With the adoption of color television in the 1960s (and continuing with increased use of color in newspapers in the 1980s and 1990s) media outlets took advantage of this in their electoral maps on election night. But until the 2000 election, there was no consensus on color schemes between the networks. For example, from 1972 until at least 1992, NBC consistently showed Republican-won states in blue, and Democratic-won states in red. But other networks used other patterns. ABC, in at least two presidential elections during this time, used yellow for one major party and blue for the other. However, in 2000, for the first time ever, all the major broadcast networks and all the cable news outlets utilized the same color scheme: red for Republicans and blue for Democrats.
Third-party candidates rarely win any states, but media outlets are prepared with other arbitrary colors for noteworthy third party showings, such as green for the Green party and white for Reform party.