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Ground Game

After Wisconsin, three things to watch in April

Voters took to the polls in Wisconsin on Tuesday.
Voters took to the polls in Wisconsin on Tuesday. Darren Hauck/Getty Images

The two party front-runners, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, suffered defeats in Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary, but they could stand to recover in the next round of contests in April.

There are six more presidential primaries on the calendar this month: New York on April 19, and Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Delaware on April 26. Wyoming Democrats will also hold a caucus Saturday.

For Trump to win the GOP nomination outright, and avoid a contested convention, he must score significant wins in most of these states to regain momentum after a rough few weeks. But geography should play to his advantage: The Northeastern states are home to several expensive media markets. And unlike John Kasich or Ted Cruz, Trump has his own money to spend on this next round of contests if necessary.

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Compared to Trump, Clinton has an easier path to the nomination: She simply needs to not concede too much ground in these upcoming contests, where polls show her ahead in delegate-rich New York and Pennsylvania.

What’s more for her, none of these states have the open primaries that have benefited Bernie Sanders by allowing more independent voters into the party’s fold.

Here are three more things to watch in the remaining April primaries:

1. Can Trump’s campaign keep it together?

The last few weeks didn’t do many favors for Trump. March ended with his campaign manager getting charged with simple battery for grabbing a reporter. April didn’t kick off much better for Trump either, with his loss in the Wisconsin primary.

But it’s easy to see how Trump’s campaign could come back in the middle of April, when the primary heads to New York. Polls show Trump, the hometown GOP candidate, leading the Republican field by a massive margin in that state.

How Trump handles the two weeks before then — when there will be no GOP nominating contests — will be pivotal to proving his campaign’s mettle. His goal may be to capture enough delegates to win the nomination outright and avoid a contested convention this summer, but his mission should be to show the Republican party he can run a professional operation for the duration.

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2. Will Kasich stay in the race?

He’s only won one out of dozens of state primaries — as Trump pointed out this weekend. But Kasich’s continued presence in the GOP primary still has an effect on the race: He prevents Cruz from consolidating all of the anti-Trump vote, and he prevents Trump from consolidating more moderate voters who dislike Cruz’s conservative pitch.

It’s mathematically impossible for Kasich to win enough delegates in the remaining primaries to get the nomination. Senator Marco Rubio had amassed more delegates than the Ohio governor, and the Floridian dropped out of the race last month.

But Kasich’s campaign might see some advantage to staying in the contest. His campaign is banking on a contested convention filled with delegates seeking an electable candidate for November.

3. Can Clinton dominate in New York?

For Democrats, the next couple weeks are all about the Empire State primary. If Sanders cannot pull off a big New York win, his already thin path to the nomination virtually disappears — even if he has the funds to stay in the race.

Polls show Sanders trailing Clinton by approximately 10 points. But the state’s Democratic primary electorate could swing his way: The majority of the party voters are white, educated, and liberal — his base of support in previous primaries. The key for Clinton is increasing turnout in New York City, particularly among minority populations, and upstate among more moderate Democrats.

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If Sanders defeated Clinton in her home state, she would face a number of questions about her campaign organization, perhaps even shifting momentum toward him. It’s arguable that New York is the last contest that could rock the Democratic race until the California primary in June.


James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @james-pindell or subscribe to his daily e-mail update on the 2016 campaign at www.bostonglobe-.com/groundgame.