Mapping red and blue America

TitleWeller's Political Map of the United States : Showing the Plurality Vote of the Presidential Election of 1892, in All States and Counties
CreatorGeorge H. Weller
Dimensions33 × 55 cm
LocationLeventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library
View full Digital Collections record

The terms “red states” and “blue states” refers to the familiar colors that have now become ubiquitous on election maps. Those standard symbols, however, are relatively recent: this map of the 1892 election used red for Democrats and blue for Republicans (brown signified the People's Party, while purple represented the Fusion Party). Even as recently as 2000, the colors red and blue had not yet become strongly associated with the two parties. In fact, red is traditionally the color of the left wing and blue the color of the right, making our “two Americas” opposite-colored from the rest of the world's connotations.

Prepared after the 1892 election, which pitted Republican Benjamin Harrison against Democrat Grover Cleveland for a second time, this map displayed the pluralities or majorities at both the county and state levels. Counties were colored based on the majority of votes while state boundaries were highlighted with the appropriate party color to indicate majorities for the entire state. An extensive table of results gives the margin of victory for each candidate in every county.

Interestingly, this map was seen as enough of a souvenir that it also served as a marketing tool. An illustration just to the right of Florida shows that this map was printed compliments of a Washington, D.C.-based hatter.