The guilty verdict in Donald Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial injects an explosive and unpredictable new variable into a presidential race locked in stasis, distinguished primarily by voter frustrations with their choice of two well-known and unpopular major candidates.

After running in largely noncompetitive and drama-free primary races, U.S. President Joe Biden and Trump now enter the general election campaign navigating a sudden and unprecedented scenario in U.S. political history: the leading candidate in the presidential race is a convicted felon.

Such a seismic development almost certainly would have changed the trajectory of the presidential race in the past, and it still might. Yet few experts are confident it will.