Bernie Sanders’s self-proclaimed “political revolution” crashed into a wall of resistance inside the Democratic Party last night.
After a remarkable 72 hours that saw top party leaders consolidate behind Joe Biden, a panoramic array of key party voting groups coalesced around the former vice president—and against Sanders—in the coast-to-coast competition, according to exit polls conducted in almost all the states that voted. Biden captured at least nine of the 14 states voting, including some—such as Minnesota and Oklahoma—where Sanders won big in 2016.
The surprisingly decisive result left Sanders, a candidate who prides himself on his pile-driver-like consistency, facing a new challenge: finding a second act that can appeal to voters beyond the fervid base he has established. The evening’s clearest message was that while the senator from Vermont has inspired a passionate depth of support, the breadth of his coalition remains too limited to win the nomination.
Sanders reached 33 percent or more of the vote in just five of the 14 states that voted, including his home state; beyond Vermont, he did not exceed 36 percent, his share in Colorado. Biden had a higher ceiling: He won at least 39 percent in seven states and roughly a third of the vote in three others. Stanley B. Greenberg, a veteran Democratic pollster, argued that Super Tuesday’s results establish Biden as the clear front-runner for the nomination at the convention in July.