Political connections

Matchmaking: Online dating services that define clients by their political leanings are proving popular among singles, especially during an election year.

September 16, 2004|By Katharine Goodloe | Katharine Goodloe,Knight Ridder/Tribune

This year's electoral divide has some tech-savvy singles turning the search for Ms. Right into the search for Ms. Right Wing.

By adding a partisan tilt to the Internet's dating options, a spate of new Web sites allows singles to scout for soul mates of nearly every political stripe.

Take Kenny Opsal, 31, of Appleton, Minn. The self-described conservative Christian is looking for a like-minded woman who "can maybe even beat me at a game of hoops." Not a tall order, but his town is about 70 percent Democratic, and his job at the local prison doesn't help him meet women.

"One of the biggest things I've noticed is that people just like to go out and drink," he said. "So you don't really meet people who are that conservative, besides at church."

He turned to conservativematch.com. Like many online daters, Opsal filled out a personal profile that other members can browse. But his description moved beyond the personal - 5 feet 10 inches tall, open to travel - and into the political. He opposes abortion and supports cutting taxes. The comments in his "views" section open with "Reaganomics all the way."

Though Opsal hasn't had much luck yet, it's been only a few weeks. He says the site might bring him closer to someone "just to talk with, or maybe to date."

Brian Barcaro, a senior partner in Acolyte, the company that launched conservativematch.com in May, said such political connections are the site's goal. As the only single member of his company, Barcaro said he scours the site for business - to monitor its popularity - as well as for pleasure.

"We think it generally helps in meeting people and carrying out basic values," he said. It has also helped him find a few girlfriends, but "nothing marriage-related at this point," he said.

This year's presidential campaign has brought politics to the forefront, said Tony Sandoval, president of Terra9Singles, which in March launched democraticsingles.com and republicansingles.com. Sandoval believes interest in the sites - nearly 3,600 users have signed up - is buoyed by interest in the Iraq war and political movies such as Fahrenheit 9/11.

"Everyone is in the political mind-set right now," he said.

Teresa Van Deusen of Austin, Texas, is making her living off the election as the creator of a get-out-the-vote Web site, votervirgin.com. Although the site is nonpartisan and Van Deusen dedicates her work hours to bridging political gaps, she said her personal life should be "easier." So she joined the left-leaning loveinwar.com.

While she initially connected with people through other online dating sites, Van Deusen said, they too frequently turned out to be "staunch right-wingers."

"It can be a deal-breaker," she said. "I can't see sustaining a relationship with somebody where we have such primary differences."

But in separating singles along political lines, these sites might also be doing harm, said Lisa Ronis, who runs a Manhattan matchmaking service. Such selective searching, she said, goes against the adage that opposites attract.

"I never, never ask about politics," Ronis said. "What's that got to do with love, really?"

Meet me in the lobby

More than a dozen online sites are trying to ignite romantic sparks between party loyalists. A look at what's out there:



"Dedicated to helping conservatives like yourself meet their perfect soulmate."


"A community to meet the `right' person"



"A real community of people who share conservative values"


"An exciting place for single members of the convervative (sic) line of thought!"



"A community of Democrats, Greens, and Progressives who have decided they want to meet those with similar world views"



"The online relationship site for Democrats"


"An online site specifically for Democrat Singles"


"Smart. Sexy. Liberal."



"Uniting Democrats and Green Party members who are like in mind & liberal in love"



"An online community for Libertarian singles"





"A new site for people who take their politics seriously, but don't take themselves too seriously"



"Dating for activists: take action, get action!"

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