The Democratic Base Is Too Broad to Function, Says Bishop Allen Guitarist and Internet Entrepreneur

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04/01/2010 2:55 PM |


A post at the cutesy dating site OK Cupid uses the profile data of the site’s users to chart the evolution of social and economic convictions, and corresponding party preferences, to draw up graphs backing up the conventional wisdom that the Democratic party’s big-tent approach makes it difficult to achieve intraparty consensus. (Pictured are both party’s constituencies; the X-axis moves from a free market to regulated one, and the Y-axis traces social progressivism.) It’s an attractively put-together data set, fairly logical and sound even in this age of 538, and novel for using romantic compatibility as a stand-in for political agreement.

The poster is Christian Rudder, one of the founders of OK Cupid, along with several of his Harvard buddies, who had previously worked together, a decade or so ago, to develop the SparkNotes study guides, and the procrastinate-from-studying humor site, whose personality test, and subsequent, racier tests—the Purity Test, for instance—you may recall taking in a large group in your school library around the turn of the century. Rudder also plays in critically acclaimed and respected Brooklyn indie-rock band Bishop Allen with his Harvard buddy Justin Rice (and both Rudder and Rice have starred in films by the Harvard buddy Andrew Bujalski; Rudder was in Funny Ha Ha in 2002, a few years after graduation). All of which biographical information I’ve just browsed through, as I was wondering why the guy from Bishop Allen was doing witty pop sociology on an online dating site.

This is all commonly accessible knowledge, but still, I was not previously aware that one of the guys from Bishop Allen wrote The Spark’s personality test. This is a lot like the time I belatedly found out that Hedy Lamarr invented wi-fi.