Millennials have adopted a ‘don’t know’ or ‘don’t care’ attitude when it comes to politics and the Republican party, according to Riley Shaw, a recent political science graduate and intern with the production team at the Republican National Convention.
“I think a lot of my friends – they don’t really know,” Shaw said. ‘But once I actually talk to them and kind of feel them out a little bit, they’re pretty conservative people, and that’s what the GOP has to grab ahold of and hold onto.”
Shaw said the party would do good to address those millennial voters who reside in the middle ground, because he feels they’re a untapped resource.
“I think that there are a lot of people that are our age that think – well maybe they don’t have conservative ideals – but they’re kind of just somewhere in the middle you know,” Shaw said. “They just need something to grab onto.”
Shaw hopes the convention will continue to attempt to address voters of the millennial age through the speakers of the convention.
“I thinking they’re making an honest effort at trying to reach out, I don’t know if it will go anywhere,” Shaw said. “I hope it does.”
One of the speeches he noted was by Alexandra Smith, the president of the college republican national committee, addressed the floor. He said her speech resonated with him.
“These aren’t just conservative values, they’re millennial values,” Alexandra Smith, said of a republican stance on the issues during her speech.
He said many young adults have drifted away from the GOP.
“Historically, millennials have kind of shifted to the democratic side of things,” Shaw said.
Shaw said one of the indicators of this was the following Bernie Sanders created, especially in regards to his stance to provide college tuition.
“I guess, the big thing now is college debt,” Shaw said. “That’s why I think Bernie Sanders was so successful in wrangling millennials.”
Shaw didn’t agree with Sanders on the issues but suggested that the Republican party might want to work with that issue to try and attract voters from that demographic.
“I think maybe offering a practical solution in terms of managing college debt and finding jobs for young people who are coming right out of college and adopt a platform around that, that could definitely help,” he said.
Shaw is one of the few the production team asked to intern with them. He said they surveyed college campuses, like Cleveland State and John Carroll Universities, to recommend and collect resumés from students who could work the convention for an internship. Shaw said they hired five or six local college students.
“I just thought it was really cool of them to actually reach out to the local community and try to bring a little Cleveland into the convention in terms of employment.”
Shaw said he gets to work with the band playing onsite.
“Obviously, yesterday was really busy late night, but it was a really cool experience,” Shaw said. “I’m really excited for the next three days.”