American expats in Mexico could play key role in close U.S. election

American expats in Mexico. (PHOTO:

VALLE DE GUADALUPE, Baja Calif.— A few years ago, Ben and Bonnie Benoit considered returning to the United States, believing it was time to go home. Now as they follow the U.S. presidential election from their ranch home in Mexico’s wine country, they’re glad they didn’t.

What they see as divisive politics in the U.S. — the presidential campaign between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump — confirms their decision to stay in Mexico. Sometimes as they watch and read the news, the Benoits are filled with dismay, they told a Dallas Morning News reporter.

“Someone like Trump comes along and I can’t believe the country I thought was in existence … is not,” said Ben, 76, who retired in Baja California, where he and his wife make wine. “I think we’re all in shock. I think we’re also terribly embarrassed.”

American expats in Mexico could be crucial in U.S. presidential election. (PHOTO:
American expats in Mexico could be crucial in U.S. presidential election. (PHOTO:

The U.S. presidential contest is generating buzz across the globe, where expatriates are in a frenzy about politics back home. Only Canada has more Americans than Mexico, but Trump’s Mexico bashing has made being American a bit more awkward these days.

“A lot of our Mexican friends are frightened of him,” Bonnie said.

In a close race, the vote abroad is that much more critical. Democrats and Republicans in Mexico say they’re seeing a huge spike in interest as they organize the “get out the vote” effort. Many are hosting large gatherings, including debate-watching parties.

At least a million Americans live throughout Mexico, according to the U.S. State Department, many concentrated in scenic colonial and coastal towns, from San Miguel de Allende to Valle de Guadalupe, which is just far enough from the hectic pace of life in the U.S. but close enough to feel connected to friends and family and stay involved in politics.

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