For candidates in the South Carolina Republican primary on Feb 20:
Donald Trump: The businessman has a double-digit polling lead here. Should he win the primary, it could become very difficult for his rivals to slow his momentum as the race moves into the southern conservative states in the next few weeks. But if he fails to reach the top three, he will again face the same questions about his candidacy as he did going into New Hampshire.
Ted Cruz: The Texas senator sees South Carolina as a two-man race with Mr Trump, but a win here won't be easy despite the state's many evangelical and conservative voters as Mr Trump has momentum from his strong New Hampshire win.
John Kasich: The Ohio Governor's second place in New Hampshire was fuelled by support from independents. He is hoping to replicate such cross-party appeal here, but faces a far stiffer test.
Marco Rubio: The future of his campaign may ride on a resurrection in South Carolina. The first-term Florida senator finished a disappointing fifth in New Hampshire after a weak debate performance the previous week.
Jeb Bush: Former president George W. Bush will join his brother Jeb to campaign. But few people see Mr Jeb Bush doing much better than in Iowa and New Hampshire, and few see him as the eventual Republican nominee.
For the two candidates in the Nevada Democratic primary on Feb 20:
Hillary Clinton: She needs to prove that Nevada, a more racially diverse state, will be her firewall state against the strong challenge from Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont.
Bernie Sanders: After his solid showing in two overwhelmingly white states, Mr Sanders must do well in a state where about 20 per cent of the Democratic electorate is Hispanic and 13 per cent African-American.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2016, with the headline 'What's at stake'. Print Edition | Subscribe
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