AP Count: Clinton hits 'magic number' of delegates to clinch nom - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

AP Count: Clinton hits 'magic number' of delegates to clinch nomination

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(NBC) -

by CARRIE DANN

Hillary Clinton has secured a majority of delegates to the Democratic National Convention, according to a count by The Associated Press, which declared the former secretary of state the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party on Monday.

To win the nomination, a candidate must secure a majority of all delegates, or 2,383. But 15 percent of the total delegate pool is made up of superdelegates — current and former elected officials and party activists who aren't bound to vote for the candidate selected by voters in their home state's primary.

Many — but not all — of the Democratic superdelegates have publicly declared their support for either Clinton or her rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

According to the AP, Clinton's win in the Puerto Rico primary — where 60 unpledged delegates were at stake — pushed her total, including hundreds of superdelegates, beyond 2,383.

Clinton's clinching of the nomination wasn't unexpected, but the timing of the AP's decision was earlier than anticipated. Clinton was widely expected to reach the 2,383 threshold on Tuesday, when six states hold their nominating contests on one of the final primary nights of the race.

The final Democratic primary will be held on June 14 in the District of Columbia.

Sanders has long protested that the superdelegate system fails to reflect the will of the voters. He has argued that superdelegates can switch their votes at any time before the Democratic National Convention in July.

While Sanders is correct that superdelegates can switch their votes, there is no precedent for a huge number of superdelegates' switching sides. In the 2008 Democratic race, when superdelegates made up 20 percent of the delegate pool, no more than about 30 switched their support from Clinton to Barack Obama. What's more, Obama then led among pledged delegates even when superdelegates weren't included in the total count.

Sanders, on the other hands, trails Clinton significantly among pledged delegates, as well as in the total delegate count.

Sanders' continued objections to party rules presents a maddening problem for Clinton, who has already sought to focus her energies on the general election matchup against Donald Trump.

But while Trump has largely been able to unite the Republican Party despite major ideological rifts with party leaders, Clinton risks alienating Sanders and his supporters by dismissing a campaign that far exceeded its quixotic beginning in fundraising and voter enthusiasm.

What's more, Sanders hopes to notch a victory in Tuesday's California primary, in which polls have shown the candidates in a dead heat.

Despite urging from party elders that Sanders exit the race, a win in the large and diverse state would bolster his case to remain a candidate until the convention in hope of influencing the party's platform, swaying superdelegates and even contesting Clinton's nomination on the floor.

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