After a bruising battle, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has won enough delegates to clinch the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, ABC News projects based on exit polls and reporting.
Obama, D-Ill., becomes the first African-American major party presidential candidate in the nation's history.
But the candidate emerges battered after a bitter, five-month fight against Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who was vying to become the party's first female presidential nominee and was once considered the likely nominee.
Delivering soaring speeches tied to a popular message of hope and change, Obama's insurgent candidacy inspired record-breaking campaign contributions, record turnout by black voters, and wide support from independents, liberals, young voters, and high-income, better-educated Democrats.
Although he won the majority of primary contests — 33 to Clinton's 20, not including Michigan and Florida — the Illinois senator struggled to win the support of white, blue-collar voters, older voters and Hispanic voters.
The issue of race cropped up again and again for the man seeking to become the nation's first black president.
When tapes of Obama's longtime pastor excoriating America surfaced, the Illinois senator distanced himself from his pastor, and ultimately from his Chicago church, delivering a widely applauded speech on race and religion.
If Obama is elected president, he will be, at 47, among the youngest presidents in U.S. history. His Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would be the oldest presidential candidate to win a first term in office at age 72.