Biden has broken all the 'rules' of presidential primaries

Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks Biden set to make risky economic argument against Trump Hillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel MORE continued his once-improbable march to the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, trouncing Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel Biden wins Hawaii primary Warren to host high-dollar fundraiser for Biden MORE (I-Vt.) in major primaries, with a decent turnout despite the coronavirus pandemic.

A landslide in Florida, with the third-most Democratic convention delegates, and a decisive victory in Illinois, with the sixth-largest bloc, gives the former vice president a delegate lead of more than 300, and he'll rack up even more with a clear win in Arizona — a clean sweep.

Because of the deadly pandemic, Ohio called off its presidential primary yesterday, and the Georgia contest next week also has been postponed. In that context, turnout was surprisingly high in Florida and Arizona. This reflects the intensity Democrats feel this year.

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It is virtually impossible for Sanders to catch Biden now, regardless of when primaries are held. The Vermont socialist will likely now focus on pressuring Biden and the party to move left.

Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip What does Joe Biden believe about NASA, space exploration and commercial space? The star of tomorrow: Temptation and a career in politics reporting MORE's vice president will have to delicately handle his appeal to the Sanders wing while not turning off independent-minded voters who want to get rid of Trump.

But wrapping up the nod this early makes the task easier.

The Biden turnaround, going from front-runner a year ago to a failed candidacy a month ago, to inevitable nominee today, is unprecedented in American politics.

Every rule I learned in covering presidential politics for almost a half century has been broken, including:

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No one loses both Iowa and New Hampshire and wins the nomination. An also-ran in these first contests loses momentum, money and political support. Serious contenders failed miserably to jump start campaigns. For the Democrats in 1976, Sen. Henry Jackson skipped New Hampshire — and when Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterHave the courage to recognize Taiwan Respect your Elders — a call to action Poll: Trump and Biden running neck and neck in Georgia MORE won the Granite State, it effectively ended Jackson's hopes. In 2008, the early Republican front-runner Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase Moussaoui says he now renounces terrorism, bin Laden Democrats launch probe into Trump's firing of State Department watchdog, Pompeo MORE — really he once was a serious person — figured he'd take off in the big Florida primary. But after John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip What does Joe Biden believe about NASA, space exploration and commercial space? The Memo: Activists press Biden on VP choice MORE won New Hampshire, support for “America’s Mayor” plummeted; he dropped out nine days before the Florida primary. Biden, however, finished fourth in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire and is now on his way to November.

Endorsements don’t really matter in the modern media age. Witness the last two presidents. In 2007, the establishment candidate, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Stakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff MORE, cornered scores of high-level endorsements — far more than Barack Obama — to little avail. Four years ago, about the only top Republican to endorse Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE was Alabama Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Trump hits Biden and Obama in defense of his golfing Biden swipes at Trump: 'Presidency is about a lot more than tweeting from your golf cart' MORE. (The president showed his sense of loyalty this month by endorsing Sessions' opponent in a primary.) Then there was Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnScalise blasts Democrats for calling on certain companies to return PPP loans Harris, Warren seen as top candidates to be Biden VP House coronavirus panel demands large corporations return stimulus funds meant for small businesses MORE. Joe Biden might have won the South Carolina primary last month anyway — but the eloquent endorsement of Rep. Clyburn, the most important African American office holder in the party, generated the Biden avalanche in South Carolina, carrying over to Super Tuesday three days later.

Money is the mother's milk of politics, especially if one candidate has a lot, the other very little. By Super Tuesday, Mike Bloomberg was spending more than a half a billion dollars, while Biden was too strapped to even have offices in some of the states in play. Biden won 10 of 14 states that day, picking up 632 delegates. Bloomberg won American Somoa. The “Big Mo” triumphed — momentum not money.

Democrats — in a change election — turn to younger, outside-the-Beltway candidates. Think Jimmy Carter, Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonNo 'dole' for America: How to recover from COVID-19 Biden set to make risky economic argument against Trump Blair questions Trump approach to coronavirus pandemic MORE, Barack Obama. They conveyed change, a new day. This time, the party is turning to a 77-year-old who was first elected to the Senate before any of the current members of Congress arrived.

The answer lies in Democratic voters who passionately want change — to defeat the incumbent.

They've come to see Biden as the antidote to Trump: honorable, experienced, sound and decent.

Al Hunt is the former executive editor of Bloomberg News. He previously served as reporter, bureau chief and Washington editor for the Wall Street Journal. For almost a quarter century he wrote a column on politics for The Wall Street Journal, then the International New York Times and Bloomberg View. Follow him on Twitter @AlHuntDC.