Why Republicans are red and Democrats are blue

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Red states, blue states.

These days, it's such an ingrained part of our political lexicon, that it's easy to believe that's how it has always been. But it does raise the question -- why exactly are Republicans red and Democrats blue?

The short answer -- chance and timing.

This color association is actually relatively very new.

It didn't really become a "thing" until 2000 -- and the election that wouldn't end.

As the race between Al Gore and George Bush stretched on for weeks the nation just kept watching, and day after day network news anchors introduced us all to the intricacies of the electoral math.

In the confusion of Hanging Chads, the network executives came together to standardize the system we know today. It was further established that year when the New York Times and USA Today published their first color coded breakdowns, and sure enough, they followed television's lead.

It wasn't always this way. The color coded map didn't exist until the 70's. Back then you had some networks using yellow and even orange sometimes. In fact, for a while red was usually associated with undecided states.

That may have to do with the Cold War and red being associated with the Soviet Union.

By the 90's the Cold War was over and networks settled on the primary colors represented in the American Flag, but which party was red and which was blue would change from election to election and year to year.

These days, the party colors have become an important part of how we understand elections.

RELATED: 2016 election - voting all over America

33 PHOTOS
Voter turnout at polling places across the country
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Voter turnout at polling places across the country
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 8: Horace Higgins casts his ballot at the Downtown Women's Center on Skid Row in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 8, 2016. (Photo by Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 8: Camila Chavez, 3, plays as her grandmother Alexandrian Barrios, 58, votes at a polling station set-up at Watts Towers Arts Center on November 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 8: Maryjane Medina, 18, a first time voter, walks up to polling booth to cast her vote at a polling station set-up at Watts Towers Arts Center on November 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
A man votes at a polling place at a high school in McLean, Virginia during the US presidential election on November 8, 2016. / AFP / Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - November 8: Voters fill out their ballots at a polling place in Loudon County High School during the 2016 Presidential Elections in Leesburg, Va., USA on November 8 , 2016. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - November 8: Voters enter the polling place in Loudon County High School during the 2016 Presidential Elections in Leesburg, Va., USA on November 8 , 2016. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, VA - NOVEMBER 08: Voters fill out their paper ballots in a polling place on Election Day November 8, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia. Americans across the nation pick their choice for the next president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Voters cast their ballots during voting for the U.S presidential election in Manhasset, New York U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
NEW ALEXANDRIA, PA - NOVEMBER 8: Voters enter the Simpson Voting House, established in 1891, to vote in the presidential election on November 8, 2016 in New Alexandria, Pennsylvania. Americans across the nation make their choice for the next president of the United States today. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
A voter stands with a stroller outside the American Legion Post #469 polling location in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. The Justice Department will deploy 500 personnel to polling stations on Election Day to help protect voters against discrimination and intimidation, down from 2012 as the result of a Supreme Court ruling that gutted part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CONCORD, NH - NOVEMBER 08: Voters fill out their ballots at the Green Street Community Center on November 8, 2016 in Concord, New Hampshire. After a contentious campaign season, Americans go to the polls today to choose the next president of the United States. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
The early morning sun casts the shadow of a voter on a wall as he arrives at a polling location in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. The Justice Department will deploy 500 personnel to polling stations on Election Day to help protect voters against discrimination and intimidation, down from 2012 as the result of a Supreme Court ruling that gutted part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Voters wait in line to cast their ballots at a polling site in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A line of voters stretches down the street as they wait for a polling site to open in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Voters enter a polling place to cast their election ballots Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Democratic U.S. vice presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) casts his ballot at the Hermitage Methodist Home polling station in Richmond, Virginia, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A clerk tabulates ballots at a polling station just after midnight on November 8, 2016 in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, the first voting to take place in the 2016 US presidential election. The US presidential election got underway -- on a small scale -- as seven people in a tiny New Hampshire village cast their ballots at the stroke of midnight. Dixville Notch has had the honor of launching the voting, symbolically, since 1960. Clay Smith was the first of seven people to cast their ballots as Tuesday's long awaited Election Day began. An eighth resident voted by absentee ballot. / AFP / Alice Chiche (Photo credit should read ALICE CHICHE/AFP/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, VA - NOVEMBER 08: Voters wait in-line for casting their ballots outside a polling place on Election Day November 8, 2016 in Alexandria, Virginia. Americans across the nation are picking their choice for the next president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, VA - NOVEMBER 08: Voters wait in-line for casting their ballots outside a polling place on Election Day November 8, 2016 in Alexandria, Virginia. Americans across the nation are picking their choice for the next president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
A dog walks by people voting at the Brooklyn Museum polling station in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on November 8, 2016. With an anxious world watching, Americans began voting Tuesday on whether to send the first female president or a volatile populist tycoon to the White House. The kickoff marks the end to a campaign like no other -- exhausting, often bitter -- as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump presented radically different visions of how to lead the world's greatest power. / AFP / ANGELA WEISS (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
A child sits behind his mom, who is filling out her form at a polling station in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
A man takes a selfie with his child as he waits to vote at a polling station in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
A line of voters stretches around the block while waiting to cast their ballots at a polling site in New York as One World Trade Center stands at left in the background, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
People arrive to a poll station to vote in Arlington, Virginia on November 8, 2016. With an anxious world watching, Americans began voting Tuesday on whether to send the first female president or a volatile populist tycoon to the White House. The kickoff marks the end to a campaign like no other -- exhausting, often bitter -- as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump presented radically different visions of how to lead the world's greatest power. / AFP / Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, VA - NOVEMBER 08: Voters wait in-line for casting their ballots outside a polling place on Election Day November 8, 2016 in Alexandria, Virginia. Americans across the nation are picking their choice for the next president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
A voter casts his ballot in the U.S. election at Su Nueva Lavanderia in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Ballot clerks Cheryl Bourassa (L) and Judy Taylor verify the ballot count before the polls open for the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Woodstock, New Hampshire, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mary Schwalm
Voters line up outside a polling station in Christmas, Florida on November 8, 2016. After an exhausting, wild, bitter, and sometimes sordid campaign, Americans finally began voting Tuesday for a new president: either the billionaire populist Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, seeking to become the first woman to win the White House. / AFP / Gregg Newton (Photo credit should read GREGG NEWTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton steps away from a voting booth after voting at Douglas G. Griffin School November 8, 2016 in Chappaqua, New York. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People voting at Congress Elementary School in the presidential election November 8, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. / AFP / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Former US President Bill Clinton (L) and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (R)vote at Douglas G. Griffin School November 8, 2016 in Chappaqua, New York. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - NOVEMBER 08: An early morning voter casts her vote at the Bishop Leo E. O'Neil Youth Center on November 8, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Voters will choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for president, as well as important races for Congress and Senate. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
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