Why are baby names so different in Republican states?
Six or seven years ago, before I retired from the newspaper racket, I wrote a feature piece on baby-naming trends in America. The more I researched the subject, the more I was fascinated by it.
For example, let’s compare the top ten lists for the decade in which I was born (the 1940s) with the lists for the first decade of this century:
In my time, the most popular boys’ names were, in order: James, Robert, John, William, Richard, David, Charles, Thomas, Michael and Ronald. For girls, they were: Mary, Linda, Barbara, Patricia, Carol, Sandra, Nancy, Sharon, Judith and Susan.
The most popular boys’ names of the 2000s were: Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Matthew, Daniel, Christopher, Andrew, Ethan, Joseph and William. For girls, they were: Emily, Madison, Emma, Olivia, Hannah, Abigail, Isabella, Samantha, Elizabeth and Ashley.
Interestingly, the most popular girl’s name in the whole of American history, Mary, isn’t even in the top 200 among babies these days. And among boys, old favorites like James, John and Robert have noticeably slipped in popularity over the years.
And now I’ve come across a new wrinkle with regard to baby-naming trends. It seems that there are distinct differences in this matter between Republican and Democratic states. And surprisingly, traditional names are more popular in the blue states:
The story is HERE:
Styles of baby names, it seems, are nearly as different in various parts of the country as voting habits. “There is an enormous red state and blue state divide on names,” says Laura Wattenberg, founder of BabyNameWizard.com and author of The Baby Name Wizard, which claims to be “the expert guide to baby name style.”
But this doesn’t play out the way you might expect. More progressive communities, Wattenberg says, tend to favor more old-fashioned names. Parents in more conservative areas come up with names that are more creative or androgynous.
“Sometimes people have a naive expectation that people who are politically conservative on social issues would name their kids in traditional ways, and it doesn’t always happen that way,” says Andrew Gelman, a professor of statistics and political science at Columbia University and author of Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State.
Hmmm. Does this mean we’re going to see more boys named Mitt?