Latinos Exercise Their Political Muscle on Election Day


By Diane Alverio

This opinion piece first appeared in the Hartford Courant
Latinos across the nation and in Connecticut woke up feeling a bit special last Wednesday morning, the day after Election Day.
Everywhere you turned, even on the Fox network, newscasters and talk show panelists analyzing Tuesday’s election results discussed how Latino voters had a clear effect on the outcome of the presidential race. Yet another milestone has clearly been reached.
Now, there is no doubt about the demographic shift in the country’s population and its impact is not theory anymore.  Latinos are poised to continue to exert influence in the politics. A top official from the National Council of La Raza,Clarissa Martinez De Castro, celebrated the election’s outcome by saying that it confirmed unequivocally that the road to the White House passes through Latino neighborhoods.
In Connecticut, Latinos in our urban centers provided the much needed assist to several Democratic candidates. In two of the tightest races in the state, Latinos delivered. U.S. Sen.-elect Chris Murphy will hopefully take this to heart as will the newly elected 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty. Conventional wisdom is that Esty sailed through on the coattails of “get out the vote” campaigns run by the Democratic Party and unions. Many Latinos privately wonder, however, how much of her $2.7 million campaign war chest went to woo their votes.
With their emerging political influence acknowledged and hopefully moving to a more prominent seat at the table, the question now becomes what do the state’s Latino political leaders do with this new negotiating chip?
In the General Assembly, Latino representation is still small with 11 Democratic members of the House and two in the Senate, where Republican Art Linares from the 33rd Senate District unexpectedly joined Democratic Sen. Andres Ayala from Bridgeport. But let’s hope they all  get feisty and  push for more influence within their parties.
Latinos in Connecticut are increasingly becoming unaffiliated voters. As the role of Latinos in Connecticut politics evolves, the state Republican Party could make inroads if it made a sincere effort. The Democrats should take notice and not take this voting block for granted. The same Latino voters who nationally supported President Barack Obama this time, previously supported George W. Bush. The Latino voter nationally and in Connecticut is getting more discerning — there is no die-hard loyalty to a political party — rather it’s to the candidate who delivers.
This article first appeared in the Hartford Courant. Diane Alverio is publisher of