Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Is Red The Color Of Republicans

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While Many Conservative Parties Around The World Are Associated With Blue In Us Elections The Republicans Are Denoted By Red And The Convention Is A Relatively Recent Development

David Hughes

For those who don’t follow US politics closely, aspects of the vote might seem confusing – from how the electoral college and popular vote work to which swing states can decide the vote.

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The uninitiated might also be unfamiliar with the maps and graphics on TV showing states turn “red” and “blue” as the results are announced – here’s how the colours work.

When Red Meant Democratic And Blue Was Republican A Brief History Of Tv Electoral Maps

Stephen Battaglio

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Forty years ago this week, TV started telling the story of the presidential election as a battle between red states and blue states. 

When the die-hards and political junkies who stayed up until 3:30 a.m. Eastern time on Nov. 3, 1976, watched NBC’s John Chancellor call Mississippi and the election for Jimmy Carter, they saw the win signified on the 14-foot-high molded plastic map of the United States mounted on a wall behind the anchor.

————For the RecordNov. 8, 3:41 p.m.: The caption for the 1976 photograph of the original NBC electoral map misidentifies Cassie Mackin as Jessica Savitch.————

The state was then lighted up in red — the color the network had assigned for the Democratic candidate.

The party colors were eventually reversed. But from that night forward, that simple piece of stagecraft in Studio 8H at Rockefeller Center became the visual shorthand in detailing the race for the 270 electoral votes needed for the White House. 

Digital versions of the electoral map have since become a living tool for on-air analysts — a way of feeding election-night suspense as each state turns red or blue. Since 2008, CNN’s John King has presented electoral college scenarios on a touch-screen the cable news network called its “magic wall.”

It is so beautiful I wish that after the election I could take it home, but I don’t have a room big enough to hold it. It’s enormous and it’s gorgeous.

— David Brinkley

How Did The 2000 Election Solidify Red For Republican And Blue For Democrat

The 2000 election between Gore and Bush was a momentous event for American politics. The election became a constitutional crisis and dragged on for 36 days, leading to constant television and newspaper coverage of recounts and debates over which candidate won each swing state. Networks “banded together” on their color selection for each party for the purposes of uniformity, choosing red to represent states Bush won, and blue for those Gore won.

It was also during this election that the New York Times and USA Today ran their first full-color electoral state maps featuring red for Republican and blue for Democrat. 

Do you know where the Democrat and Republican Parties got their names? Find out here

But why these particular colors? That’s a difficult question to answer because all news stations want to take credit for what is now the standard.

The credit of the colors rests in part with New York Times graphics editor Archie Tse, who used red for Republicans in 2000 election maps because “red begins with R, Republican begins with R.” Whatever the reason, all of the news outlets certainly played a part in establishing blue and red as the colors when they collectively used them the same way.

How Did Red And Blue Come To Represent The Two Major Us Political Parties

It all started with television. In the early 1970s, networks like ABC, NBC, and CBS were seeking a way to demarcate which states in the electoral college had been won by each candidate. More American households had color TV sets than ever before, giving news programs covering the election an opportunity to show splashy graphics when a state was called in favor of a given candidate. 

The first network to color-code states during an election results broadcast was CBS in 1972. However, at that time, blue represented the states won by the Republican incumbent Richard Nixon, and red stood in for those taken by challenger US Senator George McGovern of South Dakota.

There’s a good reason why those colors were chosen for each party at the time: global precedent. In Great Britain, red had long been used to represent the more liberal party, which in this American use case were the Democrats. Blue stood in for Republicans by default, in part because the colors in contrast were striking on screen.

But by the late-1980s and early 1990s, those color assignments reversed. Blue became more consistently used for Democrats and red for Republicans

Nevertheless, it still wasn’t until 2000—the race between Democrat and Vice President Al Gore and Republican Texas Governor George W. Bush—that those colors became synonymous with the name of each party.

The Origins Of Red And Blue As Political Colors For Republicans Democrats

Political Colors: How Do Blue and Red Reflect the Spirit ...

Red. Blue.

They have many associations, but conjure them right now and electoral maps will probably come to mind. You know, the ones designating Republican and Democratic states.

The color coding seems obvious. Red and blue are the colors of the American flag, along with white.

But red and blue, as colors, have a complicated relationship. They, along with yellow, are primary colors from which all others are derived. You see them together on the basic color wheel, neighbors but not necessarily friends.

The color wheel explains how we perceive colors and the feelings we attach to them.

Red is warm, blue is cool.

“Red is passionate,” says Jane Doggett, a graphic designer and color-theory expert who designed the blue and red wayfinding system at Tampa International Airport. “It’s associated with blood. Also the heart.”

“Blue is more calming,” says Judith Dazzio, another artist and color-theory expert who is the owner of the Dazzio Art Experience in St. Petersburg.

The colors can be difficult to use together in art because of their high contrast and are, in art parlance, considered noncomplementary.

So is there a special or subliminal meaning to the assignation of red to Republicans and blue to Democrats?


The parties do not officially embrace their media colors, and some say the color coding is oversimplified.

On red and Republicans, Schale said, “There’s an element of the Republican Party that tends to have more moral certainty.”

Why Is Red The Color Of Republicans And Blue The Color Of Democrats

It’s pretty obvious why it has stuck. The protracted 2000 election dispute and subsequent use of “red” and “blue” in the media kept confirming the usage. It was a snowball effect.

Evidently we have exhausted the General Questions aspects of this discussion and are well into the realm of personal opinions. Personally, I associate rednecks with red and perceive of the Confederate Navy Jack, which is much more popular among Republicans than Democrats, as a predominanty red flag. I think my view is shared by many Yankees, maybe I’m wrong.

The parties themselves have not adopted blue and red as their official colors. I would be surprised if they did, because it would leave them open to charges of being unpatriotic. The national colors – red, white, and blue – are particularly important and evocative in American society and culture. A major political party is unlikely to choose anything else but red, white, and blue as their official colors.

Not officially, of course. But most yard signs and other candidate signs tend to follow that color scheme, even at the local level.

I seem to remember the whole thing starting with a USA Today map showing the electoral votes in each state won by the candidate in the red and blue colors. The map was so striking it just took off from there.

I cannot claim to know the ‘color codings’ of political parties in all countries, but in Europe red is associated with left-wing parties and blue is the color for right-wing parties .

Off The Wall: Red Blue & Purple: The Visuality Of The Electoral Map

During the weeklong Election Day, The New York Times electoral map was permanently open as a tab on my computer. I stared and refreshed. 

Eventually, the white-outlined states turned to gray as votes began reporting, and then turned to red or blue, or the ever-exciting red or blue stripe to denote a flipped state.

Later in the week, I saw this post from Decolonial Atlas on Instagram, a volunteer-run page and blog that produces maps to alter perceptions about land and people. Although I try to remain skeptical of Instagram infographics, the concept behind this one was too exciting. Instead of mapping the states’ majority vote by filling it in red or blue, it showed how close elections were with shades of purple. 

“There are no blue states or red states, just a bunch of purple states full of people who don’t know their neighbors,” the caption read. 

This graphic is a more accurate picture of the United States. While not obviously art, the aesthetics of representations of our country that we stare at so frequently can be analyzed as any other art piece. And, as is crucial to note, how we see our country in these electoral maps has immense consequences on our perceptions of our differences.

Still, while the red and blue map looks great on television, it is simply not a reality. We’re all a little more purple.

You’ll Never Guess Why Republicans Are Red Democrats Blue

Hint: It has nothing to do with patriotism.

America 101: Why Red for Republicans and Blue for Democrats?

? — The drama over the Electoral College and popular vote split caused political chaos during the 2000 election, but those turbulent days led to at least one orderly solution.

That’s when television networks banded together to color Republicans red on their electoral map graphics and Democrats blue.

The color associations had nothing to do with politics or patriotism. And both parties were apparently reluctant for many years to be associated with the color red.

Learn why that changed in the video above.

The Latest Key Updates On The 2020 Us Election Results

However, in the US blue represents the more left-leaning Democrats, while the Republicans denoted by red, as per Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” caps.

One might assume that the colours represent a long-standing tradition, but they’re a relatively recent feature of US elections.

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What time do polls close in the US election? UK schedule for every state tonight

According to Professor David Scott Kastan of Yale University, writing inThe Conversation, the system’s origins lie in the spread of colour TV in the late 1960s, when colour-coded maps were first used on election TV broadcasts.

The red and blue colouring was a nod to the British system, The Verge reports, but initially there was no permanent colour association for either party.

TV networks changed the map coding from election to election, with Prof Kastan explaining: “In Cold War America, networks couldn’t consistently identify one party as “red” – the color of communists and, in particular, the Soviet Union – without being accused of bias.”

Indeed, there were famous US election nights where the current colour scheme was memorably reversed.

What Would Have To Happen For A 3rd Party To Be Viable

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But the reason we prefer a relative metric to an absolute one is so that we can better understand how a state or district might vote in a given national environment. For example, if polls of the generic congressional ballot are suggesting Republicans will win the House popular vote by 6 points, we might be able to infer that a Democratic congresswoman sitting in a district with a D+4 partisan lean is in danger. Orienting partisan lean around a nationally tied election doesn’t imply that a national tie is our default expectation; it just simplifies the math of overlaying it on different national moods .

The other thing to know about our partisan lean score is that it doesn’t simply reflect the results of a single presidential election . Rather, this version of partisan lean is calculated as 50 percent the state or district’s lean relative to the nation in the 2020 presidential election, 25 percent its relative lean in the 2016 presidential election and 25 percent a custom state-legislative lean based on the statewide popular vote in the last four state House elections.3

related:Why Some House Districts Won’t Have A Representative For Almost A Year Read more. »

Mary Radcliffe, Aaron Bycoffe, Nate Silver and Geoffrey Skelley contributed research.

The History Of The Colors Of The Us Political Parties

The history of the colors of the U.S. political parties is rich. According to the article The Color of Politics,

“It got started on TV, the original electronic visual, when NBC, the first all-color network, unveiled an illuminated map — snazzy for its time — in 1976. John Chancellor was the NBC election night anchor who explained how states were going to be blue if they voted for incumbent Republican Gerald Ford, red if they voted for Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter.”

While the idea of colored states got started in 1976, it wasn’t until 2000 that states were definitely referred to as “red states” and “blue states,” and its roots are linked to the Civil War. For example. texts and reference books used blue to represent the Republican party since blue was the color of the Union in the Civil War. “Blue is also typically associated with the more conservative parties in Europe and elsewhere,” wrote a contributor to NPR.

Red Vs Blue: A History Of How We Use Political Colors

There’s a lot to love in the video above, showing ABC’s election night coverage from the 1976 elections. The introductory music and wavering animation of a Minuteman’s head, the tickertape sound effects, the faces of journalists we recognize, but minus four decades. Harry Reasoner welcomes viewers to “this first election of our third century,” a jarring statement, until you remember that any presidential election in 1976 would necessarily be soaked in patriotic recognition of the bicentennial.


Then, later in the broadcast, the team shows the current map of who’s winning which state. And that, too, is jarring.

The Democrats are blue and the Republicans are … yellow? Why aren’t they red? The answer is: Because the assignation of red-as-Republican, blue-as-Democrat didn’t become the standard until the last election of the third century in which America existed: the election of 2000.

There have been a number of good assessments of how the way in which we depict the two parties has evolved. One of the earliest appeared here in the Post, shortly before the 2004 election. There was one shortly after that in Washington Monthly which is often cited; probably the most thorough is this one, from the Smithsonian.

NBC kept using red-for-Democrats, blue-for-Republicans until at least 1984. By 1988, no network footage that we found used that combination, instead opting for the now-familiar Republican red, Democratic blue.

Why Is The Elephant A Symbol Of The Republican Party


The Republican Party, or the Grand Old Party, is one of the two most successful and major political parties in the US . The party was founded in 1854 by those who were opposed to the Kansas-Nebraska Act which allowed for slavery to be expanded into other territories within the US. Since its founding, a total of 19 people have been elected president on a Republican ticket, including the incumbent president, Donald Trump. The Republican Party is headquartered in Washington DC’s 310 First Street SE and has a membership of over 30 million people.

Party Symbol

How the Elephant became a Party Symbol

The elephant was not intentionally decided or chosen to represent the Republican Party. The symbol was first used as a political symbol in 1864 during Lincoln’s campaign and also in 1872 by the Harper’s. However, Thomas Nest is credited with popularizing the symbol. He first published it in Harper’s Weekly in 1874 under the title “The Third Panic”.In his drawing, Nast depicted a donkey clothed in a lion’s skin scaring and chasing away the animals in the zoo, including the elephant which was labeled “the Republican vote.” The elephant was shown as standing near a pit. The cartoon portrayed Nast’s frustration with the Republican, the party that he had supported since its emergence in New York. He felt that the party was straying away from social liberalism.

Edit: About The Political Symbolism Of The Color Red

Today the color red is associated with Communism. This was even more so during the Cold War.

The Soviet Union, China, Vietnam and other countries had or still have national flags, which are dominated by red. During the Cold War red was the color of the enemy. Western maps depicted NATO countries in blue and members of the Warsaw Pact in red. Nobody would want red as their color, if they didn’t have a good reason .

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War it became okay to be associated with the color red. Blue was claimed by the Democrats. Plenty other colors have also undesired connotations. Yellow is visually not so attrative – especially in front of a white paper background. So, why not red?

Color Of The Republicans And Color Of The Democrats

For Americans today, red and blue are closely associated with the Republican and Democratic parties. But this was not always the case — the colors began to be associated with the parties only after the 2000 elections.

That’s what the election results looked like on American television in the era of black and white screens — not very informative, you might agree. Photo: www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPKaGrYGcT8

Everything changed with the advent and popularization of color television in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

To understand where the «blue» and «red» states came from, we need to go back to the time when the media first used color maps to report the election results. At the time of the 1972 presidential election, most U.S. housewives were already watching TV shows on color TVs. Naturally, each of the three major TV companies broadcasted programs about the election race in color. To differentiate itself from the competition, CBS created the first color-coded election map in American television history.

Map of results of presidential elections. The red indicates states that supported the Democrats; the blue indicates the Republicans. Photo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZdoLwxB3lw

Soon, CBS’s innovation began to be used on other television channels, and the very division into colors quickly took root among the masses.

The red color of the Democrats, in turn, was associated with the Left, primarily with the Communist parties.

Photo: posterplakat.com

Elections in 2000

Which States Are Considered Red And Which Are Blue

To go along with the colors, the terms “red state” and “blue state” were popularized by anchorman Tim Russert during and immediately after the 2000 election. Today, these terms are used to refer to which party a state voted for during a presidential election. 

Generally speaking, the Northeast and the West Coast are considered a collection of blue states as most of them have sided with the Democrats since the early 1990s.

The Southern states have sided with Republicans since the 2000s, while the Midwest tends to be tougher to predict. For example, Illinois and Minnesota are currently considered blue states, while Missouri and Nebraska are red. Hawaii and Alaska have been traditionally considered blue and red respectively as neither has switched parties since the late 1980s .

The Southwest has been split since 2000 with Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado going blue more often than red and Utah and Arizona voting predictably red. Finally, we come to the coveted “purple states” or “swing states,” such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan. These states switched colors in recent elections and are often a key focus of electoral campaigning and strategy. Swing states can vary by election year.

Why Is Red For Republicans And Blue For Democrats

In any 2020 electoral map, the color scheme is clear: Red is for Republicans, blue is for Democrats. But where did this universal agreement on color-coding come from? 

It’s relatively new. Though red and blue have often been used to stand in for opposing sides in U.S. political history, it’s only since the 2000 election that red and blue have been assigned to the political parties consistently. 

That year, The New York Times and USA Today published full-color electoral maps for the first time, and according to The Verge, they assigned the colors fairly arbitrarily. 

“ed begins with r, Republican begins with r,” senior graphics editor Archie Tse told The Verge. “It was a more natural association.”

Related: Why did the Democratic and Republican parties switch platforms?

The political parties have now embraced their assigned colors, with Democrats urging citizens to “Vote Blue!” and supporters of Donald Trump donning red “Make America Great Again” hats. But it could have easily gone the other way. According to The History Channel, the first colorful electoral maps on television were broadcast in 1976, but there was no consistency between networks as to what colors were used for which party. Red often stood in for Democrats, and blue for Republicans. 

The 6 strangest presidential elections in US history

Originally published on Live Science.

The History Of Party Colors In The United States

Prior to the United States presidential election of 2000, which party was Red and which was Blue was largely a matter of which color a news outlet chose. On the October 30, 2000, episode of the Today show, Tim Russert coined the terms “red state” and “blue state.”

As far back as the 1888 election blue was used to represent the northern Union states and red the south, but this wasn’t consistent throughout time . In the 70’s and 80’s the major networks starting using lighted maps to illustrate election results. Democrats were often coded blue and Republicans red, but it wasn’t consistent. This inconsistent coloring continued throughout the Clinton years and up to the Gore Vs. Bush. This can all be varied by old videos and articles.

Contrast With Color Usage In Other Countries

The recent association of colors in American politics lies contrary to the long-standing conventions of political color in most other countries whereby red symbols ” rel=”nofollow”>red flag or red star) are associated with left-wing politics. Indeed, as late as the 1990s, Democrats were often represented by red and Republicans by blue. According to The Washington Post, journalist Tim Russert coined these terms during his televised coverage of the 2000 presidential election. The 2000 election was not the first during which the news media used colored maps to depict voter preferences in the various states, but it was the first time a standard color scheme took hold. In previous elections, the color assignments or even the actual colors used were often different.

Electoral Map: Blue Or Red States Since 2000

As the 2016 election cycle approached, the electoral map had become pretty predictable. All but 10 states11Plus one congressional district in Nebraska had voted consistently Democratic or Republican for the prior four consecutive presidential elections. For the GOP, this represented 179 electoral votes. The Democratic states, comprising 242 electoral votes had all actually gone blue since 1992 – six straight elections. Further highlighting this polarization:  While relatively competitive overall, only four states were decided by less than 5% popular vote margin in the 2012 presidential election.


Why Are Republicans Red And Democrats Blue

50 United States colored in Republican Red, Democrat Blue ...

Today, citizens across the US are casting their ballots, hoping to tip the balance of their state to red or blue, but few stop to wonder from where the concepts of “red” and “blue” states stem. According to Smithsonian Magazine, red did not always denote the Republican party and blue wasn’t always symbolic of Democrats — this now-common lexicon only dates back to the 2000 election.

In 1976, NBC debuted its first election map on the air, with bulbs that turned red for Carter-won states , and blue for Ford . This original color scheme was based on Great Britain’s political system, which used red to denote the more liberal party. However, other stations used different colors and designations for a variety of ideological and aesthetic reasons, which often differed from person to person.

“It was a more natural association.”

The color coding we’re familiar with today didn’t stick until the iconic election of 2000, when The New York Times and USA Today published their first full-color election maps. The Times spread used red for Republicans because “red begins with r, Republican begins with r,” said the senior graphics editor Archie Tse, “it was a more natural association.” The election, which didn’t end until mid-December, firmly established Democrats as the blue party and Republicans as the red — denotations which will likely hold fast for some time to come.

Why The Color Red For The Republican Party

The US Republican Party’s official color is Red yet in general political circles that color has been used by Socialist groups and movements. Since the party publicly condemns Socialism why would they brand with Red?

Active Oldest Votes

As Kevin Drum found , from 1976 to 2004, the incumbent party’s coloring alternated. As it happened, from 1976 through 1996, this meant that the Republicans were the blue party five of six times . But no one particularly noticed.

In 2000 and 2004, the Republicans were the red party by that system. And in 2000, it mattered . Because in 2000, the race was close enough that the contested election in Florida mattered. So they spent weeks showing the states broken down under the 2000 color scheme. And because the challenger in 2000 were the incumbents in 2004, they had the same color scheme even though it alternated. Then 2008 arrived and everyone was accustomed to Republicans being red, so it stuck even though it was the Democrats’ turn.

It might not have stuck if it were not that red communism collapsed in the early 1990s. So thinking about red being a communist color was not particularly topical in any of 2000, 2004, or 2008. Bernie Sanders started a revival of socialism in 2016, which continued in 2018. In that context, it seems more important now than it did in 2008 or 2012.

TL;DR: Republicans did not choose red; it was chosen by a historical accident.

Why Do We Have Red States And Blue States

If you’ve watched the news as a presidential election heats up, you’re probably well aware that political pundits like to use the color red to represent the Republican Party and blue for the Democratic Party. A “red state” votes Republican in presidential elections and Senate races, while a “blue state” leans Democratic.

No matter which news program you favor, they all use these same colors to represent the parties. So it would be reasonable to assume these must be the official colors of these two parties and have been used for over a hundred years, right?

Surprisingly … no. Republicans haven’t always been associated with the color red, nor have Democrats affiliated their party with blue. In fact, the whole notion of consistently attaching a particular hue to each political party is a relatively new concept in the US, not emerging as a common distinction until the 2000 presidential election between Democrat and Vice President Al Gore and Republican Texas Governor George W. Bush.

But why red for Republicans? And why does blue stand for Democrats?

Let’s break it down.

Age Gender Marital Status And Religion

As a group, young adults under age 40 sided with Obama. More married men voted for McCain, but more single men voted for Obama. Generally, the same held true for married versus single women, but a higher percentage of women overall voted for Obama than for McCain. Catholic and ProtestantChristians were more likely to vote for McCain than for Obama, whereas voters of other faiths, as well as secular atheist and agnostic voters, predominantly favored Obama. White, middle-aged, Christian, married males made up McCain’s largest constituency.

Weve Updated Our Partisan Lean Scores


Last fall, Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Arizona since 1996 and the first to carry Georgia since 1992. But does this mean Arizona and Georgia are now blue states? 

Well, not yet — at least by our definition.

Allow us to introduce 1 you to FiveThirtyEight’s partisan lean metric — our way of measuring the partisanship of a state or district, similar to the Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voter Index or Inside Elections’s Baseline. We define “partisan lean” as the average margin difference2 between how a state or district votes and how the country votes overall.For example, if a state has a FiveThirtyEight partisan lean of R+5, that means it is 5 percentage points more Republican-leaning than the nation as a whole. Put another way, in an election that’s exactly tied nationally, we would expect Republicans to win that state by 5 points.

The FiveThirtyEight partisan lean of every state

Average margin difference between how each state votes and how the country votes overall in congressional and gubernatorial elections, according to a blend of presidential and state-legislative election results


We’ve also calculated partisan lean for every congressional district, which you can find on our GitHub page.

Same Since 2000: After 2020 Election

The last two elections have seen five states and a district in Maine break their same party streaks. To win in 2016, Donald Trump broke through some of the ‘blue wall’ of 242 electoral votes that had voted Democratic in each presidential election since at least 1992. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and one district in Maine voted Republican in 2016.  

In 2020, Joe Biden won Georgia and Arizona, states that had last voted Democratic in 1992 and 1996, respectively. 

All five of the aforementioned states were decided by 1% or less in the year they came off this map.

If you’re curious how long the streak is for each state, visit our ‘Same Since’ Electoral Map Timeline.  .

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