Why Democrats Are Blue and Republicans Are Red—and Why It’s the Opposite Everywhere Else

Why does red mean conservative and blue mean liberal in America, but in the rest of the world it’s the other way around? Red states and blue states? It hasn’t always been this way. Up until 2004, the standard color scheme for maps used by political operatives in Washington used blue for Republican and red for Democrat. This color scheme was based on the UK’s, blue for the Conservative Party and red for the socialist-leaning Labour Party. Republican blue also hearkened back to the blue uniforms worn by Union soldiers under Republican President, Abraham Lincoln. It was the color of the Federalist Party, from which the Republican Party sprang, so that was the color scheme for the maps used by political insiders. But what about the maps the rest of us saw? Since the Republican and Democratic parties had no official colors, color TV and print publications had to make their own choices about how to represent that map. Although many use the Republican-blue/Democratic-red color scheme favored in Washington, most choices were arbitrary and varied over the years, with Republicans even sometimes appearing yellow. But in the year 2000, chance had it that nearly all major networks used blue for Democrats and red for Republicans, as did the New York Times, where a top graphics editor, Archie Tay, says that the choice was made because red begins with “R” and Republican begins with “R.” It was this 2000 election color scheme that finally stuck in the public consciousness. The election was intensely divisive and dragged out long past Election Day, so it received weeks of coverage in which Bush was red and Gore was blue. By the next election cycle, the Democratic and Republican parties themselves had adopted these colors in their visual branding and there was no turning back. But what about the rest of the world? In the UK, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, and Taiwan, to name just a few, conservative parties are blue and liberal parties are red. The reason has less to do with blue and more to do with red – which has a long-standing association with protests and revolution. For a long time, red flags have been used as a fight signal. Medieval European fighter ships, for example, raised red streamer flags to signal a fight to the death. The red flag continued to be used similarly throughout Europe until the French Revolution. But after the radical Jacobins rose up under the red flags, the color solidified as an international symbol of uprising. Mexicans adopted it in the Alamo, Garibaldi in Italy. Soon workers began to use it as a symbol of their power to revolt. The second French Revolution in the Paris Commune flew red flags and by the end of the 19th century, the color had been adopted by communists across Europe. So by 1905, when the British Labour Party formed, red was the obvious choice for liberal branding. So how about blue? The UK’s Conservative Party had been using the national colours of red, white, and blue, but by the 30s, red labour had become its primary political opposition. So the Conservative Party dropped red and redefined itself in contrast to labour. Many of the other center-right parties around the world simply modeled their look after the UK’s. There’s also a second group of blue conservative parties: the ones that use light blues, azure, or cyan, like the Forza Italia in Italy, the Partido Popular in Spain, and the Österreichische Volkspartei in Austria. These parties have their roots in Catholicism, and they chose blue because that’s the colour associated with the Virgin Mary in Christian iconography – which, by the way, is why up until the 1940s, little girls were dressed in blue and little boys were dressed in pink, because it was seen as a boyish alternative of the strong and manly red. The point is these things change, so don’t rule out some new party colors in 2028.

Maurice Vega

64 Responses

  1. I don't think that's its "Liberals" that are red. Its the fact that left-wing parties are red. We have the Liberal Democrats in Britain and they're yellow!

  2. Very interesting! One correction: "Labour" parties are not "liberal". Another: In Canada, the Conservatives use blue, the Liberals red, and the socialist New Democrats use … orange.

  3. If you sit there and dwell on something you start to see things that don't matter and come to silly conclusions. How does this even matter?

  4. This is completely wrong. The democRAT/communist mainstream propaganda media seized on the color scheme because, they didn't want to be openly & publically associated with communism, which is what they actually are.

  5. who here came here entirely to scream at them for putting Carvil in conservative red without reading the title

  6. Democrats are blue because they're depressed and boring. Republicans are red because they help bring life back in the country.

  7. This is an awfully researched video, I have the impression that the video producers simply wanted to get the video done and over with without any quality inspection having taken place:

    (2:15) 1. The CSU/CSU in Germany (German conservatives) has always been shown in black, not blue, so the statement in the video is flat-out wrong. Blue is the color of the right-wing to far-right populist AfD. Same goes for the Austrian ÖVP – even though Sebastian Kurz temporarily rebranded the party as "Liste Sebastian Kurz" and took the color light-blue in his campaign, the ÖVP is shown as black in pretty much every poll, while the actual blue party there is Heinz-Christian Strache's FPÖ (right-wing populists)
    (3:35) 2. The PiS party on Poland is certainly not center-right, it's right-wing (a simple look at the WIkipedia article would have sufficed, but you guys don't seem to care about factual accuracy), nationalconservative / right-wing populist. The center-right liberal-conservative party is called PO and shown in orange. You can't generalize like that only because it fits your stupid assumption that conservative parties are generally shown in blue

    Please do more research next time. I wish I could dislike this video 10 times for appearing to be an informative video but including mistakes like that

  8. I suspect media liberals in 2000 did not want to refer to the Democratic Party as Reds. Whatever. We also are confused about neo-liberals, classical liberals, conservatives, and working class labels. True liberals are anti-statist.

  9. Are Liberals Leftists?
    Depending on the country in question. Liberals in the USA are Leftists. Proof? "Demolish ICE", "Open borders", "Sanctuary Cities", "Openly Socialist Ocasio-Cortez wins 14th District NYC Primary", "Single Payer Healthcare", "Bernie Sanders", "Barack OBama", "Minimum Wage", "Hate for Law Enforcement", "Dislike and/or Hate for the Military", "Redistribution of Wealth", "Man-made Global Warming" "Abortion on Demand", "Gay Marriage" "Trans-girls in Girls Bathrooms" etc..

  10. Progressive propaganda as the left tries dishonestly to distance itself from communism and fascism.

  11. Could never be democrat, they're attempting to make myself a "provobial victim" always allowing their victims to talk down to myself.
    Could never be a republican, they're always attempting to victimize myself with their victims.
    Being Independent keep myself from their traps.

  12. So why did the parties change the colors?
    You just mentioned why they where opposite before and when they changed, not why.

  13. Conservatives using red simply because Red and Republican starts with the same letter must be the most juvenile reason for an arbitrary political decision I have ever heard. And it makes no real sense… red has always more or less been associated with socialism and communism, leave it to the americans to unnecessarily confuse things.

  14. No matter how many times my bf corrects me I continue to think Democrats are red & now I feel better after watching this, that I'm not just dumb lol thanks

  15. It's no mystery. The leftie media changed it to take away the "commie" connotation of the color red from the "commie" party, the Demorats.

  16. They are talking about conservatives and liberals in the US whereas the listed parties in the other mentioned countries ale plain leftist.

    Just live with it, the Democratic party is liberal however far from being leftist.

  17. Red for labor and socialist movements; blue for "blue blood" and old money. It's so counterintuitive to have red for the right and blue for the left that I always have to stop and think about which color represents which party. Just like with the metric system, we apparently have to be different from the rest of the world.

  18. Because in 2000, out of the fucking blue, the networks began assigning colors to the parties on the electoral map, it never happened before that, they chose red for the repubs because they didn't want any communist connotation attached to their beloved democrats. I was there at the time, I commented on it, everybody commented on it.

  19. They’re all Freemasons. No such thing as Democrat or Republican at that level, they are all part of the same Club! Let’s wake up to this fact people, whether you like the way things are or not.

  20. Because the media wants to distance their socialist tendencies from communists? Pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain.

  21. Republicans are red hot, but dems are chill blue. That's why. And most Americans are Red Hot around the collar. They don't a sorry socialism. They know their world history. The US is not socialist. That's so many people are coming here from other countries. Because their socialist countries SUCK. That's why.
    Dumbass people are saying that the Soviet Union which fell was not socialist. Yeah right, that's why the USSR stands for Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic.
    It was bad tho. I felt sorry for their people. Right before the Soviet Union fell, the people there were hungry and lining for blocks at their markets just to buy a loaf of bread. But the market had long empty shelves with only a very few loaves left and the bread cost a lot of money. It was hyperinflation. Socialism sucks bigtime. It always fails. And we don't want that to happen in the USA.

  22. Another curious thing, is that you call liberals, what the rest of the world calls socialists. We call liberals what you call libertarians. I hate socialism, and I'm liberal (libertarian) so I hate hearing leftist US people calling themselves liberals. I dunno where you got that from.

  23. In the US among progressives Red is still associated with the Left outside the two parties. Light or Sky Blue has also become associated with Progressives. The DSA uses Red and they align with Bernie Sanders Democrats. The Progressives have started using a Light Blue almost Sky blue to contrast with the Navy Blue of the Democrats. Instead of the Donkey progressives have been using a Bird. So maybe Red and Sky Blue as the Progressive colors in the future. If a Progressive 3rd party would form it could be Democratic Socialist, Labor, Social Democratic, Progressive, etc. and going forward for maps I'd suggest a purple color shade. Purple is the mix of Blue and Red. Blue- a color of the US, associated with the Union soldiers uniforms, who fought against Slavery, associated with Civil Rights to Modern era Democratic party & the Justice Democrats, Red – a US color, the color of the Radical Republican abolitionists of Abraham Lincoln, the color of Socialism and Labor movements, the color of the DSA organization where many Berniecrats are coming from. 3rd party could be called the Progressive Democracy Party, Progressive Democrats, Progressive Labor Party, or Progressive Justice Party. They could claim the history of the Lincoln Radical Republicans, New Deal Dems, Civil Rights Democrats, the Justice Democrats, and the Socialist parties under Eugene Debbs, without claiming the negative associations of the Republicans and Democrats. So the Bernie Bird and Red and Sky Blue as the colors, and a light Purple or Purple as map color, and then perhaps using light Purple or Purple as the party color if it sticks.

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