The Colors of the Presidency

This most likely certifies my status as a political junkie, but the question I have is not who will win on Tuesday, but what color will the states be.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the map colors used by the media varied with the media outlet. In 1980, for example, NBC used blue for Ronald Reagan, the challenger. David Brinkley, then at NBC, said Reagan’s victory was “beginning to look like a suburban swimming pool.” Time magazine called it “Lake Reagan.”

In 1984, the maps varied by network. Some showed Lake Reagan flood the nation, and others showed what could arguably been called (give the outcome) a Reagan slaughter. The map, for some, was covered in red for Reagan,except Minnesota and the District of Columbia.

By the 1990’s the media had fairly standardized the color scheme. The challenger was always red and the incumbent was always blue. Notwithstanding that, the National Atlas of the United States, published by the US Geological Survey, maintains that, even in 2000, Bush states were blue and Gore states were red.

The 2000 election might have solidified the red state and blue state distinction. Republicans and conservatve voters are now commonly referred to as red state voters with Democrats and liberals being referred to as blue state voters.

Being a traditional political junkie, I think it would be great to see Bush states blue and Kerry states red. One way or another we will find out on Monday night.

For more reading on the subject, with more background, consider this Tom Zeller article from the New York Times.

About the author

Erick Erickson

View all posts

2 Comments

  • My god, if you’re going to bandy about terms you think are hip and cool, GET THEM RIGHT. I read the headline, “Chuckles in the Right side of the blogsphere over Kerry endorsements” which made me chuckle as it’s known as blogOsphere, which you did add in the body of the little piece you wrote. Change the headline, d00d, you look like a n00b.