Red Blue Divide

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Overview

The "Red Blue Divide" at a surface level is a reference to the customary colors on TV result maps after a Presidential election has been held. Republican wins are commonly depicted in Red, Democratic wins are commonly depicted in Blue. But, the phrase really refers to a deep cultural divide that splits America. The thesis behind the "Red Blue divide" concept is that the even political divisions found in 2000 are driven by the existence of distinct groups of Americans who hold radically different values, live in geographically distict places, and react to news and culture differently, even when superficial comparisons (e.g. both sides of the divide have soccer moms) would suggest that they have much in common.

Ironically, the Red Blue divide is agknowledged by both ends of the political spectrum. Many people on both sides acknowledge that the divide exists and some (especially people on one extreme or the other) embrace their position on one or the other side of the divide. To these people, there is little institutional incentive to muddy the waters and end the divide. In 2004 practical politics is focused on getting out the vote in "purple" areas from the Red or Blue people in those areas, rather than on changing the debate to find common ground and thus change the political environment. Practical politics is about getting your people to the polls, more than it is about changing the hearts and minds of those who already have an opinion.

Discussion of electoral basis of Red-Blue divide

A Caution For Red State, Blue State Analysts

One should be aware of how deeply red state, blue state statistics are intertwined with race. Many negative social statistics in red states are social statistics in which there is a large disparity between white America, and black America.

The states with the highest percentage of their population that are black, as of 2002, in order, are all red states as follows (including multiracial persons who include black as one category):

Mississippi 37.2% Louisiana 33.3% South Carolina 30.3% Georgia 29.2% Maryland 28.9% (NOTE: Not a red state) Alabama 26.6% North Carolina 21.8% Virginia 20.0%

Red state-blue state differences in areas like high school graduation, infant mortality, income, credit ratings and more, reflect to a significant degree a large socio-economically lagging black population in red states. Red states don't deserve a free pass. Every state has an obligation to make life better for all of its citzens, and red states have done a much poorer job of this task than blue states. And, this doesn't mean that the statistics shouldn't be used. But, recognizing that red state-blue state statistics are to a significant extent a result of a persistent racial divide in the United States, and that the socio-economic well being of blacks in blue states also lags significantly, brings some important perspective to what these statistics mean.

The red state, blue state divide is deeply intertwined with an arguably more fundamental problem of racial injustice. There is a natural tendency to look at red state statistics and blame the victims saying: "they are getting what they deserve for the way they run their states." But, if you start to think that, keep in mind that the often GOP and conservative white Democratically controlled governmental policy makers, are frequently not the representatives of the people who bear the brunt of red state policies, who are themselves often represented by black Democrats.

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