The 2016 presidential election is a game of geography and demographics. American women back Hillary Clinton by up to 15 points, while Donald Trump leads among white working-class men. The anti-Trump Hispanic vote could hand Clinton Florida, but Trump has made huge inroads in Democratic strongholds like Michigan and Pennsylvania.

But there’s one demographic that routinely gets overlooked: the American diaspora. Although there are no official figures on exactly how many US citizens are living abroad, an approximate estimate is around 8 million, of which 5.7 million are eligible to vote. For context, that’s equivalent to a state the size of Colorado or Alabama. And it should come as little surprise that American citizens based in places like Europe and Canada with more progressive governments tend to overwhelmingly vote Democrat. But turnout among expatriates is typically low, around 12 percent compared to 40 percent across America.

This time round, Democrats Abroad is hoping to change that.

Unlike its GOP counterpart Republicans Overseas, which has no formal ties to the Republican Nation Committee, Democrats Abroad is a registered state party. That means the hundreds of thousands of expat Democrats are represented in the party primary, while the DA committee sends delegates to the Democratic National Convention. DA has registered members in nearly 200 countries, including Cuba, Myanmar and Zambia.

Julia Bryan, the International Secretary of DA, believes in enfranchising all American expats, Republicans included, and encouraging them to vote. She tells me with excitement how much progress they’ve been able to make this year in connecting with the diaspora community. Developments in Facebook algorithms have enabled DA to target Americans living abroad with far greater efficiency – so far they’ve managed to reach 2.5 million of them. There’s a new website,, and an online chat for all voters, helping to guide them through the complex and convoluted process of registering in their states. And volunteers are determined to get in touch with as many potential voters as possible – this year they’ve already contacted over 100,000 people personally by phone.

The technology has advanced, but that’s not all that makes this election different. Julia says she’s sensed a fundamental change in the mood of overseas voters this time round. By definition, Americans who choose to live abroad are more focussed on foreign policy than the majority of US voters. Trump’s nonsensical conglomeration of one-line maxims (build a wall, ban Muslims, scrap NATO, give Japan and South Korea nukes) has sparked terror in the hearts of those living outside America’s borders. (Julia calls his rhetoric “Putin-esque”, and worries about the rise of nationalism it is inspiring in the US.) While Trump may have energised the disenchanted working class in America’s mid-west, his racially-charged aggression and incompetence when it comes to foreign policy have fired up overseas voters who are determined to stop him, regardless of their political affiliation.

It’s making an impact. Americans who have lived abroad for decades without ever voting are suddenly registering. So far Democrats Abroad has seen a 70 percent increase in voter registration compared to 2012 through its own system alone, and Julia predicts the overall number of overseas voters will have doubled since the last presidential election.

Meanwhile expat Republicans are refusing to vote for Trump, either supporting the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson in protest or going against the habit of a lifetime and voting for Clinton. It’s hard to tell, but the effort from Republicans Overseas seems to have been distinctly muted, with very little ground game in many countries. RO’s vice-president, Dr Jan Halper-Hayes, said over the summer that Trump was “out of control” – and that was before three of the biggest Trump scandals (the release of the tape where he bragged about assaulting women, the accusations from at least thirteen individual women that Trump groped or harassed them, and Trump himself refusing to commit to accepting the result of the election). The effect of such anti-Trump sentiment among Americans abroad is already being felt. Traditionally the Republican nominee enjoys support of around 75 percent among Israel’s American Jews, but this year Trump’s lead in Israel has been slashed to just 5 points according to one survey, while other polls have it even lower.

But it’s not just that Americans overseas are overwhelmingly anxious about Trump – they’re also disproportionately enthusiastic about Clinton. Clinton herself has been directly involved with DA from early on, which is unusual, and has helped make this presidential race even more personal. There also seems to be more of an acknowledgement overseas that this is a historic election that could see the first ever female president of the United States – a point that has been widely forgotten domestically as the contest has turned into into a mud-slinging grudge match. American expats have more exposure to women leaders around the world – Angela Merkel in Germany, Theresa May in the UK, Christine Lagarde at the IMF – and one DA volunteer suggests they are increasingly inspired by the thought that Hillary Clinton could join them.

For a while, it looked like a Clinton victory was inevitable, but after the FBI bombshell announcement last week, the polls are now growing perilously tight. Democrats Abroad’s response has been to redouble its efforts. Far from being discouraged, Julia tells me it has “lit a fire” under volunteers, who are now working down to the wire to increase turnout in states where absentee voting deadlines haven’t yet passed.

Their message is stark: This is the world’s election, and the world is watching. Millions of people in other countries are following this race in horror wishing they could vote. They can’t, you can. So make it count.