The largest field of Democratic presidential candidates in modern history has given voters heartburn for the last year, overwhelming them with a plethora of ideological and demographic choices.
But in the 48 hours after former Vice President Joe BidenJoe Biden Democratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super TuesdayJuan Williams: Will the GOP ever curb Trump?Obama called Biden to congratulate him after South Carolina victory: reportMOREs big victory in South Carolinas primary, the battle for the Democratic nomination came into stark focus.
Biden is now the clear establishment pick in what is quickly becoming a two-person race with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThis week: House eyes vote on emergency coronavirus funding Democratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super TuesdayJudd Gregg: Trump and Pelosi Who’s crazy now?MORE (I-Vt.), the frontrunner so far who seems poised for a big night on Super Tuesday.
The Democratic establishment lined up behind Biden on Monday he raked in endorsements while second-tier candidates dropped by the wayside.  
Just weeks ago, Bidens campaign seemed on life support. He finished a disappointing fourth in Iowa, did not qualify for delegates in New Hampshire and placed a distant second in Nevada. At times, it appeared his long-touted firewall of African American voters in South Carolina was cracking under Sanderss sustained assault.
Bidens hopes were rescued by Rep. Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnBiden sets sights on key Super Tuesday states amid newfound momentum5 takeaways from the South Carolina primaryOn The Trail: Steyer’s flop a warning to BloombergMORE (D-S.C.), whose influential endorsement days before the Palmetto States primary vaulted the former vice president back into the lead. He took nearly half the vote there on Saturday, winning nearly two-thirds of the delegates on offer and vaulting him into second place behind Sanders in the hunt for delegates.
The results convinced billionaire former hedge fund manager Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerButtigieg dropping out of presidential raceThe Franken-Biden rises!Trump knocks Steyer after Democrat drops out of race: ‘Go away’MORE to quit the race Saturday, former Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul Buttigieg Democratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super TuesdayTrump: Buttigieg dropping out is start of Dems ‘taking Bernie out of play’Buttigieg dropping out of presidential raceMORE to end his campaign on Sunday night, and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean Klobuchar Democratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super TuesdayKlobuchar cancels campaign rally after protestsBiden calls for end to humanitarian crisis in GazaMORE (D-Minn.) to drop out Monday. Klobuchar said she would endorse Biden; Buttigieg is expected to do so as well.
They joined a cascade of current and former party leaders lining up behind Biden just hours before the polls open on Super Tuesday: Reps. Gil CisnerosGilbert (Gil) Ray CisnerosMORE (D-Calif.) and Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarDemocrats call for Twitter, Facebook to take down Pelosi video posted by Trump El Paso Walmart shooting suspect charged under federal hate crime lawThe Hill’s Morning Report – Icy moments between Trump, Pelosi mark national addressMORE (D-Texas), Sens. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthJoe Walsh ends GOP primary challenge to TrumpIllinois senators meet with Amtrak CEO over ,000 price tag for wheelchair usersDemocrats ask Amtrak to review policies after wheelchair users quoted K ticket priceMORE (D-Ill.) and Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael Kaine Democratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super TuesdayBiden sets sights on key Super Tuesday states amid newfound momentumOn The Trail: Steyer’s flop a warning to BloombergMORE (D-Va.), and former Sens. Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTo winnow primary field, Obama and other Democrats must speak out The Hill’s Campaign Report: Gloves off in South CarolinaDemocratic insiders stay on the sidelines in 2020 raceMORE (D-Nev.) and Mark UdallMark Emery UdallDemocrats will win back the Senate majority in 2020, all thanks to President TrumpPoll: Trump trails three Democrats by 10 points in ColoradoThe Hill’s Morning Report Trump and the new Israel-‘squad’ controversy MORE (D-Colo.).
Ten days ago people were asking if Biden would even make it to Super Tuesday, and now 12 hours before polls open and three of his rivals drop out, two endorsed him, he picked up about a dozen congressional endorsements, a few senators and the former leader of the Senate Democratic caucus, said Lily Adams, who ran communications for Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi Harris Democratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super TuesdayThe Memo: Biden needs blowout SC win to reshape raceThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South CarolinaMOREs (D-Calif.) presidential campaign. Its like the 12 days of political Christmas for Joe Biden wrapped up into the last 90 minutes.
The crystalizing rush of action in the hours before Super Tuesday voters get to weigh in reflected both the narrow paths to the nomination that candidates like Buttigieg and Klobuchar faced, even after their impressive showings in early states, and rising concerns within the Democratic Partys more moderate leadership that Sanders cannot win a general election.
But it is not clear that the bandwagon-jumping came soon enough to deny Sanders what is likely to be a strong performance in Super Tuesday states across the country. Millions of votes have already been cast in states like California, Texas and North Carolina, the biggest prizes on the line. Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael Rubens Bloomberg Democratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super TuesdayBiden calls for end to humanitarian crisis in GazaButtigieg dropping out of presidential raceMORE remains in the race, after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on television advertising.
It is also not certain what role another prominent candidate, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann Warren Democratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super TuesdayButtigieg dropping out of presidential raceSanders, Warren tied in Massachusetts: pollMORE (D-Mass.), will play on Tuesday. Warren has positioned herself as Sanderss ideological equal, but in reality she has competed for votes with Buttigieg and Klobuchar.
Tomorrow well get a sense if its enough for [Biden] and he will either ride a wave or hit a wall, but its hard to imagine a better lead up, Adams said.
The frenetic actions in the last hours before Super Tuesday stand in stark contrast with the Republican race four years ago, when so many candidates continued their increasingly long-shot bids in hopes of becoming the last person not named Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House eyes vote on emergency coronavirus funding Democratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super TuesdayJudd Gregg: Trump and Pelosi Who’s crazy now?MORE in the race. By the time the race was down to two non-Trump contenders, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe 14 other key races to watch on Super TuesdayRepublicans give 2024 tryouts at CPACGOP chairwoman suggests RNC plans to get ‘litigious’ over push for national popular voteMORE (R-Texas) and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), Trump had effectively locked up the race.
In 2016, too many Republicans believed for far too long that Trump couldn’t win the GOP nomination, and never coalesced around a single alternative candidate, said Michael Steel, a Republican strategist who worked for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bushs (R) campaign. 
The mainstream Democratic candidates are dropping out and endorsing the Democratic candidate they now see as most likely to beat Trump, before the crucial primaries that could yield Sen. Sanders a plurality of the delegates needed for the nomination, Steel said. They may not be successful, but they are putting what they see as the best interests of the Democratic party, and the country, ahead of their own self-interest.
Still, Biden has work to do before he reclaims his position as the races front-runner. He will fall behind Sanders in the delegate race when Tuesdays votes are counted, potentially by a significant margin. The race is then likely to become a long slog toward Milwaukee, heading through six contests on March 10, another four on March 17 and eleven more in April.
Biden had several of the best fundraising days of his entire campaign over the weekend, pulling in $5 million each on successive days. But Sanderss fundraising juggernaut hauled in $46 million for the month of February, a mind-blowing pace that shows the power of the movement he has spent five years building.
The sprawling Democratic field has finally winnowed itself. Unlike Republicans, they have done so long before anyone can call themselves a presumptive nominee. But like Republicans, many nervous Democrats are still wondering whether they waited too long.