KULKARNI: Judith Lockman is in her early 60s, a big Bernie Sanders supporter, and single.
LOCKMAN: I would like to meet someone who has my vision of America. Who believes it’s the American dream to rise up to the middle class, to have a strong middle class. And I would want to be with someone who shares those humanitarian viewpoints. That I have.
KULKARNI: So when her cousin told her about a dating website for Sanders fans — she put up a profile. Within days, she got a message from Mark in Florida.
LOCKMAN: I am a fun loving caring man looking for friendship and more. I believe this is a great opportunity for all the Bernie supporters to come together as one in order to learn more about each other.
KULKARNI: Judith knows her way around dating sites– she already has accounts on Match.com and J-date, too.
LOCKMAN: But really if I were to pick one essential thing about who I am it would be being a Bernie Sanders supporter.
KULKARNI: Mark Brooks an online dating consultant. He says this is exactly what niche dating sites do well. They create a romantic community around identity.
BROOKS: Where people have made a call that’s what they want they know what they want and they don’t really want to meet anyone who’s outside the particular thing that they’re looking for.
KULKARNI: But Brooks says the idea is one thing and the business is another.
A restaurant in some ways it doesn’t take much to get rolling and it’s a fun thing to do. Unfortunately there’s more to the dating business than that.
BROOKS: That’s been the case for Dave Rubin. He had been a user on the site veggiedate.com and had success finding love with other conscious eaters. So he bought the site. For him success is about impact.
If it’s bringing people together if it’s helping them make meaningful connections.
KULKARNI: VeggieDate may help vegetarians find love over veggie patties, but it isn’t making much money. For one, the company can’t support a full time staff — the team is 4 people total all contracted. And second, veggiedate is just a side income for Rubin– if Rubin pays himself the company doesn’t make a profit.
It’s really not a big money maker at all.
The site’s been alive for several years and membership is steady at 10,000 users. But according to Brooks, that isn’t very many for a niche site. In fact if veggiedate wanted the big wigs of online dating — like match.com — to notice it, it would need millions of users.
It’s really just a labor of love.
KULKARNI: Jeremiah Pegues gets it. He’s one of the founding members of berniesingles.com. I met him at a large hotel downtown.
PEGUES: Oh we’re sitting in Trump Tower…it’s kind of like you’re sticking it to the man a little bit.
KULKARNI: Yeah, he’s a Sanders supporter. But he wants to help matchmaking succeed.
PEGUES: I feel like it’s really awkward to find out down the line that a girl that you’re really feeling is a die hard Trump supporter you know that’s about as awkward as it gets.
KULKARNI: Awkward enough that in the first week they had 10,000 sign ups alone. Now Pegues and a team of 15 volunteers, run the site for no pay, spending most of their time, weeding out the Trump trolls.
PEGUES: They’ll be like, “Make America really great again”, and you’ll be like haha and laugh and then they’ll be like really racist.
KULKARNI: But trolling aside, Pegees has been able to reap the benefits of a site devoted to sanders fans looking for love.
PEGEES: I get these requests “Oh, you’re from Brooklyn. I’m from Brooklyn too want to get some drinks all right great.”
KULKARNI: Pegues says if Bernie makes it, he’s not sure what will happen to the site. He says it may lose steam, but he hopes the site lives on and inspires people to voice their political opinions to their prospective lovers. In the meantime, Pegees has a hot date on Saturday night and he’s goin’ talk Bernie. Isabella Kulkarni, Columbia Radio News.