SWEET RELIEF. Super Tuesday was the worst setback for left-wing populism since Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party crashed and burned. But while the voters have handed Joe Biden another chance, it’s important to recognize why they’ve had doubts.

From the start of this election cycle, majorities of Democrats had signaled that their highest priority was beating President Donald Trump. Not “Medicare for All.” Not the Green New Deal. Not a federally guaranteed $15 an hour job. A March 2019 USA Today/Suffolk poll was typical: By 55 to 35, voters said they preferred a candidate who could beat Trump to one who shared their own policy views.

That overriding goal likely explained Biden’s catapult to the top of the field after his announcement, and his steady dominance throughout 2019.

Then came impeachment. The president’s trial sucked Biden into the vortex as Republicans repeated unfounded allegations about the former vice president’s conduct vis a vis Burisma. It was low politics that shouldn’t have succeeded, but, arguably, it did. Also, Biden flubbed it. He could have said: “Look at how desperate Trump is not to face me in November! I never attempted to help Hunter by official acts. But Trump’s official act in strong-arming an ally to smear me is just one more example of his being unfit for the presidency. If you vote for me, I will never disgrace the office.” Instead, we got weeks of falsehoods about Biden and Ukraine (just what Trump ordered) and only limp responses from Biden himself.

With the front-runner looking suddenly diminished, voters cast their eyes left and right for options — like a quarterback trying to get rid of the ball while beefy linebackers are barreling toward him. Pete Buttigieg won Iowa; Elizabeth Warren got a temporary bump; Amy Klobuchar had a New Hampshire moment (this columnist had kind words for her); and Bernie Sanders moved steadily upward. In February, Mike Bloomberg briefly bloomed.

Then the Nevada caucuses delivered their chilling message: Unless all but one of the moderates in the race dropped out, Sanders was going to be coronated in Milwaukee. Mainstream Democrats felt their blood run cold. It wasn’t so much because Sanders’ policy views repelled them (though they should), but because they quite reasonably believed that their party was sleepwalking into nominating the one Democrat sure to lose to Trump in the general, one who might even endanger control of the House.

Among Never Trump Republicans and former Republicans, the sense of doom combined with sickening deja vu. Here again, it seemed, a major American political party would be dragged off the rails by a minority of zealots. A November choice between Trump and Sanders would be like hemlock or cyanide. Unquenchable grievances would characterize both parties, with the vast “exhausted majority” powerless to make its voice heard. That way lies madness.

Enter Rep. Jim Clyburn, the House majority whip. Clyburn didn’t just throw his support to Biden; he took him in hand. According to a Washington Post account, Clyburn was frank. You’re a compassionate guy. People like that about you. But they want a candidate with a bit more fight. And your speeches are too meandering. “There’s a reason preachers deliver their sermons in threes. You know, ‘The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.’” Biden listened. “I got it,” he said.

And it seems he did. He was crisp and forceful in the Feb. 25 debate, and that, combined with the power of Clyburn’s endorsement, got him a resounding victory in South Carolina.

Buttigieg and Klobuchar, who never agreed on much, resolved that withdrawing and backing Biden was the best thing they could do for themselves and for their party. If the ghosts of John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio stiffened their resolve, good.

There were only 60 hours between polls closing in South Carolina and the start of Super Tuesday voting. Yet the moderates in the Democratic Party used that time skillfully. The Biden endorsements flowed one after another, creating a bandwagon effect and demonstrating that leadership still matters. Bloomberg’s announcement that his resources will be put to use supporting Biden rebuts the cynical interpretation of his candidacy as a vanity project.

Biden has been given the greatest second chance in recent electoral history. He should tattoo the preachers’ rule of three on his hand.

Mona Charen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Her new book is “Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

IN THE SPRING, there was a shortage of vegetable seeds and now, I’m told, there is a shortage of canning jar lids. This doesn’t affect me, locked down in Manhattan, but it brings back memories of my childhood home, the half-acre garden, the big tomato, corn and cucumber crops, the steamy kit…

Sunday, September 20, 2020
Friday, September 18, 2020

WASHINGTON — California, our national warning, shows how unchecked progressives inflict progress. They have placed on November ballots Proposition 16 to repeal the state constitution’s provision, enacted by referendum in 1996, forbidding racial preferences in public education, employment and…

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

A CHILLY night in New York, fall in the air, geese winging along a flyway over West 91st, a lively crowd watching a playground basketball game. Unusual in these pandemic days, to hear a cheering crowd. We’ve been isolating here since March, avoiding the dread virus, leading a life more like …

Sunday, September 13, 2020

IF DONALD TRUMP loses the election, history will attribute his defeat to a pandemic that killed 200,000 Americans during his reelection campaign, and a historic depression deliberately induced to put the economy in a coma as the nation suffered through that pandemic.

Friday, September 11, 2020
Wednesday, September 09, 2020

IT’S GREAT to see an old, old magazine in headline news for something other than its obit and bravo to The Atlantic and Jeffrey Goldberg for the “losers” and “suckers” story on Trump and his contempt for military service or anything else nonprofitable. It’s been hot news for several days, it…

WHAT DO presidential candidates George H.W. Bush, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, Ross Perot, Al Gore, George W. Bush, John Kerry, Barack Obama, John McCain and Mitt Romney all have in common? On the biggest night each of their political careers, when they — live and on national tel…

Sunday, September 06, 2020

AS A DEMOCRAT accused by Republicans of trying to take away people’s hamburgers, I have to speak in my own defense. I am second to none in my fondness for the beef patty in a bun, a thin slice of onion, and mustard. I do not eat hamburger in a croissant; I am not that type of person. Ketchup…