"I have my doubts about the existence of Chavismo without Chavez," leading opposition figure Henrique Capriles told a Spanish newspaper in January. "To me, any movement without its leading figure is deeply vulnerable."
Capriles is expected to be the opposition candidate to challenge Maduro for the presidency.
"It will depend on opposition voters understanding that Chavismo without Chavez is beatable and deeply vulnerable if they mobilize," he said.
If Chavismo is victorious in its first election without Chavez, the new leader will have to face decisions that may cause dissatisfaction among the movement, said Corrales, the Amherst professor.
If Maduro wins, he will have to deal with a tough economic crisis and will be forced to consider future devaluations and spending cuts, topics which have provoked tensions within Chavismo in the past.
The next president also will have to rethink the way that the country's oil wealth is spent and the subsidies it provides, both foundations of Chavismo.
Supporters of Chavez are more optimistic about the lasting legacy of Chavez.
"Chavismo, at one point, was focused on the figure of Chavez as the all-emcompassing one, but it grew and expanded to become this mass movement that has crossed the borders out of Venezuela into the world beyond and has affected countries around the world," Eva Golinger, a Venezuelan-American attorney, author and adviser to Chavez told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
Chavismo and the social revolution that Chavez began will continue, she predicted.
"Chavez (was) a very powerful personality, very charismatic person, larger than life, and most media attention went to him," Golinger said. "But in the end, what really has been going on in Venezuela is a whole transformation of the country, that's why it's called a revolution, changing every sector of society."