Joe Biden, derisively called “Sleepy Joe” by Trump, and written off as politically dead by pundits just a few days ago, leaped ahead of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic nomination race on Super Tuesday by sweeping the South and winning the home states of two other erstwhile candidates (Klobuchar’s Minnesota and Warren’s Massachusetts).

Biden, who had never before won a primary in his three runs for the White House, won 10 of them yesterday.

He now leads in delegates, 506 to Sanders’ 455; Elizabeth Warren, the only other major candidate still in the race, has 42. Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Bloomberg have already dropped out, and it’s likely Warren will now, too.

The emerging Biden-Sanders contest mirrors the centrist-progressive fault line running through the Democratic Party — a split that pits young against old, and black voters (who favor Biden) against Hispanic voters (who favor Sanders).

These dynamics helped Sanders carry a geographic belt stretching from Nevada through Utah to Colorado. Sanders, who is from Vermont, also won his home state and neighboring New Hampshire on Super Tuesday, but he lost Massachusetts to Biden and trails in Maine.

The biggest Super Tuesday prize, delegate-rich California, was undecided Wednesday because of slow ballot counting, but Sanders leads there. However, it’s not winner-take-all; Biden will also harvest a large delegate trove from that state.

The battle for the Democratic nomination pits centrists and progressives against each other, and with all the other centrist candidates now out of the race and united behind Biden, he has the edge. Biden also has been the strongest Democratic candidate against Trump in polls of likely voters, and is widely thought more likely to defeat Trump than Sanders, which is an important part of his appeal to many Democratic primary voters.

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