Associated Press 2008 election map at NBC News headquarters
Red States and Blue States: History of Presidential Electoral Maps
The use of color on maps is a key component in cartographic design. Perhaps the best known colors on a map are the “red states” and “blue states” on a presidential electoral map.
According to GeoLounge, the practice of identifying a political party on a map by color dates back to 1883, when the first map of red and blue political affiliations was produced. And since the 2000 election, the practice has been standardized with red representing Republicans and blue representing Democrats.
The complete historical timeline of all 57 presidential elections can be tracked on 270 to Win. Metrocosm, a unique Web page for current maps and statistical analysis, has created maps showing all of the colors of the early presidential elections.
An exhibit depicting the results of the presidential elections since 1952 is currently displayed in the front windows of the GIS Research and Map Collection (GRMC) on the second floor of Bracken Library. Sixty Years of Red States and Blue States will be on display through Election Day. And maps of the electoral results are available for circulation from the GRMC.