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July 14 2004 3:00 PM

Red or Blue—Which Are You?

Take the Slate quiz.

Red and blue are states of mind, not actual states. Red and blue aren't absolute predictors of political leanings, either. There are plenty of blue cities in red states, red enclaves in blue states, red-leaning governors of blue states, people who vote Republican but are of a blue state of mind, and so on. It's not as simple as liberal vs. conservative, elite vs. populist, urban vs. rural, religious vs. nonreligious, educated vs. uneducated, rich vs. poor—if it were, the terms "red" and "blue" wouldn't have taken off as the best shorthand for a divided America.

Instead, it's an amorphous condition. To some extent, people are red and blue by choice and by self-definition. (GWB comes to mind.) But the background noise where you live plays a big role—the local news, what your neighbors talk about, how you get from one place to another, the kinds of culinary and artistic options available, what I like to think of as the "cultural soundtrack" that you can hum automatically because it's always on. If you're a blue-stater, you might happen to have learned how often Rush Limbaugh is on the air, but if you're a red-stater, chances are you know it off the top of your head. That instinctual knowledge is what this quiz intends to judge, not how smart you are about the other side. And there are many people who are purple—neither red nor blue, or both red and blue.

Put another way—Bush once said: "To you, it's sushi. To me, it's bait."

And to some people, it's just raw fish.

Click here to take the quiz.

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Correction, July 15, 2004: Question 27 of the quiz originally and incorrectly identified Dr. Laura Schlessinger as a psychologist. Schlessinger's doctorate is in physiology.

Anne E. Kornblut is the senior political correspondent for the Boston Globe.

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