When Donald Trump quits

But, like many successful businessmen, the real estate developer and GOP pack leader—who often espouses his disdain for “losers”—does not see every venture and contest through to the bitter end. Throughout his career, Trump has demonstrated wild enthusiasm at the start of big projects, and ruthlessly pursued a profit agenda that, in many cases, has led him to ditch the deal when the risks, whether financial or reputational, start to outweigh the prospective reward.

From a casino in French Lick, Indiana, to a dispute with condo owners in Panama and even in renewing “The Apprentice” reality show on NBC, Trump has time and again spotted the point of diminishing returns and quit.

This business record could shed light on Trump’s willingness to fight on and put more of his personal fortune on the line as the presidential contest shifts into the primary phase. In national polls, he’s already come down several points from his September peak, and Ben Carson has risen to within striking distance. Should Trump fall from first place or find himself in the middle of a protracted dogfight for the nomination, the complications and cost associated with a winning campaign organization would expand. And that could change his calculations…

But the Trump Organization’s general counsel, Alan Garten, has a more nuanced take. “If he’s not going to win the primary, then why would he continue to use up his own time and resources?” says Garten, adding, “If he’s not going to win the nomination, then he’ll go back to running his successful business. To me that’s a testament to what he’s built.”