This woman is using Tinder to canvass for Democratic candidates in swing states

Meet Jen Winston, the woman using Tinder to campaign for Democratic candidates. (Photo: Jen Winston)
Meet Jen Winston, the woman using Tinder to campaign for Democratic candidates. (Photo: Jen Winston)

Don’t have time to canvass for your party and find true love online? To that, one woman says why not both? Jen Winston, writer and founder of feminist media brand Girl Power Supply, is using her Tinder profile to get people to swipe right (a Tinder thumbs-up) on Democratic candidates in swing states.

“I’ve just been jumping into it with guys, I’m like, ‘Hey, what are you doing next Tuesday? Are you voting?’” says Winston.

Winston, a self-proclaimed “serial online dater,” was planning on canceling her $9.99-per-month subscription to Tinder Plus when she realized she could use the Passport feature on Tinder to match with people in the location of her choice. She saw this as an opportunity to connect with people in key swing states and encourage them to get out and vote on Nov. 6, particularly for progressive Democratic candidates. “I’m not cat-fishing people or lying about my identity,” Winston tells Makers.

“I’m being completely honest and telling people that I’m only on here to vote, and I think some people are inspired to see people out to vote.

“Tinder banking” is a new strategy in political campaigning whereby people use dating apps to engage potential voters. Winston saw it as a way to be involved in races she cared about without having to buy plane tickets to get across the country to knock on people’s doors.

“I’m from Indiana and I don’t vote there anymore,” says Winston, who is based in New York. “But I wish I could talk to people there about these issues. And I just wish I could be everywhere in the country at once to talk eye to eye to people.”

Jen Winston has been Tinder banking in North Dakota, Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada.
Jen Winston has been Tinder banking in North Dakota, Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada.

Using Tinder, Winston has virtually canvassed in North Dakota, Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada. Although the political tool received criticism when used in a campaign for a New York congressional candidate earlier this year, Winston’s meme of one of her conversations was received with an outpouring of support with over 7,000 retweets. Her viral moment inspired others to start Tinder banking as well, with Twitter users hailing from as far as London replying to her original thread with their own Tinder banking conversations. One inspired Twitter user, Ben Luke, even matched with a fellow Tinder banker in North Dakota.

Despite the overwhelming response to her tweet online, swaying voters to go blue has been less productive. Although she removed all partisan language from her profile to invite matches from either side of the aisle, Winston has mostly matched with fellow Democrats. Regardless, the online activist has achieved her goal, nonetheless.

“I was doing this a little bit for the meme,” Winston says. “Most of my work is de-intellectualizing politics and making the space easier for people to answer. I just wanted people to be talking about voting. I don’t think it’s the most effective way to be campaigning.”

Through Girl Power Supply and its social media platforms, the activist has been using funny memes and tweets to start conversations about contentious and complex issues and topics like feminism, racism, and, of course, politics.

“If you can ignore politics, you will because it’s not fun. So I’m trying to make it more fun by campaigning on Tinder,” she says. “I would trade this viral tweet for a real difference.”

With a background in communications and social media, Winston has been using humor and digital media to encourage other people to engage in conversation and take action. She hopes to erase the misconception that to be engaged in activism and social issues, one has to be “perfect,” a topic she talks about in a book she’s writing, The Big Unlearn. But for now, her Tinder banking excursion has done its job — and snagged her a couple of date invitations via email.

“At the bare minimum, if this makes one person talk to something about whether they’re going to go to the polls or not or whether they’re planning on voting for and why, then it’s done its job as a piece of content.”

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