What's in a baby name? Parents' politics

A new study says your baby name choice could reveal your political leanings.

There usually isn't much political debate on play dates, but if you're curious about how your fellow parents voted, one of the best indicators might just be the names they gave their children.

A new study out of the University of Chicago found a correlation between baby name choices and political leanings.

For example, would you guess that the father of children named Spencer, Mason and Faith voted for Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? How about the dad of children named Isabella, Gia and Stella?

According to the study, conservatives are drawn to traditional and masculine names with hard consonants such as Spencer and Mason, the names of two daughters of outspoken Republican actor Kelsey Grammer. Grammer went with a traditional name for his newest addition, Faith. Conservatives are also more likely to use masculine names for their daughters. Think Bristol Palin, Sarah Palin's daughter.

Related: Top baby names of 2013

Liberals, on the other hand, were found to prefer multi-syllabic, softer, more feminine-sounding names with soft A's or L's at the end. Good examples include Isabella, Gia and Stella — the names of actor Matt Damon's daughters.

In his study "Liberella versus Konservatives," University of Chicago professor Eric Oliver examined birth certificates of 545,018 babies born in California in 2004, as well as U.S. census data and voting records, and found strong differences in naming practices related to both parents' political ideology and their economic status.

"Liberals are often trying to signal a cultural capital [with their name choice], while conservatives are trying to signal a financial capital," Oliver said. For example, college-educated liberals seem partial to uncommon names like Esme or Finnegan. "These names say 'we're very well-read'," explained Oliver.

Related: What not to name your baby

Conservatives, however, choose established names that indicate current and future economic success. These names often have hard consonants like K, B, D. and T. Take a look at Mitt Romney's sons' names: Tagg, Matt, Ben, Craig and Josh. President Obama, in contrast, named his daughters Malia and Sasha, both with the softer A at the end.

Many of the differences in naming trends also occur by socioeconomic class. Less educated and lower-income parents, Oliver found, are more likely to create new names (like Inti or Areea) or to use unconventional spellings of traditional names (like Madyson or Andruw).


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