Watching the presidential debate Wednesday felt a little like walking into a raucous party knowing no one and hoping to create meaningful connections. The music is so loud you can’t hear what anyone is saying. The drinks are copious, so who knows if anyone is being his or her true self.
You go home alone. Exhausted. Frustrated.
What if you could find your presidential match the way you find a date these days? Swipe left or right for repealing Obamacare. Swipe left or right for increasing the minimum wage.
That’s the brainchild of 25-year-old Hunter Scarborough who wanted to cut through all the punditry, stump speeches and character attacks to match voters with their ideal presidential candidate based on shared interests.
Meet Voter. The Tinder for presidential politics.
It’s modeled after the famous online dating app, which took much of the front-end effort out of finding a mate. In today’s short-attention span world, Tindr distilled connection to gut impulse from a few photos.
Voter taps into a similar societal lament – we’re all too busy to find dates and we’re too busy to make informed decisions about presidential candidates. Especially when there are so many fish in the sea.
“What Tinder did is they simplified the dating model to the make or break question of physical attraction, we’re simplifying political matches down to (make or break questions),” said Hunter Scarborough, the 25-year-old founder of the app.
While there are plenty of similarities to be made about dating and presidential politics (promises made that are rarely kept, mixed messages, etc.) the aim of the new app is actually quite the opposite of Tinder.
Scarborough doesn’t want voters to make a rash decision about who to support. He’s wants the connection between voter and candidate to be based on something real. He’s basically the cupid of presidential politics.
He culls data from candidates’ public statements, and where available, voting records to build the algorithms. They’re weighted based on how often a candidate talks about an issue, and how consistently. (For example, Rick Santorum is a closer match than Donald Trump if someone is against keeping abortion legal. Both men are anti-abortion, but Trump hasn’t always been.)
To get a quick sense about which candidate might be right for you, there are eight pretty basic questions to answer. Swipe right for yes. Swipe left for no.
But if you want an even deeper connection, there’s a second level of questions with even more policy positions. A third level is in development.
“It’s a monumental ask of someone to say, we’ve got 16 Republican candidates and five Democrats and you’ve got to decide who you like,” Scarborough told the Loop.
Their official pitch is: “Voter. Instead of looking for who to support, find out who supports you.” And really, isn’t that the foundation of any lasting relationship?