04 September 2008
Why are the Republicans red and the Democrats blue?
Have you ever wondered why the GOP uses red as its colour and the Democrats blue? It goes against the European tradition where the leftist party uses red as it colour. In Britain the Conservatives use blue, so that makes everything easy to understand.
The American parties have never had official colours, but with the advent of colour television the election reports tended to use the European coding, however that was never fixed and sometimes they were reversed.
In 2000 NBC used red for the Republicans and blue for the Democrats. About a week before the election one commentator made a remark about "red states" and it caught on especially give the 36 day period that followed the actual vote as disputed ballots were checked and rechecked.
David Letterman gave it a boost about a week after the election when he joked about a compromise that "make George W. Bush president of the red states and Al Gore head of the blue ones."
So there you are. The notion of red and blue states is now fixed in the public mind, but the idea only goes back to 2000, and a decision by one TV network to use the colours in that political order. Two throwaway remarks and one disputed election later and the parties now have their colours.