Watch Smarter

Why Democrats Are Blue and Republicans Are Red

And why it’s the opposite everywhere else.

Watch Smarter is Slate’s series that teaches you to spot hidden tropes in pop culture and beyond. Watch all episodes.

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” haven’t always been that way. In fact, up until 2004, the standard color scheme for maps used by political operatives in Washington used blue for Republican and red for Democrat.

So what happened? And how did we end up with the opposite color scheme than most other countries? Follow the history in this episode of Watch Smarter.