SPONSORED:

Revolution forecast: When a tsunami becomes a thunderstorm

Ten days ago, Democrats were ducking for cover, convinced that a Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOcasio-Cortez rolls out Twitch channel to urge voting Calls grow for Democrats to ramp up spending in Texas The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Tipping point week for Trump, Biden, Congress, voters MORE (I-Vt.) rebellion was not only insufferable but inevitable, and fearful that this one-person tsunami would create a landslide defeat of epic proportions.

Last night (and continuing into this dawn of a new day), we are discovering Bernie’s tempest could prove to be no more than a thunderstorm, a jarring gust on the route to nominating a well-known centrist over a well-documented socialist.

You could feel the tidal shift over the past few days, when Biden went from nearly vanquished to fully vaunted, when South Carolinians rewarded years of knowing former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally MORE (and esteeming Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDemocrats make gains in Georgia Senate races: poll 'Democrat-run cities' fuel the economy, keep many red states afloat Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE) with a James Clyburn-led sweep of every county and every major voting bloc.

ADVERTISEMENT

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegLGBTQ voters must show up at the polls, or risk losing progress Buttigieg says it's time to 'turn the page' on Trump administration Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 MORE did his part — Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDurbin signals he isn't interested in chairing Judiciary Committee Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing MORE (D-Minn.) too — by compressing the moderate muddle in the middle from four candidates to two, a reverse passing of the baton from younger to older, from the current generation to the last one.

Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergEverytown hits GOP on gun safety in closing .5M battleground ad barrage A closing argument: Why voters cannot trust Trump on healthcare Biden campaign swamps Trump on TV airwaves MORE has also played a vital role in this return to yesteryear, with a deadly debate performance that even a $600-million ad campaign couldn’t atone for, or explain away.

Discounting the continuation and/or relevance of Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenJustice Department charges Google with illegally maintaining search monopoly Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing MORE (D.Mass.) moving forward (losing may be the only thing for which she hadn’t fleshed out a plan), we are looking at a mano-a-mano, Bernie v. Biden contest, movement versus establishment, visceral versus the venerable.

Ten days ago, that felt like an unfair fight. Now it looks like a war between the populism of the moment and the pragmatism of the morning after.

After California came up big for Sanders to blunt a Biden bonanza further east — this much we know:

ADVERTISEMENT

One — The establishment may be teetering, but it’s not finished. Not yet. Biden may be lacking youth and lightning round acuity, but he now stands as the last great hope of a generation of political leaders built from character and motivated to serve others.

Two — The insurgency is far from done. Sanders may or may not become the nominee of the party whose poohbahs dislike him, but to see a 78-year-old pol perform like a 28-year-old crusader is something to behold. His overflow rallies confirm it, and his share of the popular vote validates it. Win or lose, like him or not, every American for four years has had a turn feeling the Bern.

Three — Wither goeth Elizabeth Warren? Does she remain in the race with a reed-thin rationale that she is the only viable woman left, play attack dog against brother Biden in the debate to come, or does she endorse her ideological soulmate Sanders, despite bruised feelings from an emotional primary?

Four — Can Joe Biden beat Bernie Sanders in Michigan, roll out of Florida a week later with an even bigger win, and pull ahead of Bernie in the pre-Convention delegate and popular vote count? If so, Biden cements a legitimate claim to the throne. If not, watch out.

The Sanders team knows what it feels like to be taken out of play by rules they didn’t make, created by people they’ve never liked. If he survives the primary season, even by one delegate over Biden, Bernie won’t just ride off into the sunset — he’ll command the bully pulpit with a moral bullhorn, cheered on by equally bullish believers.

As Super Tuesday gives way to the still-counting Wednesday, the prime combatants — like the stakes — have never been clearer. And the weather forecast? You called it: strong chance of rain.

Adam Goodman is a national Republican media strategist who has advised Rudy GiulianiJohn McCain and Jeb Bush. He is the first Edward R. Murrow Senior Fellow at Tufts University's Fletcher School. Follow him on Twitter @adamgoodman3