During this historic campaign, we witnessed so many moments of mudslinging and division—and a sense of frustration on both sides. With respect for our leaders tarnished, people searched for someone and something new, a political outsider who might touch the chords of hope and change in a more dramatic, even radical, key.
Many of the photographers who documented these extraordinary months captured this larger-than-life spirit of raw emotions and unforeseen characters by making images in bold styles. The campaign seemed to burn from their pictures: the voters in cartoonish costumes, the angry language of the t-shirts and signs, the sense of anger and violence that hovered over what might have been, in another year, Norman Rockwell scenes.
With that in mind we present TIME’s selection of the most unforgettable moments from the 2016 campaign, as curated by our photo editors. These pictures were taken by TIME’s photographers on assignment, and by journalists working for the news wires and newspapers around the country.
As we did with the last election, we’ve attempted to present readers with photographs that document a very specific time in our country’s history—a time of worry and frustration, a time of division and mistrust. The future will be the ultimate judge of what has happened in 2016, and these pictures will be part of the evidence that is weighed.
We’d like to thank all the photographers represented here for their generosity, creativity and passion. We’ve seen through their eyes the choice voters will make on November 8.
—With reporting from David Von Drehle