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Sharing a cause, campaign staffers find romance

Campaign Cupids are working overtime deep into the '08 primary season.

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In many regards the campaign trail is like the dating scene in the first year of college, say a number of seasoned politicos. It's an opportunity for real relationships to develop but which can also have a seamier side.

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"You're in a new place, you're out there on your own, [and] there's a lot of other people sharing the same experience," says Donnie Fowler, a 20-year campaign veteran. When he joined the Al Gore campaign in 1999, he says that of the 50 people in Mr. Gore's Nashville, Tenn., office, only four or five were over 30. "It's like spring break" for college students, he adds. "You do things on spring break you might not do in your normal life."

Nevertheless, taking an active role in community or political events can help even the most lovelorn singles.

"I always advocate ... that when you're trying to be socially strategic think about pursuing activities that offer continuity," says Robin Gorman Newman, a love coach who helps singles lead more successful social lives. "Getting involved with any cause that's close to your heart is a fantastic way to do that."

Difficulty of crossing party lines

Although campaign relationships seem to have an anything goes, caught-in-the-moment quality, the vast majority of campaigners say it's unlikely they'd ever get involved with someone from the opposing political party.

The 1993 marriage of Mary Matalin, deputy campaign manager for George H.W. Bush's reelection campaign, and James Carville, a consulting campaign strategist for Bill Clinton, is a rare exception. It's doubtful, for example, that supporters of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama and GOP hopeful Mike Huckabee would see eye-to-eye on issues such as evolution and abortion.

"It's not just one issue, it's a whole worldview," explains Pepper Schwartz, professor of sociology at the University of Washington and a relationship expert at

Those who campaign in their hometown may have slightly better odds at finding lasting love, she adds, because they're more grounded in their surroundings and reality. "The campaign trail is pretty glamorous. It's you against the world, you changing the world, you supporting your values and seeing them flourish or at least fighting the good fight," says Dr. Schwartz. "If you're doing it in your hometown, you still have to go back to your place, and do your laundry in your laundromat, and you still have the same friends to bounce your opinions off of."