Why do we call Republican-voting states red states and Democratic-voting states blue states? The first election color map, in 1972 on CBS, actually used blue for Republicans and red for Democrats. Soon after, other networks started using their own colored maps without any particular methodologies. For the 1980 and 1984 elections, most sources used red for Reagan (simply due to the alliteration) and blue for his opponents, and that seemed to have stuck. By 1996, every media outlet was using the color scheme as we know it today, and that was soon picked up on by pundits and comedians. The extra emphasis on election maps following the 2000 voting controversy in Florida sparked comments about red states and blue states, which led to the parties increasingly associating themselves with those colors and closing the loop. CNN was the first to use the term purple state in 2002, and the words only really took off in the last fifteen years. As a Gen Z-er, I had no idea the development was so recent, which fascinates me.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.