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EDITORIAL: Democratic moderates stage their own revolution

The momentum for the American version of a leftist revolution appears to have been greatly exaggerated — much like reports of Joe Biden’s demise.

After carving a clear path to the Democratic presidential nomination with his dominant performance in the Nevada caucuses, Sen. Bernie Sanders sat poised to grab a virtually insurmountable delegate advantage on Super Tuesday. But faced with the very real possibility of an unapologetic socialist at the top of the ticket, traditional Democrats staged a coup of their own.

The beneficiary was Mr. Biden. The former vice president — with fresh momentum after his South Carolina victory on Saturday and benefiting from the consolidation of the crowded field — won 10 of 15 primaries Tuesday, including Texas. Despite being given up for dead after awful showings in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, Mr. Biden has now emerged as his party’s lone alternative to Sen. Sanders’ progressive extremism.

The Vermont socialist did manage to win delegate-rich California. But even with that boost, he now trails Mr. Biden in the overall delegate count, 566-501 (with 1,991 needed to secure the nomination). With 86 other delegates pledged to candidates who have since dropped out to support Mr. Biden, the lead is likely larger.

The setback is even more significant for Sen. Sanders considering that the upcoming primary states of Michigan, Florida, Ohio and Illinois — all with significant delegate counts — are not socialist hotbeds. In particular, Florida Democrats may not be enamored of Sen. Sanders’ recurring apologia for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Establishment Democrats are breathing easier as party moderates coalesce behind Mr. Biden. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced his withdrawal from the race on Wednesday (so much for billionaires buying elections), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren appears on the verge of a similar decision. That would make this a two-man campaign in which it will be easier for Mr. Biden to offer the party faithful a clear contrast to Sen. Sanders’ angry radicalism.

“Only the party’s moderate wing,” The Wall Street Journal’s William A. Galston wrote on Wednesday “is capable of putting forward a Democratic nominee in touch with the majority of the American people.”

Perhaps. But it would be a mistake to count out Sen. Sanders. He has the organization and will to persevere. Meanwhile, Mr. Biden has been a decadeslong gaffe machine, and the scrutiny will only intensify. But Tuesday’s results indicate that Democrats may have a Silent Majority of their own — and it’s not prepared to cede the party to a former Soviet sympathizer preaching about dismantling free markets and capitalism.

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