CLEVELAND — Republicans don’t have it easy. They have to defend one of the most unlikable candidates in modern American history, a candidate who has called Mexicans criminals and women "fat pigs." What effect does affiliating oneself with a man who draws so much ire? It makes you less attractive to women.
That’s if you believe data from popular dating website PlentyOfFish that shows only one in three women on their site are willing to date a Trump supporter, and that proclaiming yourself a Trump voter narrows one’s dating pool by 40 percent. After hopping on the phone with research lead at PlentyOfFish Steve Oldridge, it became clear that dating data offers a unique perspective on one of the most divisive elections of all time.
Although male Trump supporters are "half as likely not to message someone of their own race" than non-Trump supporters, they are also "blocked by 40 percent more than non-Trump supporters," Oldridge explained.
While some female Trump supporters certainly reject male Hillary Clinton supporters based on their political leanings, "male Trump supporters are more willing to date women with different views." That’s mostly because "males are much more willing to date across political lines than females." The reasoning is up for debate, but Oldridge hinted it may be simple numbers. Since "women are less prevalent on online dating websites, they have the opportunity to narrow the field."
And this female aversion to male Trump supporters is reflected in social media campaigns like "Vote Trump, Get Dumped," which urges women to withhold sex from men who plan to vote for the Republican nominee.
To put this data to the test, we went to one of the most partisan places in America this week — the Republican National Convention in Cleveland — with the goal of matchmaking a male Trump supporter with a female Clinton supporter to see if the situation is as dire as it seems. We set up Bridget, a 31-year-old Democrat attending the convention, with Ryan, a 27-year-old Republican from Cleveland, to see if they could find common ground.
The date went surprisingly well. Although Bridget had more reservations about dating a Trump supporter than Ryan did about dating a Hillary supporter, both didn’t expect the date to go as well as it did. They talked gun control, immigration, the tax code, and #BlackLivesMatter — you know, romantic stuff. Sure, munching on pizza and wine while they did it certainly helped, but overall, they agreed on more than not.
"It’s interesting that we are politically and ideologically polar opposites but there are things we agree on," Bridget said.
It’s not just Ryan and Bridget who are bad at predicting incompatibility across political ideologies. Studies have shown Americans think they are more ideologically opposed than they actually are.
One study asked 2,212 US participants questions about moral beliefs like fairness and cheating, and it has gone so far as to suggest that "liberals and conservatives, while differing systematically in their moral world views, are actually more similar in their moral judgments than anyone thinks."
In fact, both conservatives and liberals exaggerated their own moral judgments and those of the opposing party. A 2012 study found that when you frame questions in terms of "fairness and care for humanity" for subjects, the differences between Republicans and Democrats are much less stark.
And although both members of each party report "looking for a partner who is like themselves" on dating sites, data indicates the younger you are, the more likely you are to be married to someone of another political ideology. And given that a growing margin of millennials don’t identify with either party, maybe political ideology will become increasingly less important in picking a mate.
Still, many political experts are predicting this election to have one of the largest gender gaps in election history, which shows a clear division between the way women and men view who can make the country better. Donald Trump has high unfavorables, but so does his contender Hillary Clinton, especially with white men. For those wishing to enter straight relationships, the election will certainly be a point of contention for heterosexual couples. Thankfully, for those who have given up on trying to find love during an election year, MapleMatch, an app that matches Americans with Canadians who can help them escape the election, could be the game-changer they are looking for.