February 11, 2006

A Tale of Red and Blue

Hatched by Dafydd

Just as a heads up, don't get too comfy talking about "red states" and "blue states;" because in 2008, you're going to have to flip your worldview.

Well... maybe! Nothing is certain.

According to Kevin Drum, a lefty blogger whose blog (Political Animal) appears on the left-leaning Washington Monthly magazine website, the Powers That Be in the realm of what color to shade the states on the big board have a system: since no party wants to be the permanent red party (for obvious reasons), each presidential election, the incumbent party is supposed to switch colors. (Red and blue are used -- with white the color of states not yet called -- because those are the national colors.)

However, the incumbency may also switch parties; that's what happened between 2000 and 2004, which left the GOP red in both elections. Here was the sequence of events: in 2000, the incumbent party was blue, and the Democrats were the incumbents (remember some guy named Clinton?); therefore, states won by the GOP were colored red on the network maps, because they were the challengers.

In 2004, the incumbent party was red; however, now the Republicans were the incumbents. So once again, the Republicans were red -- but this time because they were the incumbents, not the challengers.

You have to go back to 1996 -- ten years ago (twelve years before 2008) to find an election where the GOP was blue; that's because the Democrats were the incumbents, and the incumbents were red that year.

However, in 2008, the incumbent party will be blue again (it was red in 2004, remember?) And since the Republicans currently hold la Casablanca, that means the GOP will be blue and the Democrats will be red. Confused yet? Don't worry... you will be.

Here are all the colors that were supposed to be used, back to 1972:

Colors For Republicans and Democrats In Presidential Elections
 Year   Incumbent Color   Incumbent Party   GOP States   Dem States 
2008 Blue Republican Blue Red
2004 Red Republican Red Blue
2000 Blue Democratic Red Blue
1996 Red Democratic Blue Red
1992 Blue Republican Blue Red
1988 Red Republican Red Blue
1984 Blue Republican Blue Red
1980 Red Democratic Blue Red
1976 Blue Republican Blue Red
1972 Red Republican Red Blue

The problem with this formula is -- the networks themselves don't always follow it. From Wikipedia:

For example, from 1972 until at least 1992, NBC consistently showed Republican-won states in blue, and Democratic-won states in red. But other networks used other patterns. ABC, in at least two presidential elections during this time, used yellow for one major party and blue for the other. However, in 2000, for the first time ever, all the major broadcast networks and all the cable news outlets utilized the same color scheme: red for Republicans and blue for Democrats.

Looking at the chart, if NBC were following the supposed rule, then Republican states should have been shown in red in 1972 and 1988; but NBC evidently chose not to switch. (Neither did this website, though I'm not sure who created it.) And ABC's choice of yellow for one party (which one?) is just weird.

Now are you confused? I warned you!

But the pattern does appear to have been followed for the last four elections (since 1992). So if we assume that the networks actually plan to stick with it from now on, that means Republicans return to blue in 2008.

This would be pretty amusing, if it happened. How much rhetoric would abruptly become incomprehensible, as a "red state" suddenly meant Democratic, not Republican? Is somebody going to reprint all those t-shirts so that they show a vast sea of blue, with the tiny island-dots of red?

I suppose we don't have to change the purple states, except for those charts so detailed that they actually mix the proportional amount of red and blue together (they'll have to be retoned).

Or will everybody just keep saying red state for Republican and blue state for Democrat, keep the t-shirts the same, and just ignore the fact that the networks are showing the opposite colors on their electoral maps? Will some people use the old system, while the rest use the new? That's going to be confusing as heck.

Or will the creaky Antique Media just decide not to switch the colors, breaking a tradition (which itself appears to be a tradition!), just because they don't want to have to recolor all of their own graphics?

I reckon we'll just have to wait and see!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 11, 2006, at the time of 6:30 AM

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Tracked on February 14, 2006 12:05 AM


The following hissed in response by: hunter

What a bunch of bs. Blue was always the color for Republicans until 2000, and the MSM crammed the 'redstate' idea down our throats and into the popular lexicon. Now they want to jerk it around and confuse it, just in time to what? Confuse all the eeegnorant red state rednecks into voting wrong and accidentally put hillary in office?
In a day and age when the MSM is being seen, in its transparent kowtowing to Moslem threats of violence, when the MSM would rather leak top secret military intel programs than to be responsible, it is just eye rollingly laughable that these fools would waste their time and our patience pushing this kind of tripe out into the public square.
What is wrong with those media clowns? They can't find another set of forgeries to declare 'false but true'?

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 11, 2006 5:14 AM

The following hissed in response by: Bullington

I nominate urban camoflage for the donk states...

The above hissed in response by: Bullington [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 12, 2006 5:47 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

How about Yellow for the Dhimmocats?? ;-)

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 12, 2006 6:46 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

OOPs my URL got messed up

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 12, 2006 6:47 AM

The following hissed in response by: Steven Den Beste

The reason red and blue are used is because those colors can be distinguished from each other by people who are red-green color blind, and by those who are blue-yellow color blind. The latter is quite rare, but about 8% of adult men in the US are red-green color blind.

When the military publishes battlefield maps, it always uses red and blue, and by convention blue is always friendly, red is always hostile. I own a two-volume set of the West Point Atlas of American Wars, and it follows that convention in its maps. Thus when it shows maps of operations in North Africa in 1940, British forces are shown in blue and German/Italian forces are shown in red.

The above hissed in response by: Steven Den Beste [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 13, 2006 4:11 PM

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