Red State vs. Blue State

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Difference between Red State and Blue State

The terms red state and blue state aren't actually new, although they have recently come into widespread use beginning in 2000. Referring to the slant towards the Democratic Party and the Republican Party respectively, the two terms have roots that go beyond geographical boundaries, as we will see in this comparison article.

Red State
Blue State

Definition

Blue state is the term used to refer to states that vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party, and a red state refers to states that vote for the Republican Party. Interestingly enough, these color designations were often reversed before the elections held in 2000, and back then, some other colors were in use as well. Tim Russert supposedly coined the terms during coverage of the 2000 elections. That being said, the coverage wasn't the first time that colored maps were used to illustrate voter preferences in the different states, although it was the first time that the color scheme came into widespread public acceptance. Since then, the terms red state and blue state have also been used to refer to conservative and liberal states respectively.

In History

Interestingly enough, there was no widely accepted or recognized color scheme in effect in the United States prior to the 2000 elections. In fact, many of the representations stuck to the European model in which red was used to symbolize leftist parties. That being said, the practice of using colors designations for specific electoral parties can be traced to 1908, when a map that signified Democrats with blue and Republicans with yellow was published in The New York Times. Much later, the television audiences saw the use of red for Democrats and blue for Republicans, as was the case in the NBC coverage of the presidential candidates. 

Controversies

Much of the differences between the red states and the blue states have manifested themselves in instances of cultural and political polarization. These issues were brought to the fore after the 2004 elections, in which increased media attention simply highlighted tensions between both camps. There have even been some humorous suggestions with regard to the impending red state-blue state secession.

In any case, the political polarization is quite evident when examined with regard to counties. It was determined that almost 50% of all United States voters lived in counties that voted Bush or Kerry by as much as 20 percentage points in 2004. In contrast, only 25% of all voters lived in such counties in 1976.

Finally, it is worthwhile to note that while the "Democratic blue" and "Republican red" affiliations are now quite commonplace in the current journalism environment, these designations have yet to be officially accepted by the respective parties.

Similarities and Differences

Red state

  • Refers to states that vote for the Republican Party

Blue state

  • Used to refer to states that vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party
  • Designations have yet to be officially accepted by the respective parties

Which color is smarter?
  • Red State
  • Blue State
 
 

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