floor with Bayh in the Hoosier state, beating him by double digits.
Now that Republicans maintained their control of the Senate and House of Representatives, along with a Republican president, the prospect of finally repealing the Affordable Care Act once and for all is a very likely possibility.
3. Celebrities Who Threatened to Move to Canada
Scores of left-leaning actors and musicians threatened to pack their bags and move north to Canada if Trump won the presidency. While this trend is fairly common in Hollywood every election cycle, the high-profile celebrities who promised to move to Canada were out in full force in 2016.
HBO’s “Girls” star Lena Dunham said in April that she would leave the country if Trump won. “I know a lot of people have been threatening to do this, but I really will,” Dunham told E! channel host Andy Cohen at the Matrix Awards.
Talk show host and comedian Chelsea Handler said she would move to the home she purchased “in another country just in case.”
The list of celebrities who threatened to move out of the United States if Trump won is long, but only time will tell if they actually follow through with it.