Red states and blue states

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Summary of results of the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential elections
States carried by the Republicans in all four elections
States carried by the Republicans in three of the four elections
States carried by each party twice in the four elections
States carried by the Democrats in three of the four elections
States carried by the Democrats in all four elections Red state, blue state.svg
Summary of results of the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential elections
  States carried by the Republicans in all four elections
  States carried by the Republicans in three of the four elections
  States carried by each party twice in the four elections
  States carried by the Democrats in three of the four elections
  States carried by the Democrats in all four elections
116th Congress Senate party membership by state showing Vermont and Maine one independent senator each, Bernie Sanders and Angus King, respectively 116th United States Congress Senators.svg
116th Congress Senate party membership by state showing Vermont and Maine one independent senator each, Bernie Sanders and Angus King, respectively

Since the 2000 United States presidential election, red states and blue states have referred to states of the United States whose voters predominantly choose either the Republican Party (red) or Democratic Party (blue) presidential candidates. [1] Since then, the use of the term has been expanded to differentiate between states being perceived as liberal and those perceived as conservative.[ not verified in body ] Examining patterns within states reveals that the reversal of the two parties' geographic bases has happened at the state level, but it is more complicated locally, with urban/rural divides associated with many of the largest changes. [2] [3]

2000 United States presidential election 54th quadrennial presidential election in the United States

The 2000 United States presidential election was the 54th quadrennial presidential election held in the United States. It was held on Tuesday, November 7, 2000. Republican candidate George W. Bush, the Governor of Texas and the eldest son of the 41st President George H. W. Bush, won the election by defeating Democratic nominee Al Gore, the incumbent vice president. It was the fourth of five presidential elections in which the winning candidate lost the popular vote, and is considered one of the closest elections in US history.

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or simply America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Contents

All states contain both liberal and conservative voters (i.e. they are "purple") and only appear blue/red on the electoral map because of the winner-take-all system used by most states in the Electoral College. [4] [5] However, the perception of some states as "blue" and some as "red" was reinforced by a degree of partisan stability from election to election—from the 2000 election to the 2004 election, only three states changed "color" and as of 2016 fully 38 out of 50 states have voted for the same party in every presidential election since the red/blue terminology was popularized in 2000.

2004 United States presidential election 55th quadrennial presidential election in the United States

The 2004 United States presidential election was the 55th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Incumbent Republican President George W. Bush defeated Democratic nominee John Kerry, a United States Senator from Massachusetts.

2016 United States presidential election 58th election of President of the United States

The 2016 United States presidential election was the 58th quadrennial American presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. The Republican ticket of businessman Donald Trump and Indiana Governor Mike Pence defeated the Democratic ticket of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator from Virginia Tim Kaine, despite losing the popular vote. Trump took office as the 45th president, and Pence as the 48th vice president, on January 20, 2017.

Color representation swap from original meaning

The choice of colors reverses a long-standing convention of political colors whereby red symbols (such as the red flag or red star) are associated with left-wing politics and right-wing movements often choose blue as a contrasting color. [6] Indeed, until the 1980s Democrats were often represented by red and Republicans by blue. [1] According to The Washington Post , the terms were coined by journalist Tim Russert during his televised coverage of the 2000 presidential election. [7] That was not the first election during which the news media used colored maps to depict voter preferences in the various states, but it was the first time a standard color scheme took hold; the colors were often reversed or different colors used before the 2000 election.

Red flag (politics) Symbol of Socialism and left-wing politics

In politics, a red flag is predominantly a symbol of socialism, communism, Marxism, trade unions, left-wing politics, and historically of anarchism; it has been associated with left-wing politics since the French Revolution (1789–99). Socialists adopted the symbol during the Revolutions of 1848 and it became a symbol of Communism as a result of its use by the Paris Commune of 1871. The flags of several communist states, including China, Vietnam and the Soviet Union, are explicitly based on the original red flag. The red flag is also used as a symbol by some democratic socialists and social democrats, for example the League of Social Democrats of Hong Kong, French Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party of Germany. The Labour Party in Britain used it until the late 1980s. It was the inspiration for the socialist anthem, The Red Flag.

Red star symbol; often associated with communist ideology

A red star, five-pointed and filled, is an important symbol often associated with communist ideology, particularly in combination with the hammer and sickle. It has been widely used in flags, state emblems, monuments, ornaments, and logos. Red Star is also Alexander Bogdanov's 1908 science fiction novel about a communist society on Mars.

Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy. It typically involves a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished.

Origins of the color scheme

The colors red and blue also feature on the United States flag. Traditional political mapmakers, at least throughout the 20th century, have used blue to represent the modern-day Republicans, as well as the earlier Federalist Party. This may have been a holdover from the Civil War, during which the predominantly Republican north was considered "blue." [8] However, at that time, a maker of widely-sold maps accompanied them with blue pencils in order to mark Confederate force movements, while red was for the union. [9]

Flag of the United States National flag

The flag of the United States of America, often referred to as the American flag or U.S. flag, is the national flag of the United States. It consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows, where rows of six stars alternate with rows of five stars. The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 states of the United States of America, and the 13 stripes represent the thirteen British colonies that declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and became the first states in the U.S. Nicknames for the flag include the Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, and the Star-Spangled Banner.

Federalist Party First political party in the United States

The Federalist Party, referred to as the Pro-Administration party until the 3rd United States Congress as opposed to their opponents in the Anti-Administration party, was the first American political party. It existed from the early 1790s to the 1820s, with their last presidential candidate being fielded in 1816. They appealed to business and to conservatives who favored banks, national over state government, manufacturing, and preferred Britain and opposed the French Revolution.

American Civil War Internal war in the U.S. over slavery

The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North, which also included some geographically western and southern states, proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights in order to uphold slavery.

Even earlier, in the 1888 presidential election, Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison used maps that coded blue for the Republicans, the color perceived to represent the Union and "Lincoln's Party", and red for the Democrats. [10] The parties themselves had no official colors, with candidates variously using either or both of the national color palette of red and blue (white being unsuitable for printed materials).

1888 United States presidential election Election of 1888

The 1888 United States presidential election was the 26th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 6, 1888. Republican nominee Benjamin Harrison, a former Senator from Indiana, defeated incumbent Democratic President Grover Cleveland of New York. It was the third of five U.S. presidential elections in which the winner did not win a plurality of the national popular vote.

Grover Cleveland 22nd and 24th president of the United States

Stephen Grover Cleveland was an American politician and lawyer who was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States, the only president in American history to serve two non-consecutive terms in office. He won the popular vote for three presidential elections—in 1884, 1888, and 1892—and was one of two Democrats to be elected president during the era of Republican political domination dating from 1861 to 1933.

Benjamin Harrison 23rd President of the United States

Benjamin Harrison was an American politician and lawyer who served as the 23rd president of the United States from 1889 to 1893. He was a grandson of the ninth president, William Henry Harrison, creating the only grandfather–grandson duo to have held the office. He was also a great-grandson of Benjamin Harrison V, a founding father who signed the United States Declaration of Independence. Before ascending to the presidency, Harrison had established himself as a prominent local attorney, Presbyterian church leader, and politician in Indianapolis, Indiana. During the American Civil War, he served in the Union Army as a colonel, and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a brevet brigadier general of volunteers in 1865. Harrison unsuccessfully ran for governor of Indiana in 1876. The Indiana General Assembly elected Harrison to a six-year term in the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1881 to 1887.

There was one historical use, associated with boss rule, of blue for Democrats and red for Republicans: in the late 19th century and early 20th century, Texas county election boards used color-coding to help Spanish speakers and illiterates identify the parties; [11] however, this system was not applied consistently in Texas and was not replicated in any other state. In 1908, The New York Times printed a special color map, using blue for Democrats and yellow for Republicans, to detail Theodore Roosevelt's 1904 electoral victory. [12] That same year, a color supplement included with a July issue of the Washington Post used red for Republican-leaning states, blue for Democratic-leaning states, yellow for "doubtful" states and green for territories, which had no presidential vote. [13]

Political boss person who controls a unit of a political party, although he/she may not hold political office

In politics, a boss is a person who controls a unit of a political party, although they may not necessarily hold political office. Numerous officeholders in that unit are subordinate to the single boss in party affairs. Each party in the same ward or city may have its own boss; that is, the Republican boss of Ward 7 controls Republican politics, while the Democratic boss controls the Democratic party there. Reformers sometimes allege that political bosses are likely guilty of corruption. Bosses may base their power on the support of numerous voters. When the party wins, they typically control appointments in their unit, and have a voice at the higher levels. They do not necessarily hold public office themselves; most historical bosses did not, at least during the times of their greatest influence.

Texas State in the United States

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by area and population. Located in the South Central region, Texas shares borders with the states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

Literacy ability to read for knowledge, write coherently, and think critically about the written word; ability to read, write, and use arithmetic

Literacy is traditionally defined by dictionaries as the ability to read and write, although broader interpretations insist that any particular instance of reading and writing is always taking place in a specific context, as the proliferation of concepts like "conventional or basic literacy, functional literacy, digital literacy, media literacy, legal literacy, computer literacy, medical literacy and information literacy" suggest. The general consensus among researchers that literacy always includes social and cultural elements is reflected by UNESCO's inclusion of numbers, images, digital media, cultural consciousness, and other means of understanding, communicating, gaining useful knowledge, problem-solving, and using the dominant symbol systems of a culture in its definition of literacy. The concept of literacy is expanding across OECD countries to include skills to access knowledge through technology and ability to assess complex contexts.

Contemporary use

The advent of color television prompted television news reporters to rely on color-coded electoral maps, though sources conflict as to the conventions they followed. One source claims that in the six elections prior to 2000 every Democrat but one had been coded red. It further claims that from 1976 to 2004 in an attempt to avoid favoritism in color-coding the broadcast networks standardized on the convention of alternating every four years between blue and red the color used for the incumbent party. [13] [14]

According to another source, in 1976, John Chancellor, the anchorman for NBC Nightly News , asked his network's engineers to construct a large illuminated map of the United States. The map was placed in the network's election-night news studio. If Jimmy Carter, the Democratic candidate that year, won a state, it lit up in red whereas if Gerald Ford, the incumbent Republican President, carried a state, it was in blue. [1] The feature proved to be so popular that, four years later, all three major television networks used colors to designate the states won by the presidential candidates, though not all using the same color scheme. NBC continued its color scheme (blue for Republicans) until 1996. [1] NBC newsman David Brinkley famously referred to the 1980 election map outcome showing Republican Ronald Reagan's 44-state landslide as resembling a "suburban swimming pool." [15]

Since the 1984 election, CBS has used the opposite scheme: blue for Democrats, red for Republicans. ABC used yellow for Republicans and blue for Democrats in 1976, then red for Republicans and blue for Democrats in 1980 and 1984, and 1988. In 1980, when John Anderson ran a relatively high-profile campaign as an independent candidate, at least one network provisionally indicated that they would use yellow if he were to win a state. Similarly, at least one network would have used yellow to indicate a state won by Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996, though neither of them did claim any states in any of these years.

By 1996, color schemes were relatively mixed, as CNN, CBS, ABC, and The New York Times referred to Democratic states with the color blue and Republican ones as red, while Time and The Washington Post used an opposite scheme. [16] [17] [18] NBC used the color blue for the incumbent party, which is why the Democrats were represented by blue in 2000.

In the days following the 2000 election, whose outcome was unclear for some time after election day, major media outlets began conforming to the same color scheme because the electoral map was continually in view, and conformity made for easy and instant viewer comprehension. On Election Night that year, there was no coordinated effort to code Democratic states blue and Republican states red; the association gradually emerged. Partly as a result of this eventual and near-universal color-coding, the terms "red states" and "blue states" entered popular use in the weeks following the 2000 presidential election. After the results were final, journalists stuck with the color scheme, as The Atlantic's December 2001 cover story by David Brooks entitled, "One Nation, Slightly Divisible", illustrated. [19]

Thus, red and blue became fixed in the media and in many people's minds, despite the fact that no official color choices had been made by the parties. [20] Some Republicans argue the GOP should retain its historic link with blue, since most center-right parties worldwide are associated with blue. On March 14, 2014, the California Republican Party officially rejected red and adopted blue as its color. Archie Tse, The New York Times graphics editor who made the choice when the Times published its first color presidential election map in 2000, provided a nonpolitical rationale, explaining that "Both 'Republican' and 'red' start with the letter 'R.'" [21]

Map interpretation

The blue and red state color scheme when applied for U.S. state legislative upper house majorities as of 2018 (Nebraska, in yellow, has a nonpartisan unicameral legislature) Map of USA by state upperhouse.svg
The blue and red state color scheme when applied for U.S. state legislative upper house majorities as of 2018 (Nebraska, in yellow, has a nonpartisan unicameral legislature)

There are several problems in creating and interpreting election maps. Popular vote data is necessarily aggregated at several levels, such as counties and states, which are then colored to show election results. Maps of this type are called choropleth maps, which have several well-known problems that can result in interpretation bias. One problem arises when areal units differ in size and significance, as is the case with election maps. These maps give extra visual weight to larger areal units, whether by county or state. This problem is compounded in that the units are not equally significant. A large county or state in area may have fewer voters than a small one in area, for example. Some maps attempt to account for this by using cartogram methods, but the resulting distortion can make such maps difficult to read. [22] [23] Another problem relates to data classification. Election maps often use a two-class color scheme (red and blue), which results in a map that is easy to read but is highly generalized. Some maps use more classes, such as shades of red and blue to indicate the degree of election victory. These maps provide a more detailed picture, but have various problems associated with classification of data. The cartographer must choose how many classes to use and how to break the data into those classes. While there are various techniques available, the choice is essentially arbitrary. The look of a map can vary significantly depending on the classification choices. The choices of color and shading likewise affect the map's appearance. Further, all election maps are subject to the interpretation error known as the ecological fallacy. [24]

Finally, there are problems associated with human perception. [25] Large areas of color appear more saturated than small areas of the same color. [25] A juxtaposition of differing colors and shades can result in contrast misperceptions. For example, due to the simultaneous contrast effect, the Bezold effect, and other factors, an area shaded light red surrounded by areas shaded dark red will appear even lighter. Differing shades of red and blue compound this effect. [26]

Cartographers have traditionally limited the number of classes so that it is always clear which class a color shade represents. Some election maps, however, have broken this tradition by simply coloring each areal unit with a red-blue mixture linked to voting ratio data—resulting in an "unclassified choropleth map". These "purple maps" are useful for showing the highly mixed nature of voting, but are extremely difficult to interpret in detail. The lack of clear classes make these purple maps highly prone to the problems of color perception described above. However, there are pros and cons to both classified and unclassified choropleth maps. Each tend to bring out some patterns while obscuring others. [26] All these points should be taken into account when looking at election maps.

Critiques

The paradigm has come under criticism on a number of fronts. Many argue that assigning partisanship to states is only really useful as it pertains to the Electoral College, primarily a winner-take-all system of elections (with the exceptions of Nebraska and Maine).

The Democratic and Republican parties within a particular state may have a platform that departs from that of the national party, sometimes leading that state to favor one party in state and local elections and the other in Presidential elections. This is most evident in the Southern United States, where the state Democratic Party organizations tend to be more conservative than the national party, especially on social issues. Likewise, Republicans have elected a number of statewide officeholders in states that are solidly Democratic at the presidential level, such as New York, Illinois, Hawaii, and Vermont.

The United States presidential election in Arkansas, 2004 as well as the one in West Virginia in 2004 were won by Republican George W. Bush, but Democrats at the time held all four U.S. Senate seats and a majority of elected executive officeholders in those states. Similarly, the United States presidential election in Tennessee, 2004 went to Bush in both 2000 and 2004, but going into 2004, its governor was a Democrat and both chambers of the state legislature were controlled by Democrats as well. The converse can also be true, as in the case of the United States presidential election in Maine, 2004, which had two Republican U.S. Senators, but the states were won by Democrat John Kerry. Likewise, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Hawaii all voted in wide margins for Democrat Kerry, but all had Republican governors at the time.

In his address before the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama spoke on the issue of blue states and red states, saying: "The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into red states and blue states — red states for Republicans, and blue states for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach Little League in the blue states and have gay friends in the red states. … We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America." [27]

In April 2008, Republican presidential nominee John McCain predicted that the 2008 presidential election would not follow the red state/blue state pattern, saying, "I'm not sure that the old red state, blue state scenario that prevailed for the last several elections works. I think most of these states that we have either red or blue are going to be up for grabs." [28] Arguably, this eventually proved to be somewhat true, but not in McCain's favor as Obama won three "red" states that had not voted Democratic in many years, namely Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana along with a part of deep red Nebraska, via the state's (much less conservative as a whole) second congressional district. Obama also came close to winning Missouri, losing it by only a 0.2% margin. Notably, however, the only deviations from the preexisting red-blue paradigm were all in Obama's favor. In recent years, Nebraskans voted for Republican candidates.

Purple states

2016 United States presidential election results by county, on a color spectrum from Democratic blue to Republican red. 2016 Presidential Election by County (Red-Blue-Purple View).svg
2016 United States presidential election results by county, on a color spectrum from Democratic blue to Republican red.

A purple state refers to a swing state where both Democratic and Republican candidates receive strong support without an overwhelming majority of support for either party. Purple states are also often referred to as battleground states.

The demographic and political applications of the terms have led to a temptation to presume this arbitrary classification is a clear-cut and fundamental cultural division. Given the general nature and common perception of the two parties, "red state" implies a conservative region or a more conservative American, and "blue state" implies a more liberal region or a more liberal American. But the distinction between the two groups of states is less simplistic. The analysis that suggests political, cultural and demographic differences between the states is more accurate when applied to smaller geographical areas.

Cartogram of the United States showing each county with a size proportional to its population as the colors reflect the 2004 presidential election results Cartlinearlarge.png
Cartogram of the United States showing each county with a size proportional to its population as the colors reflect the 2004 presidential election results

Traditionally, the practice of designating a U.S. state as "red" or "blue" is based on the "winner-take-all" system employed for presidential elections by 48 of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Electoral law in Maine and Nebraska makes it possible for those states to split their electoral votes.

Despite the prevalent "winner-take-all" practice, the minority always gets a sizable vote. While the red/blue paradigm encourages hardening into ideological camps, political parties, candidates in those parties and individuals members of those parties have a variety of positions and outlooks—nearly every town, city and patch of farmland in the country is "purple", a mix of neighbors, friends and family, each of whose own mixed political preferences tip the scale to vote for one side or the other in a contest. Individually and collectively, they are not reducible to red or blue. [30]

An emerging area of science that includes network theory, complexity science and big data is changing the way we see and understand complex systems and massive amounts of information by allowing us to see and analyze massive detail. One example is Mark Newman's election results maps, [29] which change from a red/blue paradigm to one of shades of purple. [30]

All states were consistent in voting for George W. Bush or his Democratic Party opponent in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, except for three, namely New Mexico (Al Gore in 2000 and Bush in 2004); Iowa (Gore in 2000 and Bush in 2004); and New Hampshire (Bush in 2000 and Kerry in 2004). The 2004 election showed two of these three states to be true to the presidential preferences of their respective regions, creating a greater regional separation; thus, an argument that the country was more divided from the 2000 election. All three of those states were very close in both elections. In 2008, Obama carried Iowa and New Hampshire by more than nine percentage points, and New Mexico by double digits.

During the Bush administration, the red-blue map was criticized by some[ citation needed ] for exaggerating the perceived support for President Bush. In the 2000 election, Bush received a smaller share of the popular vote than Al Gore, and four years later defeated John Kerry in this count by less than two and a half percentage points. However, because of the large geographical size of many states in the Central and Southern United States, the color-coded map appeared to show a huge tide of support for Bush and the Republicans with thin outliers of Democratic support on the coasts and near the Great Lakes. [31]

In reality, many of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain states which voted for Bush are relatively sparsely populated (Nebraska, for instance, has a population similar to the island of Manhattan). While the "blue states" represented a comparatively small geographic area, they contained large populations, which ended up making President Bush's national level of support slimmer than the red–blue map would seem to indicate. Various different maps, such as ones which coded states based on the strength of their support for one candidate or another, ones which gave results based on county, or ones which displayed states according to the size of their population, were proposed as correctives to this perceived flaw.

Polarization

Cartogram of Electoral College results (votes as of 2008) of four past Presidential elections (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008)
States carried by the Republican in all four elections
States carried by the Republican in three of the four elections
States carried by each party twice in the four elections
States carried by the Democrat in three of the four elections
States carried by the Democrat in all four elections Cartogram 2008 red blue.png
Cartogram of Electoral College results (votes as of 2008) of four past Presidential elections (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008)
  States carried by the Republican in all four elections
  States carried by the Republican in three of the four elections
  States carried by each party twice in the four elections
  States carried by the Democrat in three of the four elections
  States carried by the Democrat in all four elections

Feelings of cultural and political polarization between red and blue states, which have gained increased media attention since the 2004 election, have led to increased mutual feelings of alienation and enmity. [32] The polarization has been present for only three close elections (2000, 2004 and 2016). In the 1996 election, 31 U.S. states were "blue" (i.e. they voted for Democrat Bill Clinton) and 19 "red" (i.e. they voted for Republican Bob Dole), though at the time the current color scheme was not as universal as today). One trend that has been true for several election cycles is that states that vote Republican tend to be more rural and more sparsely populated (thus having fewer electoral votes) than states that vote Democratic.

Polarization is more evident on a county scale with the growing percentage of the U.S. population living in "landslide counties", counties where the popular vote margin between the Democratic and Republican candidate is 20 percentage points or greater. [33] [34] [35] In 1976, only 27 percent of U.S. voters lived in "landslide counties", which increased to 39 percent by 1992. [36] [37] Nearly half of U.S. voters resided in counties that voted for Bush or Kerry by 20 percentage points or more in 2004. [38] In 2008, 48 percent of U.S. voters lived in such counties, which increased further to 50 percent in 2012 and to 61 percent in 2016. [36] [37]

Demographics

Although the Electoral College determines the Presidential election, a more precise measure of how the country actually voted may be better represented by either a county-by-county or a district-by-district map. By breaking the map down into smaller units (including many "blue counties" lying next to "red counties"), these maps tend to display many states with a purplish hue, thus demonstrating that an ostensibly "blue" or "red" state may, in fact, be closely divided. Note that election maps of all kinds are subject to errors of interpretation.

Rural/urban

These county-by-county and district-by-district maps reveal that the true nature of the divide is between urban areas/inner suburbs and suburbs/rural areas. For example, in the 2008 elections, even in "solidly blue" states, the majority of voters in most rural counties voted for Republican John McCain (good examples would be Minnesota, New York, New Jersey and Maryland), with some exceptions.

In "solidly red" states, a majority of voters in most urban counties voted for Democrat Barack Obama; good examples for this would be Dallas County, Texas and Fulton County, Georgia (the homes of major U.S. cities Dallas and Atlanta, respectively). Both provided Obama with double-digit margins of victory over McCain. An even more detailed precinct-by-precinct breakdown demonstrates that in many cases, large cities voted for Obama, but their suburbs were divided.

Red states and blue states have several demographic differences from each other. The association between colors and demographics was notably made in a column by Mike Barnicle [ citation needed ], and reinforced in a controversial response from Paul Begala [ citation needed ], though the association between demographics and voting patterns was well known before that.

Socioeconomics

In the 2008 elections, both parties received at least 40% from all sizable socioeconomic demographics, except that McCain (Republican) received 37% from voters earning $15,000–$30,000, and 25% from voters earning under $15,000, according to exit polling. In 2008, college graduates were split equally; those with postgraduate degrees voted for Obama by an 18% margin. By household income, Obama got a majority of households with less than $50,000 in annual income.

McCain got a slight majority (52% to 47%) of households consisting of married couples; Obama led almost 2–1 (65% to 33%) among unmarried voters. McCain held the more suburban and rural areas of both the red and blue states, while Obama received the large majority of the urban city areas in all the states. Independent candidate Ralph Nader did not win any electoral college votes, yet he received 2% of the vote of voters from high-income households and voters with graduate degrees.

Rate of union membership

Age, gender, marital status and religion

As a group, young adults under age 40 sided with Obama. More married men voted for McCain, but more single men voted for Obama. Generally, the same held true for married versus single women, but a higher percentage of women overall voted for Obama than for McCain. Catholic and Protestant Christians were more likely to vote for McCain than for Obama, whereas voters of other faiths, as well as secular atheist and agnostic voters, predominantly favored Obama.[ citation needed ] White, middle-aged, Christian, married males made up McCain's largest constituency.

2016 exit polls

Demographic Household income
Under $30k$30k–$50k$50k–$100k$100k–$200k$200k–$250k$250k or more
Trump41%42%50%48%49%48%
Clinton53%51%46%47%48%46%
DemographicAge  Marital status   Sexual orientation
18-2930-4445-6465 and overMarriedUnmarried LGBT Non-LGBT
Trump37%42%53%53%53%38%14%48%
Clinton55%50%44%45%43%55%78%47%
DemographicSex  Educational attainment
MaleFemaleHigh school or lessSome CollegeCollege graduatePostgraduate
Trump53%41%51%52%45%37%
Clinton42%54%45%43%49%58%
Demographic Vote by race   Religion
WhiteNative AmericanBlackHispanicAsianOther Protestant or
other Christian
Catholic Jewish Something else None
Trump58%48%8%29%29%37%58%52%24%29%26%
Clinton37%46%88%65%65%56%39%45%71%62%68%

Source: NYT exit polls: 24,537 surveyed [39]

DemographicVote by sex and marital status
Married menUnmarried menMarried womenUnmarried women
Trump57%44%47%32%
Clinton39%46%49%63%
Demographic Vote by race and sex
White menWhite womenBlack menBlack womenLatino menLatino womenOthers
Trump62%52%13%4%32%25%31%
Clinton31%43%82%94%63%69%61%
Demographic Vote by race and age
Whites
18-29
Whites
30-44
Whites
45-64
Whites
65 and older
Blacks
18-29
Blacks
30-44
Blacks
45-64
Blacks
65 and older
Hispanics
18-29
Hispanics
30-44
Hispanics
45-64
Hispanics
65 and older
All others
Trump47%54%62%58%9%7%9%9%26%28%32%25%31%
Clinton43%37%34%39%85%89%90%91%68%65%64%73%61%
Demographic White born-again or evangelical Christians  Religious services attendance frequency
YesNoWeekly or moreMonthlyFew times a yearNever
Trump80%34%55%49%46%30%
Clinton16%60%41%47%48%62%
Demographic Vote by race and education  Area type
Whites with
college degrees
Whites without
college degrees
Nonwhites with
college degrees
Nonwhites without
college degrees
Urban area Suburban area Rural area
Trump48%66%22%20%34%49%61%
Clinton45%29%72%76%60%45%34%
Demographic White voters by sex and education
White women with
college degrees
White men with
college degrees
White women without
college degrees
White men without
college degrees
Nonwhites
total
Trump44%53%61%71%21%
Clinton51%39%34%23%74%

Source: CNN exit polls: 24,558 surveyed [40]

Table of presidential elections by states since 1972

  Republican win over 5%  Republican win under 5%  Democratic win over 5%  Democratic win under 5%   Electoral college winner

Year 1972 1976 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012 2016
US Democratic Party Logo.svg Democratic candidate George McGovern Jimmy Carter Jimmy Carter Walter Mondale Michael Dukakis Bill Clinton Bill Clinton Al Gore John Kerry Barack Obama Barack Obama Hillary Rodham Clinton
Republican Disc.svg Republican candidate Richard Nixon Gerald Ford Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan George H. W. Bush George H. W. Bush Bob Dole George W. Bush George W. Bush John McCain Mitt Romney Donald Trump
Flag of the United States.svg National popular vote NixonCarterReaganReaganBushClintonClintonGoreBushObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of Alabama.svg  Alabama NixonCarterReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Alaska.svg  Alaska NixonFordReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Arizona.svg  Arizona NixonFordReaganReaganBushBushClintonBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Arkansas.svg  Arkansas NixonCarterReaganReaganBushClintonClintonBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of California.svg  California NixonFordReaganReaganBushClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of Colorado.svg  Colorado NixonFordReaganReaganBushClintonDoleBushBushObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of Connecticut.svg  Connecticut NixonFordReaganReaganBushClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of Delaware.svg  Delaware NixonCarterReaganReaganBushClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of Washington, D.C..svg District of Columbia McGovernCarterCarterMondaleDukakisClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of Florida.svg  Florida NixonCarterReaganReaganBushBushClintonBushBushObamaObamaTrump
Flag of Georgia (U.S. state).svg Georgia NixonCarterCarterReaganBushClintonDoleBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Hawaii.svg  Hawaii NixonCarterCarterReaganDukakisClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of Idaho.svg  Idaho NixonFordReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Illinois.svg  Illinois NixonFordReaganReaganBushClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of Indiana.svg  Indiana NixonFordReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushObamaRomneyTrump
Flag of Iowa.svg  Iowa NixonFordReaganReaganDukakisClintonClintonGoreBushObamaObamaTrump
Flag of Kansas.svg  Kansas NixonFordReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Kentucky.svg  Kentucky NixonCarterReaganReaganBushClintonClintonBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Louisiana.svg  Louisiana NixonCarterReaganReaganBushClintonClintonBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Maine.svg  Maine NixonFordReaganReaganBushClintonClintonGore (at-large and ME-01)KerryObamaObamaH. Clinton (at-large)
Clinton (ME-01)
Gore (ME-02)Trump (ME-02)
Flag of Maryland.svg  Maryland NixonCarterCarterReaganBushClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of Massachusetts.svg  Massachusetts McGovernCarterReaganReaganDukakisClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of Michigan.svg  Michigan NixonFordReaganReaganBushClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaTrump
Flag of Minnesota.svg  Minnesota NixonCarterCarterMondaleDukakisClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of Mississippi.svg  Mississippi NixonCarterReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Missouri.svg  Missouri NixonCarterReaganReaganBushClintonClintonBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Montana.svg  Montana NixonFordReaganReaganBushClintonDoleBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Nebraska.svg  Nebraska NixonFordReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushMcCain (at-large, NE-01, NE-03)RomneyTrump (at-large, NE-01, NE-03)
Obama (NE-02)Trump (NE-02)
Flag of Nevada.svg  Nevada NixonFordReaganReaganBushClintonClintonBushBushObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of New Hampshire.svg  New Hampshire NixonFordReaganReaganBushClintonClintonBushKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of New Jersey.svg  New Jersey NixonFordReaganReaganBushClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of New Mexico.svg  New Mexico NixonFordReaganReaganBushClintonClintonGoreBushObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of New York.svg  New York NixonCarterReaganReaganDukakisClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of North Carolina.svg  North Carolina NixonCarterReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushObamaRomneyTrump
Flag of North Dakota.svg  North Dakota NixonFordReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Ohio.svg  Ohio NixonCarterReaganReaganBushClintonClintonBushBushObamaObamaTrump
Flag of Oklahoma.svg  Oklahoma NixonFordReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Oregon.svg  Oregon NixonFordReaganReaganDukakisClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of Pennsylvania.svg  Pennsylvania NixonCarterReaganReaganBushClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaTrump
Flag of Rhode Island.svg  Rhode Island NixonCarterCarterReaganDukakisClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of South Carolina.svg  South Carolina NixonCarterReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of South Dakota.svg  South Dakota NixonFordReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Tennessee.svg  Tennessee NixonCarterReaganReaganBushClintonClintonBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Texas.svg  Texas NixonCarterReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Utah.svg  Utah NixonFordReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Vermont.svg  Vermont NixonFordReaganReaganBushClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of Virginia.svg  Virginia NixonFordReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of Washington.svg Washington NixonFordReaganReaganDukakisClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaH. Clinton
Flag of West Virginia.svg  West Virginia NixonCarterCarterReaganDukakisClintonClintonBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump
Flag of Wisconsin.svg  Wisconsin NixonCarterReaganReaganDukakisClintonClintonGoreKerryObamaObamaTrump
Flag of Wyoming.svg  Wyoming NixonFordReaganReaganBushBushDoleBushBushMcCainRomneyTrump

^1 : Split their votes.

Reaction

United States

The "Democratic blue" and "Republican red" color scheme is now part of the lexicon of American journalism.

Neither party national committee has officially accepted these color designations, though informal use by each party is becoming common. Both parties have since adopted logos that use their respective colors (a blue "D" for Democrats [41] and a white "GOP" with a red elephant for Republicans). National conventions for both major parties increasingly feature the parties' respective colors, from the colors emphasized on convention podiums to the color conventioneers can be seen wearing on the delegate floor. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also alluded the color scheme when it launched a national "Red to Blue Program" in 2006. [42]

The scheme has found acceptance and implementation from the U.S. Federal Government as the Federal Election Commission report for the 2004 presidential election uses the red-Republican and blue-Democratic scheme for its electoral map. [43]

International

The choice of colors in this divide may appear counter-intuitive to foreign observers, as in most countries, red is associated with socialist or social democratic parties, while blue is associated with conservative parties. For example, the major center-right conservative parties in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and France all use blue or its shades (whether officially or unofficially) whereas the major socialist or social democratic parties in each country (other than in Canada) are associated with red. If the U.S. followed such a pattern, blue would be used for the Republicans and red for the Democrats. However, the current U.S. scheme has become so ingrained in the American election system that foreign sources who cover U.S. elections, such as the BBC, Der Spiegel and El Mundo follow with the red-Republican, blue-Democratic scheme for U.S. elections. [44] [45] [46]

See also

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Further reading