Think it’s always been a matter of red states for Republicans and and blue states for Democrats? Check your color coding, that only goes back to the 2000 election.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, the first color-coded electoral map didn’t debut on TV until 1976, when NBC marked Republican-dominated states with blue and Democratic states with red. The colors were snatched from the UK’s standard, which was to associate blue with the more conservative party; red with liberal.
It wasn’t until 2000’s long drawn-out election that the political shorthand so familiar today was developed. The New York Times and USA Today both published color electoral maps to try and untangle the confusion of the election the day after polls closed, both using red for Republicans and blue for Democrats. The reasoning behind the decision, it turns out, was very simple.
“I just decided red begins with ‘r,’ Republican begins with ‘r.’ It was a more natural association,” said Archie Tse, senior graphics editor for the Times. “There wasn’t much discussion about it.”
And, voila. The standard was set.
DOWNLOAD THE DAILY ON THE APP STORE