Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Our National Color Scheme

Since when did the two major political parties adopt totemic colors? I've often wondered about that, but didn't track down the reason why, nor wrote to the Explainer column at Slate. Luckily, long-time journalist and commentator Joe Scott at The Body Politic provides his own explainer today, and contends that the color map as counting crutch masks the true variability of voter preference:

Here’s why. In 1976, when the presidential electoral map designation came into existence, it followed a rotating color pattern every four years based on which party controlled the White House prior to the November election. Bill Clinton was the “blue” incumbent in 2000 and Bush the “blue” challenger. In 2004, Bush was the “red” incumbent and Kerry the “blue” challenger. But in 2008, with Bush again the “red” incumbent, the next GOP nominee will be blue; conversely, the red map will reflect the Democratic nominee. Confused? It would be wiser if the simplistic U.S. electoral map process was scrapped in the future.

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