For Joe Biden, Super Tuesday turned out to be super indeed. Preliminary results from the 14 states that held their primaries yesterday suggest that the former vice-president has staged a remarkable comeback in the race to secure the Democratic party’s presidential nomination. It follows a landslide win in South Carolina four days ago and will mollify critics who believed that early stumbles would doom his candidacy. "South Carolina started the fire," Fernando Mercado, state director of Biden's campaign in Virginia, told me at an official party in state capital Richmond last night. He called Super Tuesday “the wildfire that's going to make Joe Biden our nominee".
If Democrats wanted a robust and legitimate debate between the progressive and moderate wings of their party, now they have it. Biden is effectively tied with Bernie Sanders, the progressive senator from Vermont, in the delegate count for the nomination. That should calm the nerves of moderate voters, who worried that too many centrist candidates would split the vote and propel Sanders to the nomination by default (a scenario that befell Republicans in 2016 and allowed Donald Trump to rise to the top).
And spare a thought for Michael Bloomberg, whose name appeared on ballot papers for the first time in the cycle yesterday. The billionaire former mayor of New York had staked his entire candidacy, and $500m (€450m) of his own funds, on Super Tuesday success; no other candidate has attempted such a strategy, and it doesn't appear to have paid off. Bloomberg is said to be re-assessing his campaign and his poor showing, fuelled in part by two uninspiring debate performances in recent weeks, surely dooms this most unusual of candidacies.