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Texplainer: What Are the Odds of a Third-Party Win for The Donald in Texas?

Supporters of business tycoon Donald Trump have filed paperwork to establish the Make America Great Again Party so that "The Donald" might still be able to run for president here. Could he actually win Texas?

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Welcome to The Texas Tribune's "Texplainer" series, where we answer questions from readers like you. 

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Hey, Texplainer: Would Donald Trump have any chance of winning the presidential vote in Texas if he were to run as a third-party candidate?

Late last week, supporters of business tycoon and Apprentice star Donald Trump filed paperwork in Texas to establish the Make America Great Again Party so that "The Donald" still might be able to run for president here in the Lone Star state.

On Fox and Friends on Monday, Trump said he had nothing to do with the party filing in Texas, but is not ruling out a run for the White House. Trump flirted with a run for the Republican nomination himself earlier this year, but didn't throw in. Calling the current state of politics in the Republican run up to the Iowa caucuses "very strange," Trump said he'd "love to do it" if Republican voters don't choose a candidate who can beat President Obama.

So the question is: Could Trump actually win Texas if he ran as a third-party candidate? If history is a guide, odds are not in his favor.

The interactive graph below compares the percentage of Texans who vote for third-party, independent and write-in candidates as opposed to Democratic and Republican candidates in presidential races. By clicking on the legend, you can remove a party or "other candidates" from view. For example, if you click to remove both Democratic and Republican candidates, it is easy to see which years "other candidates" took a heftier portion of the vote. Click on the legend again to add the categories back to the graph. 

The stand-out year for "other candidates" was 1992. That's because Ross Perot, who ran as an independent, received 1.3 million Texas votes. It was also the year with the greatest number of write-in candidates: seven in all.

The graph also charts the state's transition from blue to red. In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson, a Texas Democrat, received more than 63 percent of the vote. By 1972, Richard Nixon was the favorite in Texas, earning 66 percent of the vote. From that point forward, the Republican candidates take the winning spot, though not always by such large margins.

Bottom line: While a third-party presidential run would keep Trump and his hair in the spotlight, odds are against a happy ending for the reality TV star in Texas.

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