A resurgent Joe Biden (L) seized the momentum in the race to become the Democratic challenger to President Donald Trump with a string of Super Tuesday victories on Tuesday, including key prize Texas, against rival Bernie Sanders (R), a leftist who had been the clear leader and was looking for a knock-out blow on the most consequential voting day on the primary calendar. Now they both await the tedious vote counting in California, biggest prize of all. Photos : AFP / Mark Felix and Mark Ralston

Bernie Sanders was leading comfortably in California one day after the Democratic Super Tuesday primaries, as US media cautiously refrained from declaring him winner in the state with the largest delegate count.

With approximately 80 percent of precincts reporting, the Vermont senator was ahead with 33 percent of votes against 24 percent for former vice president Joe Biden, who represents the more moderate wing of the party.

A victory would allow Sanders, a self-declared democratic socialist, to engage in a drawn-out campaign with Biden, who reaped an electoral bonanza, winning in a majority of the 14 states that voted Tuesday. The last state called for Biden was Maine.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who invested a record $500 million from his personal fortune in advertising before dropping out of the race Wednesday and endorsing Biden, was teetering on the edge of the 15 percent threshold necessary to obtain California delegates.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren – who came in a disastrous third in her own state and was reportedly considering whether to drop out and, if so, whether to endorse Sanders or Biden – fell well below the California delegates cutoff.

Despite Sanders’s lead in California, which is the country’s most populous state and a bastion of the American left, most media did not call the race.

Californians could vote by mail until Tuesday, and their incoming ballots could narrow the gap, particularly if they decided to vote after Biden began gaining speed with a landslide win in South Carolina on Saturday and the endorsements of three former rivals, Pete Buttigieg Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke.

In the 2016 California Democratic primary, it took nearly a month to count all ballots in the race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, with the gap in favor of the former narrowing significantly.