Everyone has an opinion on politics. But only OKCupid, the Internet dating service boasting 3.5 million active users, has access to the reams and reams of organizable personal information that can demonstrate the kinds of complex statistical trends needed for weighty political predictions. It turns out that the questions OKCupid poses its users, who hope to find a like-minded mate, can also be used to make some interesting conclusions about the state of American politics.
In a lengthy, surprisingly rigorous study of user data, official OKCupid blogger Christian digs deep in an effort to divine the shifting political and ideological beliefs of Americans. Christian divides political ideology into two extremes, permissive versus restrictive, within two fields, social policy and economy policy. He then charts those beliefs by age, yielding one of his post's 14 graphs:
People in upper-right half of the graph will tend Democrat, he surmises, while those in the bottom-left will tend Republican. The statistics get a bit involved from there (the term "convex hull" makes an appearance). But Christian offers an interesting political conclusion: The Democratic base is too big and diverse to last to vote together, while the Republican base is smaller but tends to agree, making party unity more likely.
As you can see, the Democrat's base is much larger. And the range of political values it encompasses is vast. [...] well over half of the Democratic party's hull lies outside of its upper-right-hand ideological home, implying that you've got many groups of people who might tend Democratic, but who have disagreements with the party on particular issues and could defect, should the slant of the party or the country tilt the wrong way. On the other hand, the Republicans are concentrated in the lower-left-hand corner. This red cluster has multiple, apparently self-reinforcing, reasons to vote with their party, giving the Republicans both a more fervent power base and a little more ideological wiggle-room along either the social or economic axis.
But OKCupid is a dating service, not a political blog, so Christian's ultimate message is about, you guessed it, compatibility:
Republicans get along with each other quite a bit better than Democrats do, even on non-political issues. We've used match percentages like these to facilitate over 100,000 marriages in the last few years; their accuracy is pretty well-tested. If you're wondering, the site-wide average is 60. [...] that Democrats can't get together on some [non-political] multiple-choice Q & A speaks volumes about why they struggle with the infinite possibilities of government.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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