The biggest issue with the Standard’s article is that it implies it is shallow, even irresponsible, to use party affiliation as a filter for possible romantic partners. “The next time you see a bumper sticker that says, ‘He’s not my President,’ you may want to ask the person if they met their spouse online,” Pearson-Merkowitz warns. I wouldn’t reject someone out of hand for being a Republican, but I have no interest in making polite conversation over flat beers with a guy who doesn’t believe gay marriage should be legal, or who thinks abortion is tantamount to murder. If I’m contributing to the polarization of American politics by declining to raise kids with such a person, too bad. As long as party registration is a nearly perfect proxy for fundamental social views—and as long as OKCupid doesn’t have individual boxes for “universal health care,” “voting rights,” “gun control,” and the like—some political discrimination strikes me, not as the cause of the problem, but as a very reasonable response to it.
A reader chimes in:
Pearson-Merkowitz misses a critical point. Shared values are an important element in a happy marriage. To the extent that political views are a proxy for those values – and they surely are for me and my husband – then there is far more to be gained (and far less to be lost) from living with someone who shares your political views than from living with someone who can provide in-depth insight into an opposing view. If you think it’s important to understand other points of view, you can avail yourself of existing sources (such as the Dish). No need to marry one!
Philip Bump points out that ideological sorting isn’t strictly an online phenomenon:
Geography is almost certainly a stronger indicator of the likelihood two people will get together than having matching political views on OKCupid: A resident of Boston may find the perfect match possible on a website, but if that match [lives] in Honolulu, he’s much more likely to end up with someone from Cambridge. Geographical regions already tend to have a lot of political homogeneity. Take New York City. An April 2012 survey found that 82 percent of the city was registered Democratic…. So there’s a four-to-one chance that the person you meet randomly on the street will share your registration if you’re a Democrat. If you try to find someone who disagrees with you, it will be difficult.