The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Would a Clinton voter date a Trump supporter? Actually, the outlook is good.

The League dating app launches in D.C. with a party at the Hawthorne bar on U Street. (Lisa Bonos/The Washington Post)
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Casey Shea is a moderate who voted for Hillary Clinton. All of her ex-boyfriends, she says, have been Republicans. Before this year’s presidential election, those political differences didn’t matter much. It was as though her boyfriends merely had different tastes in alcohol, as though “they liked whiskey and I liked vodka.”

Now, however, she can’t stomach the idea of dating someone who voted for President-elect Donald Trump. “It would be like someone is trying to make me drink whiskey all the time,” Shea says.

“I think we’ll get past it,” she says. “But right now, everyone’s trying to feed you vodka or whiskey, rather than respecting your different tastes.” She wouldn’t rule out dating a Trump supporter in the future, but right now is way too soon. “I’m still really sad,” she says, noting that she spent all of Nov. 9 crying.

Shea made this analogy at the D.C. launch party for the League, a dating app that vets its applicants heavily before allowing them to swipe. Don’t know about the League? Here’s another analogy: If Tinder is your safety school, the place where body-shaming and sexual innuendo fly as fast as you can swipe, the League is your reach school, where résumés are fact-checked and egalitarian relationships are encouraged.

You might even say the League’s system is rigged against you: The more people who apply to join the League in your city, founder Amanda Bradford says, the harder it is to get in. The app has more than 10,000 D.C. area singles vying for admission, about 250 of whom packed the Hawthorne bar on U Street on Thursday night.

If Tinder is Trump’s America, the League strongly implies that it is Hillary’s America, which is still alive and in need of a stiff drink. As Chad Crowley, a 22-year-old Democrat from North Carolina, described the post-election singles scene: “You don’t have to ask someone: ‘Do you want to grab a drink?’ Because you know they need one.” Crowley’s strategy is sound: Sixty-two percent of unmarried women voted for Clinton, and 33 percent went for Trump. The split among unmarried men was closer: Forty-six percent voted for Clinton, 45 percent for Trump.

And yet, much like we’re seeing Trump and Clinton voters around the country trying to understand one another, even these selective singles expressed a willingness to date across the political divide … once the tears have dried. And as long as the dude in question has a job. Preferably, a good one.

For example, Ashley Krawiec’s dealbreakers are economic, not political. “I’m not trying to date someone who’s a bartender or someone who works at McDonald’s,” the 29-year-old said of her interest in the League. “I want something equal.”

When asked whether politics play a role in whom she’ll admit to her inner circle, she said no. “Most likely I wouldn’t ask, on a first date, who you voted for. I wouldn’t even ask my friends,” she said. “There are just so many more interesting things to talk about that are more telling about your personality than politics.” Krawiec voted for Clinton but wouldn’t “rule out” dating a Trump supporter.

At first blush, Krawiec thought the League sounded pretentious and wondered if she was “good enough” for the app. Well, the answer is yes: She has been vetted and admitted, but hasn’t met anybody yet.

One floor down from Krawiec, there’s a bulletin board where partygoers have filled in the blanks on cards describing what they’d swipe left (no) and right (yes) to. What gets a left swipe in this crowd? Bad conversations, sexism, guns, hate. And on the right? Great smiles, puppies, feminists, unity.

Are these singles are just being polite? Have they listened to Clinton’s concession speech so many times that they’ve forgotten the rancor of this campaign? Michelle Jacoby, who has been a professional matchmaker in the Washington area for the past nine years, does see less potential now for bipartisan relationships than in the past. “It is possible to fall in love with someone who has different views,” she says. “But I think people are more divided now than they have been — in the House, the Senate and on dates, too.”

Still, she’s setting up a date between a Clinton-voting Democrat and a Trump-supporting Republican. “I think they’ll like each other,” she says. “They share a lot of values. They’re both so thoughtful; they’re both so genuine.”


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