We’ve put on our bifocals to crunch the numbers, and roughly every other tweet about The Bachelor’s premiere on Monday evening included the words “cochlear implants” or “Republican” in them, with the latter pertaining to the supposed political leanings of leading man Matt James, the franchise’s first Black bachelor. James, some users gleefully declared, is a supporter of the Republican Party, despite the fact that he lives in an overwhelmingly liberal city. Has he been privately championing an electoral vote overturn and/or Mar-a-Lago vacations this entire time? Well, we can’t officially declare anything, but here’s what we know for certain: As first identified by the Bachelor sub-Reddit several months ago, James, who was born and raised in North Carolina, was a registered Republican with an active voting record in New York State as of June 2020. When checked by Vulture on January 5, James’s registration has since changed to “not enrolled in a party,” which confirms he has switched public party affiliations since accepting his Bachelor role. (This information is public and can be freely searched on the State Board of Elections website.)
While James has never made a direct comment about his political ideology, his mother — who appeared on The Bachelor’s premiere episode — follows Republican-leaning accounts on Instagram, which include President Trump, Melania Trump, and evangelist Franklin Graham. In the premiere, James also alluded to the fact that he generally prefers dating a certain type of woman, admitting to host Chris Harrison that he’s in a “tough” position. “You’ve got people who have certain views, old-school views, on what a relationship and what love looks like, and you’ve got people who are cheering for you to find love,” he explained. “And then you’ve got people who are cheering for you to end up with a specific person, a specific person of a specific race. That’s something that kept me up at night. It’s like, I don’t want to piss off Black people, I don’t want to piss off white people, but I’m both of those, you know what I mean? It’s like, how do I please everybody?”
While discussions about political identity have rarely, if ever, popped up on Bachelor or Bachelorette episodes in favor of fatuous dates, newfound scrutiny on the topic has been surrounding the franchise. Former Bachelorette lead Becca Kufrin recently ended her engagement to her season’s winner due to his very open alt-right beliefs, while Tayshia Adams’s season featured a wide-ranging and poignant discussion about the Black Lives Matter movement between her and contestant Ivan Hall. James, meanwhile, is selling a bunch of merchandise featuring his shirtless body.