So if you accept my argument so far, there’s a natural follow-up: If this election just so happens to be extremely close, will this specific issue – the four electoral votes Democrats “gain” because of illegal immigrants – give Hillary the White House?
The answer is both a yes and a no. The answer is yes in the sense that the GOP nominee could edge out the Democrat in the popular vote but still lose in the Electoral College by four votes. In that case, allocating electoral votes by citizen-only population rather than total population would have changed the outcome.
But the answer is also no, and the best way to see this is to think in terms of over-determination. Over-determination is a pretty simple concept – if something is over-determined, there are a bunch of different causes for it and it’s impossible to parse out just one that made it happen. The final result of a really close election will almost certainly be over-determined. Maybe a campaign picked the wrong messaging strategy or maybe a party picked a candidate who was too ideological and not quite electable enough or maybe one of the campaigns chose to focus on the wrong swing states – there’s a laundry list of factors that could put a candidate over the top or cause him or her to miss the mark in a really tight race (although when the race is less close and fundamentals such as the economy favor one party, factors like these often do not make a big enough difference to change the final election result). I don’t see a good reason to focus primarily on illegal immigration when a large number of other factors could just as easily shift the final result.