Origin of Red States, Blue States

Since the presidential election of 2000 the idea of red (Republican) and blue (Democrat) states has become commonplace in the media, to the point where it is accepted that everyone knows what they are. The general idea is that blue states tend to be more liberal politically, while red states are more conservative. The terms red and blue states began to be widely used during the 2000 Presidential campaign on electoral maps in the media. After the election the media continued using this color scheme to describe Republican and Democratic states, painting each with a broad brush. The reality is far more complicated than this simple red/blue dichotomy, as you will see in this online exhibit.

For a more thorough discussion of the history of the red/blue state concept, see this New York Times article. Note that until 2000 it was not universally accepted that red was Republican and blue Democratic, and that the color scheme used to be reversed.

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