Illegal immigrants push 2016 presidential race Democrats’ way, analyst says
By Evan Lips | October 5, 2015, 19:45 EDT
One person, one potential vote — does that equal an unfair advantage for Democrats?
The math may be complicated, but the formula is simple: as more and more immigrants illegally enter the U.S. and settle in various states, they help drive population increases that dictate which states gain Electoral College votes and which lose them.
The net result of adding 11 million illegal immigrants into the Electoral College equation? An unfair advantage for Democratic presidential candidates, according to the Politico website, which cited an analysis by American University’s Leonard Steinhorn.
The aid to Democrats won’t come from votes by illegal immigrants but rather from how their presence skews the makeup of the Electoral College, which actually decides presidential elections.
The importance of the Electoral College’s composition was most blatantly apparent in 2000, when Republican George W. Bush bested Democrat Al Gore with 271 electoral votes compared to Gore’s 266. Although he lost the election, Gore edged Bush at the ballot box by about 540,000 votes. In Florida, where the Bush and Gore camps battled for weeks over the butterfly ballots voters used in some districts, the winner of the popular vote collected all 25 of the Sunshine State’s electoral votes — which is why winning the presidency hinged on that state’s results.
As Bush was being certified as the winner, Democrats like then-First Lady Hillary Clinton complained about the system and advocated for abolishing the Electoral College. While on tour in upstate New York shortly after winning her bid for the U.S. Senate from New York, Clinton in November 2000 said democracy “should respect the will of the people.”
“That means it’s time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president,” she said, CBS News reported on its website.
Yet should she win the Democratic nomination, it is likely that the Electoral College will provide Clinton with an advantage over her Republican adversary.
The Census Bureau doesn’t discriminate between Americans and non-citizens in its decennial population counts. Those counts determine each state’s allotment of congressional districts. In turn, the number of districts in a state decides how many electoral votes it gets for the next 10 years.
Steinhorn, a former Democratic speechwriter who teaches communications at the school, told Politico that states with high populations of illegal immigrants would have lost 2016 electoral votes if the Census Bureau’s formula for determining the numbers only counted U.S. citizens.
Steinhorn determined that California, a state that hasn’t gone Republican in a presidential election since 1988, would have lost five electoral votes in a citizen-only tally. Texas, which recently has tilted just as reliably Republican as California has Democratic, would lose two votes. Florida, New York and Washington, all in the 2012 Democratic fold, would give up one vote each. At the same time, a bevy of mostly Midwest states that often back Republicans for president would gain those votes.
There is a significant challenge to the status quo brewing, however. In April 2014, Texans Sue Evenwel and Edward Pfenninger sued the Lone Star state over the way its congressional districts are drawn. Their case has gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In Evenwel v. Abott, the high court will consider whether it is lawful for states to make redistricting decisions based on the population of each district or if the decisions must reflect the number of eligible voters they contain.
The case will be heard later this year.