If Donald Trump loses the Republican primary in Wisconsin on Tuesday he runs the risk of losing his perch as frontrunner, and eventually the nomination.
He is trailing Ted Cruz, who is placed second in the Republican race, and a defeat could swing the contest away from him, changing its course inalterably.
The race on the Democratic side, experts said, could get longer if Wisconsin chooses Bernie Sanders over frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Clinton is leading the delegate count 1,243 to Sanders’s 980 — with the nomination requiring 2,382 — though she trails him 45.3% to 47.9% in the average of polls in the state.
It’s the Republican race, however, which is attracting more attention because of Trump, and the implications: Can he be stopped? Will the race change here on?
Trump is way ahead in the count of delegates needed to secure the nomination with 737 to Cruz’s 475 and Kasich’s 130, but he is still way short of the threshold of 1,237 to clinch it.
A defeat in Wisconsin, which has 42 delegates, could make it extremely difficult for him to reach the threshold, leaving him short for the nomination.
Crag Gilbert, the Washington correspondent of a Wisconsin daily, said a defeat in the state will not only slow down his progress but will also embolden the stop-Trump movement.
Almost the entire Republican party leadership is deeply troubled by the prospect of Trump winning the nomination, and is determined to stop him. Wisconsin is its new battlefront.
And Cruz is its candidate. He is ahead of Trump 39.2% to 34.5% in the RealClearPolitics average of polls, and is widely expected to win.
Talk of a contested convention, therefore, has grown more intense in recent days, with the possibility dimming of any one candidate reaching the threshold mark.
Both Republican and Democrats will have their respective conventions in July, where, typically, the presidential nominee is chosen or crowned depending on the circumstances.