Seeing red, feeling blue...or seeing blue and feeling red?
July 16, 2007 8:49 PM   Subscribe

As I understand it, though I can't find a reference for this, media outlets alternate the colours they use for political parties. Sometimes the Republicans are red and sometimes the Democrats are. But this didn't happen in the last election, apparently because the two parties (especially the Republicans) invested themselves deeply into their chosen colour. For 2008 in the U.S. is there any indication that the media will go back to the old way, or further entrench the permanent colours? (FWIW, in Canada the colours have been pretty standardized for a long time it appears.)
posted by Kickstart70 to Law & Government (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Here's a brief history. Started in 2000 apparently. Thanks, I had no idea.
posted by jourman2 at 8:58 PM on July 16, 2007


Here's a New York Times article on the matter.
posted by watsondog at 9:00 PM on July 16, 2007


I would be highly surprised if Dems and Repubs weren't blue and red, respectively, for a long time to come.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:09 PM on July 16, 2007


It's interesting (to this Canadian) that, as you mention, our party colours have long been almost completely standardized. Each party has selected its own colour and media outlets represent that party by that same (or a very) similar colour.

It seems that in the US, by contrast, both parties had historically eschewed a single colour and adopted the flag's red, white and blue in their logos and branding.

For non-observers of Canadian politics, the colours are as follows:
Red - Liberal Party (Liberal Centrist)

Blue - Conservative Party (Conservative)

Orange - New Democratic Party (Social Democratic/Socialist)

Blue - Bloc Quebecois (Quebec sovereignty)

Green - Green Party (Environmantal/Sustainability oriented)

Although the other minor parties do tend to consistently represent themselves with branding focused on one colour or another, their limited media exposure usually leaves them lumped together and represented as grey for the purposes of television graphics, maps, and so forth.

The Bloc's blue is usually represented in the news with a tone either lighter (baby blue) or darker (dark blue) than the Conservatives' royal blue.

The NDP branding used to be more heavily orange, but has lately incorporated green to a considerable extent. Unusually for a party affiliated with the Socialist International (e.g. Britain's Labour Party), and presumably because of the existing associations with either the Liberals or communism, they aren't "red".

The Greens' colour choice is self-explanatory.
These are the colours from the federal level; in each province, colours are generally similar with some quirks as well as the addition of unique provincial-only parties.

I guess you could hypothesize that in the Canadian and present American systems the parties are actively differentiating themselves from one another on the basis of some distinct approach to governance (various ideologies), whereas the pre-2000 American system is a competition between to groups to be all-encompassingly embody America (patriotic values) by evoking nationalism. If only the Democrats could convincingly manifest a political program or agenda coherently distinct from the Republicans to match the permanent colour distinction.
posted by onshi at 10:21 PM on July 16, 2007


Bah. between two groups.
posted by onshi at 10:24 PM on July 16, 2007


Unusually for a party affiliated with the Socialist International (e.g. Britain's Labour Party), and presumably because of the existing associations with either the Liberals or communism, they aren't "red".

The old Liberal Party in Britain was orange at the time. (And that goes all the way back to the Whigs and Tories.)

Anyway, my guess is that red state / blue state is entrenched for the time being.
posted by holgate at 11:18 PM on July 16, 2007


I think the point of making Republican red and Democrat blue was to try to avoid the "communist/socialist" baggage that goes along with the color red. Given that the Democrats tend more towards socialism than the Republicans.

The use of red and blue has a long history, and there's a surprisingly simple reason for using those two particular colors: people who are red-green color blind, or blue-yellow color blind, can still differentiate red from blue. Since 7-10% of men in the US are red-green color blind, that's important.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:19 PM on July 16, 2007


Holgate: at what time?
posted by onshi at 11:39 PM on July 16, 2007


onashi: at the time of the NDP's formation, the Liberals in mainland Britain, then very much a minority party, used orange, and did so until the alliance with the SDP. Hence this.
posted by holgate at 12:22 AM on July 17, 2007


Bizarre really, given that Red is the standard colour for the Left.
posted by A189Nut at 2:45 AM on July 17, 2007


THANK YOU. I always thought Red was the Democrats' color and Blue the Republicans' and am always being corrected. It's nice to know I was, at one time, right...
posted by mmoncur at 4:30 AM on July 17, 2007


Identifying states as "red states" and "blue states" happened after the 2000 election, so the colors will probably stick.

there's a surprisingly simple reason for using those two particular colors:

They're in the American flag. (Which is think is a much more likely explanation than color blindness.)
posted by kirkaracha at 7:59 AM on July 17, 2007


Shh... Kirkaracha, don't stop SCDB when he's making up shit...
posted by klangklangston at 1:47 PM on July 17, 2007


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