Hillary Clinton has clinched the Democratic presidential nomination winning over the delegates she needs to be the party's candidate in the White House election in November, the Associated Press and other US media declared last night.
Mrs Clinton becomes the presumptive Democratic nominee and the first woman to lead a major party into a US presidential election, eight years after she lost the Democratic race to Barack Obama in her first bid for the White House.
The former US secretary of state should be formally confirmed as the nominee at the party's national convention in Philadelphia which starts on July 25th.
The watershed moment all but concludes a bruising Democratic primary battle and allows Mrs Clinton to pivot towards the five-month general election campaign against the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
The announcement came a day earlier than expected, as Mrs Clinton was in line to secure the nomination in the final six state contests voting today - California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and North and South Dakota.
Ahead of those votes, the Associated Press found that she had secured enough pledged delegates in 44 state votes along with super-delegates - party leaders and elected officials - to reach the required 2,383 delegates to take the nomination.
Other media, including NBC News and CNN, later confirmed Mrs Clinton’s presumptive victory in delegate counts of their own.
She was just 23 delegates short of the crucial number following her victory in Puerto Rico’s Democratic presidential primary on Sunday and she received enough commitments from super-delegates on Monday to win the nomination.
The 68-year-old politician declared herself “flattered” in a tweet in response to the announcement but kept her focus on the final state votes today.
“According to the news, we are on the brink of a historic, historic unprecedented moment, but we still have work to do, don’t we?” she told supporters at a campaign rally in Long Beach, California last night.
“We have six elections tomorrow and we’re going to fight hard for every single vote, especially right here in California.”
The historic moment is a blow to Vermont senator Bernie Sanders who was hoping to secure a win in California, the most populous US state and the biggest Democratic primary with 475 delegates at stake, to prolong his campaign.
AP put Mrs Clinton’s support among pledged delegates at 1,812 and super-delegates at 571, giving her a total of 2,383, compared with 1,521 pledged delegates and 48 super-delegates, totalling 1,569, for Mr Sanders.
"This is an important milestone, but there are six states that are voting [ON]Tuesday with millions of people heading to the polls, and Hillary Clinton is working to earn every vote," said her campaign manager Robby Mook.
Mr Sanders (74) pushed back at the announcement refusing to relent on his plan to convince super-delegates at the convention that he is the strongest candidate to beat Mr Trump based on hypothetical head-to-head polls.
"It is unfortunate that the media, in a rush to judgment, are ignoring the Democratic national committee's clear statement that it is wrong to count the votes of super-delegates before they actually vote at the convention this summer," said his campaign spokesman Michael Briggs in a statement.
“Secretary Clinton does not have and will not have the requisite number of pledged delegates to secure the nomination. She will be dependent on super-delegates who do not vote until July 25th and who can change their minds between now and then.”
The Sanders campaign has argued that more than 400 super-delegates endorsed Mrs Clinton 10 months before the first caucuses and primaries began on February 1st, and before any other candidate was in the race.
The self-professed democratic socialist, an independent and quarter-century veteran of the US congress, has run a surprisingly strong race against a candidate considered a near-certainty for the Democratic nomination on a campaign that has won over the support of young voters and grassroots progressives.
Mr Sanders’s plans to introduce free universal healthcare and college education along with his criticism of a “corrupt” campaign finance system and powerful big corporations helped him win over .
Mrs Clinton's strong support among African-American and Hispanic voters and her victories across the American South and in the big states of New York, Texas, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania left her with an unassailable lead.
She is due to hold an election night party near her campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York tonight following the final day of multi-state votes.
The District of Columbia will hold the final Democratic primary on June 14th.