ATLANTA - If watching CNN’s "Crossfire" over candlelight sounds perfect for a first date or the Republican National Convention is your idea of a romantic getaway, you may want to check out a handful of fledgling political online dating sites.
Mixing online passion with politics first started in February with Loveinwar.com as an offbeat — even wacky — spin on dating. And a few weeks ago, RepublicanSingles.com and DemocratSingles.com hit the Internet scene.
The sites bring dating and politics together like never before. Two of every five singles in the United States browsed Internet dating sites at least once in 2003, according to Jupiter Research.
Traditionally, the ballooning online dating industry largely steered away from politics. Instead, niche Web sites targeted virtually everything else that defines us: Dog lovers, vegans, overweight singles, senior singles, Christian singles — the list goes on. But if people can bond over their pets, why not over political discourse?
Nate Elliott, an analyst with Jupiter Research who specializes in the online market, said political online dating sites have all of the signs of winning tickets — a new niche and savvy timing.
And some singles, hoping to find the perfect running mate, also see the potential.
"Right from the get-go, you have people who share a lot of your beliefs and values," said 26-year-old Kelli Cook of Duluth, Ga., intrigued by the RepublicanSingles.com site.
Cook, a member of the Gwinnett County Young Republicans, also is a staunch supporter of the Iraq war. And she said a Web site catering to Republicans would screen out those who are against the war.
"I think it would be very, very hard for me to be with someone who opposes the war," she said.
"It makes sense to have niche sites where people feel at home," Elliott said.
Loveinwar doesn’t target party stalwarts but instead plays off a more irreverent vibe as a place for political junkies who enjoy a lively debate regardless of where someone stands on the spectrum.
Loveinwar conducts a casual tracking of singles’ political views, asking singles to fill out a mood gauge that ranges from "Clinton mellow" to "Dean angry." Singles are also asked the "name of the soundtrack of their revolution."
"This is a site for people who take their politics seriously but don’t take themselves too seriously," said 24-year-old Bryan Carlin, founder of Loveinwar.com. The Web site also sells T-shirts that say, "Sharpton is my homeboy."
"It seems like political discourse is left versus right and the other side is considered ev il," said Carlin, who describes himself as an "ex-Democrat wandering the political wilderness."
"I am tired of it, and I wanted to have more fun with it."
This year, American singles are expected to spend $398 million on online dating memberships, up from $47 million in 2000.
Online dating is "a cluttered marketplace," Elliott said, "and niche dating sites take the market and break it down."
"Finding a mate who has the same ideals and values as you is a good first step," Sandoval said.
But what about the Libertarians? asks 42-year-old Charles Dean, a single technical writer in Duluth, Ga.
"A Libertarian online dating site — now, that is something I would definitely be interested in," said Dean, also president of Atlanta Single Hikers.
But Terri Leidich, founder and executive director of Atlanta’s Upscale Singles, a social group for singles 40 to 65, believes a political tone of online dating — of any kind — could be a turnoff for many singles.
"For some singles, I think the political sites would be too limiting," said Leidich of Atlanta. "As one woman has said to me, ‘There are two things you don’t discuss when you first start dating someone: Politics and religion.’ "