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Study Notes

Purple State

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

There are two different definitions of Purple State. In the first instance is can refer to those states who will not solidly vote for one party in presidential elections, and secondly it can be used to highlight the margin of support between the two parties in counties within states.

There are some states that will consistently vote for one party in presidential elections, these can be known as safe states, or more commonly red or blue states. Blue states will vote for the Democrats, and red states for the Republicans. There are certain characteristics that will define a blue state and certain ones which will define a red state.

Red America (Republican)
These will tend to be more male than female, have white majorities, be protestant or born again Christians. They tend to be found in the Southern to Mid West US, and many of the people will tend to live in rural areas and be relatively wealthy.

Blue America (Democrat)

These will tend to be more female than male and be a ‘rainbow’ of ethnic groups. With regards to religion, Blue America would tend towards being Catholic, but not always church going. The states tend to be found in the North East, Great Lakes or West Coast. Those who are part of Blue America would generally be less wealthy and live in urban areas.

Purple states will tend to have a mixture of blue and red America, resulting in the different electoral outcomes each time.

The second definition of Purple states is applied to the counties within states, those counties in elections that have a small margin of victory for one party can be referred to as purple. Those counties with huge majorities for one party will be either solidly blue or red. Most counties will be purple in colour, but the winner take all systems in elections tend to obscure the purple element of the states.

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