WASHINGTON • Mr Joe Biden cemented a remarkable comeback on the biggest primary night of the Democratic presidential campaign with victories in nine states across the US, including upsets in Texas and Massachusetts, even as Mr Bernie Sanders took the biggest prize of the night, California.
Mr Biden, whose campaign was faltering just days ago, scored wins in Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama and Minnesota. His victories in Texas and Massachusetts were especially stinging for Mr Sanders, who had supplanted Mr Biden at the top of polls in recent weeks.
"Just a few days ago, the press and the pundits had declared the campaign dead," Mr Biden told supporters in Los Angeles. "I am here to report, we are very much alive."
The results are setting up a one-on-one battle for the Democratic presidential nomination between Mr Biden and Mr Sanders.
In the crucial Super Tuesday primaries in the 14 states, Democratic voters, singularly obsessed with defeating President Donald Trump, finally began coalescing around their candidate.
Still, there is a long road ahead for former vice-president Biden.
His chief rival, Mr Sanders, won California - the biggest prize of the entire nominating race - where a runaway victory could give the Vermont senator enough delegates to blunt Mr Biden's gains on Tuesday.
In a surprisingly strong showing, Mr Biden rolled to victories across the South, Midwest and New England on the biggest day of voting in the Democratic campaign. Americans in the 14 states cast ballots to select a challenger to Republican President Trump in the Nov 3 presidential election.
Along with California, Mr Sanders picked up wins in Colorado, Utah and his home state of Vermont. Maine was the only one of the 14 Super Tuesday states that remained too close to call.
It was another disappointing night for Senator Elizabeth Warren, who could do no better than third in any state - including her home of Massachusetts.
Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg picked up delegates in several states - including California - but he barely made a mark in the race despite spending more than US$500 million (S$693 million).
Mr Bloomberg suspended his campaign and endorsed Mr Biden yesterday, while Ms Warren will now likely confront questions about whether she should continue in the race.
Mr Biden's victories were built off his decisive win last Saturday in South Carolina, which followed campaign stumbles and disappointing results in the first three contests of the nomination race.
After the South Carolina result, Democratic Party leaders and many voters rallied around Mr Biden as the moderate alternative to Mr Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who is seen by the party establishment as too far left to defeat Mr Trump in November and help the Democrats in Congress.
Mr Pete Buttigieg and Ms Amy Klobuchar, who were competing with Mr Biden for moderate voters, fell in line by dropping out and endorsing the former vice-president.
Television network exit polls showed Mr Biden benefited from his South Carolina revival.
Almost 30 per cent of voters in Super Tuesday states made their pick in the last few days, according to early results from exit polls of voters in 12 states reported by NBC.
The late deciders overwhelmingly favoured Mr Biden: 47 per cent of those who decided in the last few days chose the former vice-president, compared to 21 per cent for Mr Sanders, 14 per cent for Ms Warren and 11 per cent for Mr Bloomberg.
Mr Biden also had an advantage with African-American voters, who make up a sizeable portion of the Democratic electorate in Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Arkansas.
He won 63 per cent of the black vote in Virginia and North Carolina, according to exit polls reported by CNN. That will also help later in the month when major caches of delegates will be available in primaries in Michigan, Florida, Illinois and Ohio.
Still, the Democratic nomination race has been marked by twists and turns, and there may yet be drama ahead if neither Mr Biden nor Mr Sanders can win a clear majority of delegates in the remaining contests.
Mr Sanders and Mr Biden headed into the night close in delegate tallies.
Mr Sanders emerged from the first four contests with 60 delegates, but Mr Biden's big win in South Carolina last Saturday brought him within six delegates of his chief rival. The final allocations of the 1,357 delegates available on Super Tuesday - one-third of the total - might not be known for days as officials sort results at both the state and district level.