Online, Democratic blue handily defeats Republican Red

When blue and red emerged as the de facto official colors of the Democratic and Republican parties in the wake of the 2000 election, it seemed sensible enough. Red and blue are traditional opposites (or near opposites) in the world of color, and they're both primary colors. Done and done.

From a design standpoint, however, the Republicans made a huge mistake.

You may have noticed that Web sites are often blue. Blue is so common in corporate and online design that there's a quiz that lets you try and differentiate between the various blues of different companies. There are a lot of reasons for this, which Fast Company explored last year. Blue is calm, gender-neutral, conveys authority. Red is more aggressive, inspires action — which is great for a campaign speech, but doesn't really work very well as a design element.

Which means that when you go to a campaign Web site for a Republican, you're a lot more likely to see blue than you are to see red.

We noticed that when visiting the Web site of the Republican National Committee at gop.com. There's a decent amount of red, but there's just as much blue. Using Photoshop, we broke out the design into five groups: Areas of red, areas of the primary blue color, areas of secondary blue, areas that are white, and everything else (the gray slice of the pie graph). For the area immediately visible when you get to the page, the GOP site is about 12 percent red.

GOPcom

Compare that to the website for the Democratic National Committee, at democrats.org.

Dems

It's much more blue than the Republicans' is red — about 30 percent in total. It uses red as you might expect: for buttons and other action items.

It is also largely derived from the look of Obama's 2012 campaign Web site, which we got a screenshot of thanks to the Internet Archive.

Obama

Just a tiny sliver of red, thanks mostly to that Hurricane Isaac relief button.

Mitt Romney's site had a bit more red, but not much.

Romney

Even in the most contested elections of 2014 — the Senate races in a handful of states — both Democrats and Republicans tend to rely on blue for their Web sites.

Arkansas

Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor:

Pryor

Republican challenger Rep. Tom Cotton:

Cotton

North Carolina

Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan:

Hagan

Republican challenger Thom Tillis, who manages to get a decent amount of red on the page:

Tillis

Kentucky

Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell takes a different tack at TeamMitch.com, using a video element, and very little blue:

Mcconnell

Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, uses a lot of green — bold given her interest in separating herself from environmental activists:

Grimes

In some states, like Iowa and Louisiana, candidates eschew red and blue. Iowa Republican Joni Ernst uses a sort of greenish-brown. Democrats Rep. Bruce Braley (Iowa) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.) use purple, which has obvious work-across-the-aisle undertones. (Though in Landrieu's case, it's certainly more likely due to her representing Louisiana.)

NOTA

For the sites that we looked at, about 5 percent of the immediately visible area of Republican pages was red. About 30 percent of Democrats' was blue.

But again, this is about design, not politics. Even George W. Bush, the Republican who helped birth the red=Republican line of thinking, couldn't help but make his reelection site very, very blue.

Bush

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He previously wrote for The Wire, the news blog of The Atlantic magazine. He has contributed to The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, The Daily, and the Huffington Post. Philip is based in New York City.
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