The Reddest and Bluest Baby Names
Blue State parents may be more apt to vote liberal than their Red State counterparts, but their taste in baby names is far more conservative.
We analyzed which of the Top 500 names were used most often last year in Red States vs. Blue. Our findings: Red State baby names tend to defy convention in spelling, gender identity, and the very definition of a first name, while the Bluest Names toe the traditional line.
Every single one of the Top 25 Reddest Names for both genders lies outside the traditional lexicon of proper names. Red State favorites include first names adapted from surnames such as Number 1 Reddest Names Blakely for girls and Kason for boys, word names such as Haven for girls and Kash for boys, and diminutives such as Millie and Hattie used as full names. .
Parents in Blue States, on the other hand, choose relatively conventional first names for their babies. All of the Top 25 Bluest Names for girls are traditional female choices, ranging from Number 1 Francesca to Alexandra to Miriam. In the boys’ Top 25, the only name that diverges from the usual lexicon of first names is surname-name Finnegan.
Other markers of traditional naming in the list of Blue State favorites include girls’ names that are feminizations of male names, such as Gianna and Daniella, and Biblical and/or royal boys’ names, such as Leo, Nicholas, and Peter.
Red State parents are also much more likely to invent new spellings for baby names, with popular girls’ names including Kyleigh and Journee and four different spellings of Kason dominating the boys’ list. And the Reddest Names tend to push gender boundaries, with McKinley ranking in the Top 10 for girls and Lane in the Top 20 for boys.
Blue baby names may conform more to spelling and gender norms, but they’re also more likely to be ethnically diverse. Blue State favorites for girls range from the Irish Maeve to the Italian Giuliana to the Hebrew Esther, and on the boys’ side, from the Arabic Mohamed to the Indian Arjun to the Spanish Thiago.
Ethnic differences may go further than politics to explain the Red State-Blue State baby name divide. Latino, Italian, Irish, and Jewish parents, who claim a larger share of the population in Blue States, also tend to more closely follow family and religious traditions when naming their babies.
Blue State parents favor names that end in the letter a for girls in 22 of the Top 25 cases, and also choose vowel-ending names for boys ten of the Top 25 times. Red State parents prefer to end names with the letter n for boys and either the lee or the lyn sound for girls.
A few unexpected findings: The Red State Top 25 includes the name of Blue State favorite son Kennedi at the girls’ Number 3, along with sacred Jewish surname Cohen at Number 15 for boys and Eastern establishment university name Princeton at the boys’ Number 20.
More predictable may be the Red States’ relative preference for gun-themed and military names, with Gunner, Major, Colt, and Remington in the boys’ Top 50. And it may not be surprising that Red State parents are more likely to name their babies Rhett (Butler) or Bristol (Palin) while Blue State parents honor (Pope) Francis and Angelina (Jolie).
Here, the 25 Bluest and Reddest Baby Names for each gender, with the percent they veer toward one side or the other.