This Thanksgiving, are you looking for someone to bring home to the family who likes taking long walks on the beach, playing frisbee in the park and…voting on the same side of the ticket as you?
With the American electorate increasingly divided between Republicans and Democrats, three men have decided to play yenta with politics. JD Beebe, Alex Fondrier and Francois Briard are the team behind Political Matchmakers, a company that runs two separate online dating sites: Red State Date and Blue State Date.
The sites match users for compatibility based on their political leanings, ”because no one should have to date a liberal,” the host says at the end of a tongue-in-cheek video promoting RedStateDate.com.
The slogan is reversed in the BlueStateDate.com video.
In the dating world, “Status quo is to avoid talking politics at all costs,” Fondrier said. But for most partners, politics plays a more important role than looks or personality, according to a study out of the University of Nebraska.
Beebe compared Red State and Blue State Date to sites like Geek 2 Geek, a site that brags it’s “the best place on the net to meet geeks.”
But for some singles, politics are their main passion. “People crowding the rallies, people in public relations, groups of people who work in government, in Washington, D.C., and the state capitals,” Foundrier said.
“There’s obviously tons of people out there like this,” Beebe said. “Let’s make something for them.”
When users first sign up at one of the sites, they’re asked for standard information like gender, looks and marital status.
But what sets these sites apart is what comes next: Users rank where they stand on issues like the Patriot Act, abortion and fiscal policy. Then they’re given a score that tells them how liberal or conservative they are and serves as a basis to help find their matches.
There’s no “Conservatives Keep Out” sign on the Blue State Date site, but Beebe and Fondrier say they hope eventually to offer the option of matching users to people on the other end of the political spectrum. There are some self-identified conservatives who’ve chosen to be on the blue side, and vice versa. The founders aren’t about to kick them off.
“We’re learning along with the users how they want to best use it,” Fondrier said.
The sites have seen thousands of users sign up since their launch a couple of weeks before the election.
Does their success mean there’s no hope that Dems and the GOP can ever get along?
“When it comes down to the everyday American, I think they’re willing to befriend people from the other side of the aisle, no problem,” Fondrier said. “But I think in a long term relationship, marriage, raising children, that’s a little bit different.”
“That decision has already been made long before we came onto the scene.”