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Progressives choose more traditional baby names — maybe

Progressives choose more traditional baby names — maybe

Conservatives tend to give their babies “trendier” names than liberals, who favor traditional names, according to NPR:

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 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.

While it is unclear exactly how or if data was collected — it appears to be the opinion of Wattenberg — she does provide one theory to explain the assumption:

The reason for more outlandish-sounding names cropping up in conservative quarters is simple, Wattenberg says. Women in red states tend to have their first children earlier than women in blue states. A 23-year-old mom is more likely to come up with something out of the ordinary than one who is 33.

Neither NPR nor Wattenberg define what “trendy” names are, or if it is possible for traditional names to themselves be trendy.


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FTA: A 23-year-old mom is more likely to come up with something out of the ordinary than one who is 33.

And of course, all the 23 year old mothers she speaks of are red state conservatives and live in homes without indoor plumbing!

[I wonder if that argument holds water in New Fallujah (Detroit)?]

LukeHandCool | May 16, 2012 at 11:48 am

If that 10-year gap in successive generations were to hold for centuries, ironically, conservatives would be the ones evolving at a much faster pace … perhaps to the point where the right and left diverge as species (as if that hasn’t already happened … heh heh).

LukeHandCool (who wanted to name his son Rex, but his sister convinced him it sounded too much like a dog’s name).

    persecutor in reply to LukeHandCool. | May 16, 2012 at 11:49 am

    And your wife rebelled when you suggested “King”?

      LukeHandCool in reply to persecutor. | May 16, 2012 at 11:50 am


      I was pushing for Ringo.

        Rex is making a bit of a comeback.

        There is also Roy, i.e. Leroy. If the lad will accept a demotion, Duke, Baron and especially Earl are options.

        If it’s a girl, there is no canine connotation to Regina.

          LukeHandCool in reply to gs. | May 16, 2012 at 12:24 pm

          It’s hell always being ahead of one’s time.

          Luke would be a cool name.

          I want another baby or two. I know it’s very late in the ninth inning, but it’s still possible.

          My wife balks. I might have to slip a mickey (another cool name) into her wine one of these nights. One of these crazy nights. I feel my work isn’t done naming babies …

          LukeHandCool (who loves to name them, but whose devotion stops at changing poo-poo diapers).

          janitor in reply to gs. | May 16, 2012 at 1:51 pm

          LHC, this is what grandchildren are for.

          LukeHandCool in reply to gs. | May 16, 2012 at 2:08 pm


          You are so right!

          I shall be lobbying my children hard with my baby name choices … well, suggestions … maybe demands?

          Don’t stifle Grandpa’s creativity!!

      Ragspierre in reply to persecutor. | May 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      I lobbied my parents to name my baby brother “Crusader”…after Crusader Rabbit (one of my early cartoon friends).

      They declined.

Odd that Wattenberg ASSumes no in-put from fathers.

Perhaps tells us about her prejudices and biases.

CatoRenasci | May 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I find all of this brouhaha over the names of children rather odd. The old American half of my family consistently uses names that have been in the family for generations, often using last names as Christian names or middle names. Even the oddest ones can be found in the family before the Revolution.

The European half has a much older, established protocol that the eldest son of the eldest son is named for his paternal grandfather, and other sons and daughters are named for particular deceased family members, though there is some leeway for younger sons of younger sons, and, especially, with daughters.

Anecdote: I seem to notice lots of younger parents using names from TV and movies. Aren’t those names given to the script by liberals in Hollywood? Couldn’t that mean that liberals are actually naming these conservative’s babies?

2nd Ammendment Mother | May 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Hmmm…. or is it that Conservatives and Southerners tend to connect with family, religion, ethnicity or history when choosing a name.
Granted, I was a younger mother, but our kids names were all family names – Elizabeth, Maria, Jessica, Erin, James, Deverson, Theodore, Dolan (the boys got hit hardest on that one). Among the cousins we have: Tara, Reagan, Declan, Justus, Nevada, Lauren, Cheyanne, Mason, Marshall, Colton, Macy, Bailey, Ian, Colin, Carter, Arlen, Galin….and King (which is a prominent name for several generations).
In the south, in particular, you’ll see kids who go by first & middle names or a notation of some type that denotes multiple generations with the same name – Brian Junior, Mary Elizabeth, John Alex, Anna Victoria or my favorite is a guy who goes by Cinco (he’s officially Frank #5).
In Texas, you see a big trend to find names that reflect a rural lifestyle: lots of Colts, Rugers, Kimbers, Garetts, Tuffs, Daly, Riata, Brand, Windy, Stormy and Zane.

Maybe Jason Michael Carroll already answered the question:
I said I’m from the front pew of a wooden white church
A courthouse clock it still dont work
Where a man’s word means everything
Where moms and dads were high school flames
Who gave their children grandmother’s maiden name
Yeah it may not sound like much
But its Where I’m From

And just how many “progressive” babes make it out of womb alive to live long enough to be named, anyway?

Eh, I’ve followed baby naming trends for years and have heard this assertion before. Upwardly mobile big city and suburban liberals do tend to use classic names, however, they often choose classic names that have a history but are presently out of fashion and pegged to make a comeback. To me, those names are actually trendy in the sense that all of a sudden thousands of people are calling their daughters Abigail and Sophia or whatever the hot name is at any given time.

The early adopters of those names are usually trendy liberals who want to sound sophisticated or quirky. Eventually they drop them for new trendy-but-out-of-fashion names when the riff raff picks up on the trend. They like to be trendsetters.

In my experience conservatives just use names they like. That can be good or bad depending on their influences. You see a lot of names from family, the Bible, television and movies, and even random words. As a devotee of classic, traditional, correctly spelled names with long histories I am appalled by, say, Sarah Palin’s kids’ names. She was given the beautiful, biblical Sarah but really dropped the ball with her own children. I know she has reasons for the names she chose but…ugh.

And Obama doesn’t sail through with flying colors either. To me, and most of history, Sasha is a pet name for the male, Russian, Aleksandr. It has become acceptable for most people but I would never use it or recommend it not just because it’s masculine to me, but also because it is a diminutive.

Following naming trends and researching etymology is pretty interesting but I won’t bore you anymore.

And here I thought proglodytes all called their children the same name – Abortion.

Have they not heard of the ecological inference fallacy?

BannedbytheGuardian | May 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Do ghetto names figure in the unusual choice of young mothers & are these ‘unusual’ AA names skewing the results?

23 would be sort of ancient in their world. Try 15.

Hispanics tend to do traditional names but repro younger than ‘whites’ -say 20..

Incidentally the top name in the UK is the combined versions of Mohammed. There might be a theory in there also.

I think I would give this theory c+.

The American conservative should be optimally independent. There will inherently be more diversity among conservatives than individuals and cooperatives which demonstrate a collectivist disposition. This diversity will be observed as a variance, since conservatives should also be principles oriented. The alternative description of diversity is quite shallow and incidental. It does not recognize the only diversity of consequence exhibited by individuals.

…it is unclear exactly how or if data was collected…

Neither NPR nor Wattenberg define what “trendy” names are…

None of this matters in the journalistic phenomenon of Headline Science. They just put up “Sugar is good for you,” or some other such nonsense, and their job is done.

BannedbytheGuardian | May 16, 2012 at 7:36 pm

One thing is for sure -‘Barack’ has not run up the list. His adoring fans have yet tp push it into the top 1,000 boys names. Ditto Hussein.

On the other hand Bristol Piper & Willow have seen major climbs since 2008.

LOL Bristol has had a meteoric rise from nowhere in 2000-08 to 666 ( :0 ) to 420 in 2011.

Malia 2007 402

2008 -340

2009 -191 -PEAK

2010 304

2011 314 dropping.

Sasha also peaked in 2009 & dropping like a stone to the lowest rank in 10 years.

Julia is quite popular at 57 & William is as common as muck at 3.

Here in the Bay Area Asian and Asian American parents give their children American names. White kids are all Calebs, Aidens and pretty much anything goes for girls.

this article has it inside-out, upside-down, and backwards. it’s the little-house-on-the-prarie-names that are trendy among the left-leaning paleskins…left-leaning browns and blacks favor pulled-out-of-thin-air, totally-made-up names that cross the borders of absurdity and ridiculousness. more conservative-leaning folks tend to favor the tried-and-true names of the john and mary variety.

BannedbytheGuardian | May 17, 2012 at 6:09 am

It is interesting that a top ranked name can either be seen as very popular & good or equally ‘as common “.& not good .

If anyone is interested there is a recent Telegraph,co ,uk/ article about how some ‘chav’ names are leaving needy children out of Adoption favour.

Anne Dunham names her son Barack Hussein. Enough said.