Hispanic College Students at a Campus
As they become a focal group, young Latino voters in battleground states revealed they are unmotivated to cast a ballot ahead of elections. Unsplash.com/Alexis Brown

NEW YORK CITY - Young Latino voters will be a key demographic in the November presidential elections, but many living in battleground states revealed they are unmotivated to cast a ballot for any of the candidates available.

NBC News recently conducted a series of interviews with nearly two dozen Latino students in states that are predicted to be decisive ahead of this year's elections, namely Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

From immigration to the Israel-Hamas War and rising living costs, the students commented on a variety of issues that are making them feel disillusioned about both President Joe Biden and the presumptive GOP nominee, Donald Trump, as they head to a rematch.

Paula Gomez, a biomedical student at Arizona State University, told NBC she intends to register to vote — but not yet.

"I wish voting for a third party was more common or had more effect," she said. "Right now, I don't want to vote for either Biden or Trump, but I know going for a third party doesn't go anywhere."

Historically, young voters tend to lean liberal. A recent Harvard Youth Poll showed Hispanics favor President Joe Biden (50%) over former President Donald Trump (27%) in a two-way race, with 22% saying they don't know.

Democrats drew on solid young Latino support in battleground states to secure their 2020 and 2022 victories, according to NBC News. In 2020, new voters of all backgrounds under age 30 favored Biden over Trump, 59% to 33%.

But despite historical traditions, a variety of current literature shows a tight race among the candidates, particularly among young people and minority groups. So much so that some experts are unsure of how to predict the behaviors of these groups.

"There's a general sense that both parties are the same, nothing's going to change; institutions have failed us; we don't trust any of the institutions no matter who's in power," said political scientist Stella Rouse, director of ASU's Hispanic Research Center.

As the election nears, it remains unclear whether candidates, specially President Biden, has eased young Latinos' worries on several issues, in particular the Israel-Hamas war and frustrations over the lack of affordable housing.

Emmanuel Ramirez is a freshman computer science freshman at Dalton State College, a Hispanic-serving institution located in a Georgia district represented by far-right Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in Congress.

Ramirez said that while he's leaning toward Biden, he hasn't ruled out voting for a third party candidate in part because he's unimpressed by the candidates' responses to the Israel-Hamas war.

Biden, who signed a bill Tuesday that includes $26 billion in assistance to Israel and humanitarian relief in Gaza, has urged Israel to agree to a cease-fire and to curb attacks on Gaza, while Trump in March said that Israel should "finish the problem," though he has mostly avoided talking about the war.

Affordability also emerged as an important issue for young Latinos across the three battleground states.

Nicholas Hernandez, an ASU political science and transborder studies major, said his family recently moved out of their four-bedroom west Phoenix home because the rent kept increasing. "A lot of my friends talk about that too. Their parents' rents have increased as well."

He works two jobs and pays his school-related costs and application fees for law school. He's a loyal Democrat, and although he said "Joe Biden is not the best," he is voting for him.

As per immigration, an issue that has become the focal point during this campaign season, the students feel a personal connection to it, given that most of them are children of immigrants, with previously or still undocumented family members. In these states, the students express fear for the anti-immigration rhetoric and policy being passed by politicians.

At Dalton State College, Karla Hernandez, a senior studying biology expressed concerns about Georgia passing new legislation, House Bill 1105, to crack down on undocumented immigrants following the murder of nursing student Laken Riley at the University of Georgia. According to NBC, most students interviewed cited the bill as a cause of deep concern.

"It was like there is no way this is actually happening, and it was, so that's really shocking," she said.

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