"[The] red-blue distinction came about as pure serendipity. During the marathon battles over the recount in the 2000 election, those just happened to be the colors the media were using for the broad swaths of states that went for Bush or Gore. But the colors instantly became a proxy for all the differences in values and lifestyle that seemed to be cleaving the country into warring tribes.
That picture really had its roots in the ’70s, when we all took to using marketing jargon like “upscale,” “yuppie” and “lifestyle” itself to map out our cultural geography, and we suddenly discovered a nation called Middle America sitting in our midst. For the right, it was an occasion to brand liberals with the consumer choices that revealed them for the poseurs they were. Liberals drove a safe but ugly car built by the socialist Swedes. They consumed Chardonnay and Brie, and they followed sports that didn’t require helmets or gasoline.”
- Geoff Nunberg, linguist
Chart via NYT