The Meaning of Red Versus Blue States And Party Identification

Tonight we will see a combination of red and blue states on the maps shown by every network. The identification of red states with Republicans and blue states with Democrats is now firmly established, but it came about by accident. When color television became common the networks would use color coded maps, but before 1976 colors varied as used by different news organizations. In 1976 the networks began to use the same colors. A formula was developed to alternate colors so that neither party would be stuck with one color in case this might give an advantage to one over the other.

Beginning in 1976 the colors alternated based upon incumbent party. In 2000 Democrats were blue as they held the White House, and they were again blue as they were the challengerin2004:


Year
Incumbent
Party
Incumbent
Color
Challenger
Color
1976 Republican Blue = Ford Red = Carter
1980 Democratic Red = Carter Blue = Reagan
1984 Republican Blue = Reagan Red = Mondale
1988 Republican Red = Bush Blue = Dukakis
1992 Republican Blue = Bush Red = Clinton
1996 Democratic Red = Clinton Blue = Dole
2000 Democratic Blue = Gore Red = Bush
2004 Republican Red = Bush Blue = Kerry

Based on this pattern, the Obama and the Democrats should be red as the challengers and the Republicans should be blue this year as the incumbent color. However, since 2000 the identifications based upon color have increasingly been part of the popular culture. In 2004 the colors worked out as expected by those who identified them by party as opposed to following the above schedule. By this year the colors have become so entrenched with their party identities that there could be no consideration of continuing the previous plan of alternating them.

Obama Continues To Lead in Final Polls

Most of the final polls were in by the time of my round up yesterday, but there have been a handful of additional polls of interest released. Last week some Republicans cited the Zogby poll as evidence that the race is narrowing. The final Zogby/Reuters poll is out showing leads for Obama comparable to the other polls, with Obama leading 54 percent to 43 percent. This is in line with other polls I cited yesterday showing Obama receiving about 53 percent of the vote. There is very little difference in the national numbers, making it hard to believe that McCain could pull an upset.

Among state polls of interest, Public Policy Polling shows Obama still has a shot at sweeping the Big Ten region with Indiana too close to call. Obama leads in the final poll 49 percent ot 48 percent. They also show Obama leading in Nevada 51 percent to 47 percent. Survey USA shows Obama leading 50 percent to 47 percent in Florida. They are tied in North Carolina at 49 percent. Later today I’ll look further at the electoral map.

Landslide Extends to Hart’s Location

Following the landslide victory in Dixville Notch, Barack Obama has repeated with a landslide victory in the second town to announce their vote. In Hart’s Location, Obama won 17 votes, John McCain won 10 votes, and Ron Paul received two write-in votes. Since Hart’s Location reinstated the practice of voting shortly after midnight the Republicans have won every election before tonight. Bob Dole beat Bill Clintin in 1996 and George Bush beat Al Gore and John Kerry in 2000 and 2004. Yet another red area tips blue.

The Beginning of a Landslide in Dixville Notch

Dixville Notch, New Hampshire has not voted Democratic since going for Hubert Humphrey over Richard Nixon in 1968. The votes are now in, with Obama winning by a landslide, beating John McCain 15 to 6. George Bush has won the town in landslides in both 2000 (beating Al Gore 21 to 5) and 2004 (beating John Kerry 19 to 6). Both Obama and McCain won their party’s primaries in Dixville Notch.

Dixville Notch has hardly been a bellwhether town, but perhaps it is meaningful that a rural area, not considered Obama’s strongest type of area, has switched from being strongly Republican in the last two elections to strongly Democratic this year.