Saturday, November 8, 2014

Why are some States Red and Some States Blue? Well, I'll tell you.

Did you ever wonder where the colors ‘blue’ for Democratic states and ‘red’ for Republican states came from?  I did.  The colors seem counter-intuitive, don’t they?  Lincoln was a Republican and the Union Army wore blue.  Political leftists, socialist, anarchists, and dare I say communists, have, over the years, been referred to as ‘Reds.’  The 1981 motion picture ‘Reds’ staring Warren Beatty was about a leftist activist and socialist writer.  Democrats are now described as on the ‘left;’ and Republicans on the ‘right.’

So I wondered if modern day journalists, or even politicians, sat down together and decided that calling the Democratic states 'red states' cut a little too close to the bone; and was, perhaps, inappropriate.  But, why are there Blue and Red states anyway?  Why not green and yellow, or some other combination?

Well, it appears that the color coding of states during elections was mostly due to color television.  During the 1976 Presidential Election, NBC constructed a large illuminated US map.  If Jimmy Carter (the Democrat) won a state, it lighted-up red.  If Gerald Ford (the Republican) won a state it lighted up blue.  This manner of reporting the states’ election results subsequently became very popular and ubiquitous.  But, as you might have noted, the colors, at the time, were the opposite of what they are now.

In the 1984 Presidential election, CBS used the opposite color scheme; red for Republican and blue for Democrat.  However, various networks and news sources used either.

During the 2000 Presidential election, most news sources had decided on red for Republican and blue for Democrat.  When a Time Magazine representative was asked why that was.  He remarked that ‘red’ starts with an R and so does Republican.  Yes, well, OK, I guess that makes sense.

So there you have it.  Believe it or not.

True Nelson
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