Do First Ladies Influence the Popularity of Baby Names?
by Christina Lavingia
On the cover of a tabloid or briefly captured on the news, the first ladies of the United States attract a certain level of media fascination. The markers of first ladies' legacies vary, ranging from the lasting humanitarian efforts of Eleanor Roosevelt to the cultural phenomenon that was Jacqueline Lee Kennedy.
While each presidential wife to occupy the White House leverages her influence toward the causes of her choosing, the team at MooseRoots used data from the U.S. Social Security Administration to identify one interesting -- and unintentional -- aftereffect of their tenure: a general decline in the popularity of their first names. A trend that becoming first lady had little effect on.
By using the popularity of a first lady's name the year she entered the White House as the base year, the MooseRoots team was able to compare the frequency of babies given the name in the 10 years preceding and following her arrival at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Although she's better known for her nickname Lady Bird, the name Claudia was nearly 200 percent more popular 10 years before President Lyndon B. Johnson assumed the office in 1963. The name Hillary experienced the most dramatic rise and fall in popularity in the two-year window surrounding President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1992. The name was given 133 percent more often in 1991 and fell by 61 percentage points in 1993.
To be fair, these instances appear to be on the more extreme end of the spectrum. To gain a more holistic picture of the trend, we combined the popularity data for the last 15 first ladies' names.
Ten years before calling the White House home, first ladies' names were 57 percent more popular than upon their arrival. While the average drop in popularity is steepest several years before candidacies are declared and first wives receive country-wide notoriety, the downward trend continues over time.
On average, the names of first ladies dropped 29 percentage points in frequency 10 years after their arrival at the White House.
Although this is the norm, some first ladies' names were more resilient over time. Claudia, for example, was given to baby girls 195 percent more often 10 years before her arrival at the White House and 105 percent more often 10 years after when compared to her first year as a first lady. The frequency wasn't as high, but it bounced up more than all other names analyzed. Meanwhile, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, Barbara Bush, Elizabeth Ann Warren "Betty" Ford, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton all experienced bigger drops in long-term popularity than the average.
When segmenting the first ladies by party affiliation, we see a slightly different story for Republicans versus Democrats. The names of Republicans started off higher but ended up being less popular in the long run. The opposite occurred for first ladies of the Democratic party.
Against expectations, the notoriety of first ladies doesn't positively influence the popularity of their names. Perhaps changing tastes is the predominant factor at play. The prestige of a first lady doesn't seem to change the path of a name that's deemed out of vogue, no matter how popular she and her husband are among Americans.
More AMERICAN POLITICS ...
- Clinton Regains Lead
- How Much Candidates Spent Per Vote
- Tim Kaine Cheat Sheet
- Mike Pence by the Numbers
- Americans Divided on Bathroom Bill
- Clinton's Stubborn 75 Percent Chance Finally Dips Following Email Revelations
- The 2016 Democratic Convention by the Numbers
- The 2016 Republican Convention by the Numbers
- Trump's Fundraising Turnaround: June Marked Best Month So Far
- Trump Captures His Largest Lead So Far in Polls
- Trump Pulls Ahead of Clinton in Key Swing States
- Donald Trump and America B
- House Sit-In Would've Been More Powerful if It Rejected 'No Fly, No Buy'
- Clinton's Foreign Policy Poses a Challenge to the Left
- Hillary Wants to Bring Back Bill. She Shouldn't
- The Real Reason Republicans Are Going after the IRS
- ISIS Must Love Trump
- Can Trump Ride the Anti-Immigration Wave to the White House?
- Trouble for Donald Trump's Campaign
- America's Most Followed Members of Congress
- Hillary Clinton's Major Foreign Policy Address Was Anything But
- Donald Trump Down in the Polls After Rough Week on the Trail
- There's No More Denying It: Trump Is Openly Racist
- Donald Trump: Joker's Wild
- After Orlando: Twitter Recoils from Islamophobia, Takes Aim at Gun Laws
- How Much Blame Should Hillary Clinton Bear for Libya?
- Countries That Receive the Most Foreign Aid From the U.S.
- Hillary Clinton Secures Democratic Nomination
- Welcome to Half Dome, Sponsored by Nike
- Companies Need to Stop Bankrolling Hate
- For Billionaire Donors, Academic Integrity Comes Cheap
- America's Cosmic Tax Gap
- Trump's 'Realty Check' on Climate
- Putin and Trump: Symptoms of Creeping Caesarism
- Obama Promised Open Government, But Hasn't Delivered Yet
- A Coalition of the Unhinged
- Putting Free Speech Out to Pasture
- The Only Sane Conclusion from Orlando
- Orlando Shooting Fuels Debate on Gun Control
- They're Killing Us. Help Us Stop Them
- A Commencement Address for the Most Indebted Class Ever
- Our Poverty Myth
- Which States Have Banned Assault Weapons?
- Government Agencies that Spend the Most
- The Government Agencies that Employ the Most People
- Odd Ways Political Campaigns Spend Their Money
- Congressional Districts with the Youngest and Oldest Voters
- Trump Nabs First Lead Against Clinton in Poll
- Bernie's Bucks: Sanders' Fundraising and Spending Prowess in 5 Charts
- Clinton Holds Razor-Thin Lead
- Doling Out the Dough for Pro-Clinton Super PACs
- States with the Most Women in Politics
- Do First Ladies Influence the Popularity of Baby Names?
- Counties Where Medicare Spends the Most per Patient
- We Live in a Democracy, Not a Theocracy
- Is Trump an American Exceptionalist?
- Sanders vs Clinton on Economic Inequality
- Nine Lessons for Navigating National Security
- Trumped Up Alliances?
- Big Money in Politics Drives War
- Why Clinton Supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Trump Does Not
- The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the 2016 US Presidential Election
- Obama: The Conflict Resolution President?
- Bernie Sanders Still the 2016 Fundraising Champ
- Inequality Will Get Worse Until There's a Revolution
- Crime Can Pay if It's Big Enough
- Political Campaigns May Put Your Personal Data at Risk
- Fear, Anger and Attitudes Toward Immigration
- The New (Anti-)Secularism
- Clinton, Trump Poised for Northeastern Sweep on Tuesday
- Trump's Bad Ideas Aren't Un-American After All
- The Death Gap
- Why Trump Is No Longer a Safe Bet
- 22 People, $43 Million: The People Doling Out the Dough for Pro-Clinton Super PACs
- It's Literally Impossible to Deport 11 Million Immigrants
- Here's What a Budget That Prioritizes Peace Looks Like
- Does the Military Support Trump?
- Where Are the Wealthiest Voters?
- How the Pentagon Wastes Your Money
- This Election, We Can't Afford to Ignore the Climate
- The Children's Crusade
- When Islam Polices Extremists
- Hillary Clinton's State Department Armed Saudi Arabia to the Teeth
- Free From Jail, Imprisoned by Debt
- American Cities Most at Risk of Zika Virus
- Operation Paul Ryan
- What Trumpism Means for Democracy
- Trump Opens Floodgates of Hate
- Missing in Action: Political Reality and Leadership
- Give 'Tax and Spend' a Chance
- Donald Trump: Foreign Policy's Useful Idiot?
- When Red Tape Is a Good Thing
- Trump Holds Strong Lead in New York, Clinton-Sanders Race Tightens
- These States Give the Most Money to the Presidential Race
- The Most Influential Presidential Power Couples
- The Most Influential First Ladies
- Wall Street Should Pay a Sales Tax, Too
- Cruz, Not Trump, Has Shot to Beat Clinton
- Republicans Who Really Don't Like Donald Trump
- What Would Nancy Reagan Say?
- The Humpty Dumpty Party
- What Are Trump's Values -- and America's?
- Primary Trends: Media Goes Crazy, Bettors Yawn
- Most Liberal Members of Congress
- Most Conservative Members of Congress
- 25 Facts About Abraham Lincoln
- 25 Facts About John F. Kennedy
"Do First Ladies Influence the Popularity of Baby Names?"