The Name "Hillary" Dropped 90 Percent in Popularity While She Was First Lady

Posted: Feb 05, 2016 1:15 PM

While it's normal for baby names to fluctuate in popularity over time, a Michigan State PhD student found that the name "Hillary" dropped 90 percent in popularity during Hillary Clinton's tenure as First Lady. While other names of First Ladies experienced a drop as well, the decline in popularity of the name "Hillary" was unique in that the name was experiencing a surge prior to Bill Clinton's election in 1992. The second-biggest drop in popularity of a First Lady's name was "Laura," during the eight years of the George W. Bush presidency.

When we look at Figure 1 we can see that naming popularity seems to be heavily affected by First Ladies. Most names experienced a steady downward trend in popularity. The name "Rosalynn" is an exception as it peaked in popularity during the Carter administration before falling by the end to have risen in popularity once again.

The name "Hillary" is very unique in this pattern as unlike most names, it was growing rapidly in popularity prior to the Clinton administration. However, early into the Clinton administration the popularity dropped rapidly falling to pre-1980s levels for the name. Except for a small rally in during the 2007/2008 primary campaign against Obama, it has not recovered.

While this is certainly quite silly and doesn't necessarily mean anything, it's strange to think about how many American girls could have potentially been named Hillary if Bill Clinton had lost the 1992 election. Additionally, it would be curious to see if "Melania," "Jane," "Heidi" or "Jeanette" (the spouses of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, respectively) experience a surge or drop in popularity in the coming years if their husbands are elected.