Giving ‘Hillary’ A Bad Name

Baby names Americans are NOT giving their kids.

Names are an interesting thing.  Looking at what people name their children can often provide a glimpse into the mind of a society.  For example, an increase in a certain name can indicate the popularity of an individual.  On the flip side…well, let’s just say the name “Adolph” isn’t as popular as it once was.

Another name that’s fallen out of favor?  “Hillary.”

Chart 1 CROP

From the Washington Post:

The chart above plots the popularity of the baby name “Hillary” between 1970 and 2014. What you’ll notice right away is that the frequency of the name falls of a cliff starting in 1993, the year Hillary Clinton became first lady.

Francis Smart of the Econometrics by Simulation blog first pointed this out the other day. He notes that the drop is especially striking, given that the popularity of “Hillary” was rising sharply upward until 1992 or so, the year the Clintons first came on to the national stage.

The number behind these charts comes from the Social Security Administration, which maintains a database of baby names going back to the late 1800s. For a sense of how unusual the Clinton effect on the name “Hillary” has been, look at the charts below. They plot the trajectories of the names of all presidents and first ladies since the Reagans, for the years starting in 1970.

It’s interesting, because the closest thing you find to that effect is with the name “Barrack,” which isn’t overly surprising.  After all, when Obama was first elected, it was amid a great deal of hope.  People named their kids because of that hope.

And most of his bump comes after he became part of the national discussion.

However, the hope hype settled down after a while and the nitty-gritty of governing took over. Even Obama’s biggest supporters lost that edge for various reasons.

pres CROP

monica CROPThe thing about Hillary Clinton, however, is that Clinton has always been one of those people folks either love or hate.  Even a number of supporters for her presidential campaign admit they don’t actually like her.  They still support her, however.

Hillary — the name, not the person — started its ascendancy prior to the former first lady’s arrival on the national stage.  It was then that it plummeted.

Experts undoubtedly have a myriad of reasons for this.  However, we tend to think that folks just see Hillary and think, “Yeah, I’d rather snuggle up under a blanket with a cactus and a nice cup of hydrochloric acid than hang with her.”

But that’s just us.

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