Saturday, 2:15 PM
Massachusetts voters can't judge a ballot by its color
By Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
The rest of the country might not understand the political color scheme here in Massachusetts: The ballots with red headers in today's presidential primaries were for Democrats, while the ballots with blue headers were for Republicans.
That meant former governor Mitt Romney, who derided Massachusetts to conservatives as "the bluest state in America,” had his name emblazoned on a blue Republican ballot. Likewise Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had their names on a red ballot.
Most of America paints conservatives a fiery red and liberals a royal blue, a view rooted in the coloring of political maps on television news during presidential elections.
“The coloring of the ballots in Massachusetts far antedates red state and the blue state schemes,” said Brian McNiff, a spokesman for the secretary of state, who estimated that the tradition stretched at least 50 years. “We were printing them that way long before cable television.”
The origin of the red state, blue state political view is difficult to trace, but it took hold during the disputed election in 2000, said David Starkey, who edited a collection of 21 essays in 2007 titled “Living Blue in the Red States.” People spent so much time scrutinizing the red state, blue state maps that it began to view the county solely in those terms, he said.
“We are all much more purple than we want to acknowledge,” said Starkey, an English professor at Santa Barbara City College. “I think purple is good. The fact that Mitt was governor of a liberal state probably shows that he has a little more purple in him than he might want to admit.”
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