Tinder for Politicos? New Political Dating App Aims at Young Voters

A few weeks ago, I had a discussion with a friend about whether she would venture to go on a second date. She had a nice time and the pair connected well on the first date. The only problem: his views on foreign policy, which were problematic, to put it gently.

We launched into an earnest consideration of the cuteness of the potential love interest vs. the abhorrence of his views. A magic tipping point, on both sides (insanely cute or insanely out-there, politically), can render the other factor tolerable or intolerable.

Yes, these are the types of weighty considerations that must be evaluated by the young and single who possess dearly held political beliefs. Even within smaller groups and ideologies, politics can be a hurdle to true love. For instance, among 30 random, self-described Jewish progressives, there are probably 29 views on Israel that are dealbreakers to others in the group.

Rock the Vote is counting on this set with its new dating app for the young and politically inclined:

Last week, the group Rock the Vote—which is trying desperately to get more 18-to-29-year-olds engaged in politics—launched an Android app that allows users to find potential partners based on political ideology.

Rock the Vote is trying to brand its new app as Tinder for politics. Tinder is a popular dating app that allows users to “swipe” through photos and short descriptions of other users looking to date, or just casually hook up. Swipe right for yes, left for no.

The new app, called candiDate, matches users by how well their political views align.

Upon learning of this new innovation, I immediately took to Gchat to quiz friends who regularly online-date about whether this would work. My brother, who’s single (ladies!) and just started living in a new city, says yes. For him, the ability to weed out potential mates’ views makes sense, particularly since he already checks out their positions on big social issues when he’s browsing OkCupid. Indeed, many of my friends who date online are particularly concerned about social issues like gay marriage, birth control, or abortion, often for self-evidently pragmatic reasons.

But they also noted that this predisposition on their part could make a politics-only dating app a bit redundant. “There are too many apps to keep track of and all the same people are registered for all of them,” one friend kvetched. Furthermore, the smaller political issues bookmarked by Rock the Vote’s candiDate app, like the Keystone Pipeline, or even income redistribution, are more complex draws for a voter-registration ploy than your basic social issues. The problem is that if you already care deeply about hot topics like these (which you should!), you’re also probably already registered to vote. So while this app might enable you to find a hot date to the next anti-fracking rally, it’s not necessarily going to boost enrollment numbers for young voters.

Then there’s the fact that a major aim of political engagement is to thoroughly discuss issues, and the idea of a “swiping” app doesn’t allow for that. “The tinder-like ethic of swiping leaves little room for consideration or thought,” J.E. Reich, who has written about being queer on Jewish dating sites, says. “Tinder hinges on the idea of the automatic and thoughtless; the political process should be the opposite of that.” Furthermore, there are lots of people who don’t think of themselves as political, or reject political labels or even the entire American political system, who could be eminently dateable by politicos. So they’re not necessarily going to flock to candiDate. That being said, candiDate has its charms for the political set.

“It’s not like every site will have everyone you want on it,” says progressive comedian and writer Katie Halper. “I’d certainly join this before J-date.”