Hillary Clinton is now the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party, and the first woman to top a major US party ticket. The former Secretary of State is estimated to have secured the 2,383 delegates she needs to clinch the nomination, putting her well ahead of rival Bernie Sanders after a contentious primary season. Though Sanders insists he’s still taking the fight to the Democratic Convention next month, Clinton is now set to face presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in the general election.
"For the first time in our history, a woman will be a major party's nominee for President of the United States," Clinton said tonight in a victory speech. Prior to appearing on stage, Clinton's campaign noted her victory in a tweet that said "history is made." She also personally addressed women and girls across the country in a tweet alluding to her victory:
To every little girl who dreams big: Yes, you can be anything you want—even president. Tonight is for you. -H pic.twitter.com/jq7fKlfwGV— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 8, 2016
The Associated Press and NBC News both independently reported that Clinton had clinched the nomination last night, with each outlet stating new pledges from more than a dozen superdelegates helped put her over the top. The news prompted news publications to crown her the presumptive nominee well before polls opened today, leading many to criticize both the press and the Democratic Party for the outcome. Clinton is projected to have won the New Jersey primary; as of now, results are outstanding in several other contests, including the major battleground of California. But even those results appear moot; Clinton is further ahead of Sanders at this point than Obama led Clinton in the 2008 election, and Sanders would somehow need to convince a staggering number of superdelegates to join his side by the Democratic Convention, making Clinton's path to victory all but official. "I want to congratulate Senator Sanders on the extraordinary campaign he has run," Clinton said tonight.
It's been a long road for Clinton after losing to Obama in 2008
It has been a long road to this point for Clinton, whose dreams for claiming the White House were first dashed after her loss to President Obama in 2008. After announcing her second campaign last April, she swiftly took the lead in the early months of the race. However, the gap closed after Sanders emerged as her main rival for the nomination, riding a wave of populist support born out of his strong progressive agenda and his campaign’s expert use of social media. Sanders’ rise undermined the image of Clinton sailing to the nomination as if by mandate, and eventually saw divisions being drawn within the party between those who appreciated Clinton’s experience and those attracted to Sanders’ ideals.
Indeed, the perception that she was too close to what was presumed to be a corrupt and inept Washington elite — in addition to a number of unforced errors as well as the ongoing email server scandal — allowed Sanders to stay competitive over the last several months. Though Clinton won many major contests thanks to strong support in large states with large minority populations, Sanders was able to draw larger crowds thanks to his young and vocal base.
Going forward, Clinton will need to turn her attention to a Trump campaign that has inflamed a reactionary base with racist and sexist rhetoric. She has already earned the endorsements of such prominent party figures as Nancy Pelosi and businesspeople like Warren Buffett, and has pledged to reach out to Sanders in the name of fostering unity. But tonight, Clinton is poised to take a hard-earned victory lap.
Update June 7th, 10:16PM ET: This story has been updated to include remarks from Hillary Clinton's speech.