Red Waves and Blue Waves

Political red waves and blue waves

If you paid attention to the U.S. midterm elections over the past several weeks, you probably heard reports of a "red wave" sweeping across the country. Don't worry, it's not some biblical plague (or covid-variant).

In politics, a red wave is a sweeping series of election victories by Republicans. The "red," while ominous, comes from the color that represents U.S. Republicans (blue is for Democrats, hence the blue wave term).

Typically, the waves refer to victories on a national level, such as U.S. Senators and Representatives, that disrupt the political status quo. However, people may also use the terms to describe a run of victories on the state level.

Who coined the red wave and blue wave terms?

It's unclear who coined red wave or blue wave, but the terms gained prominence in October and November 2018 during the midterms of Donald Trump's first presidential term. In previous years, political experts sometimes referred to elections with sweeping results in favor of a specific party as a "wave election," "Republican wave," or "Democrat wave." However, politicians and commentators simplified the terms to red waves and blue waves in the mid-2010s because colors are more fun, amirite?

What causes a red wave or blue wave?

Each election is so contextual it's hard to pinpoint the causes for a red or blue wave. However, they typically depend on voters' concerns in the following areas:

  • Economy
  • Human rights
  • Education
  • Religion
  • Environment
  • Crime
  • National security

Also, another significant factor is voter disapproval of the country's direction when Democrats or Republicans hold power in the White House, Senate, and (or) House of Representatives. The dissatisfaction often leads to a reactionary wave in the opposite direction.

Was there a red wave in 2022?

Unfortunately, for Republicans, the predicted red wave was more of a red wedding.

Ben Shapiro tweet