Then, later in the broadcast, the team shows the current map of who’s winning which state. And that, too, is jarring.
The Democrats are blue and the Republicans are … yellow? Why aren’t they red? The answer is: Because the assignation of red-as-Republican, blue-as-Democrat didn’t become the standard until the last election of the third century in which America existed: the election of 2000.
There have been a number of good assessments of how the way in which we depict the two parties has evolved. One of the earliest appeared here in the Post, shortly before the 2004 election. There was one shortly after that in Washington Monthly which is often cited; probably the most thorough is this one, from the Smithsonian.
What’s clear is that, prior to 2000, talking about “red states” and “blue states” wouldn’t necessarily have resulted in any understanding from your audience. In 1992, David Nyhan