'Kamala' poised to experience a major baby name bump as Harris becomes vice president

Kamala Harris with baby

Summary List Placement

  • Among Americans, naming a baby “Kamala” has always been a
    rarity. But history suggests that will change now that Kamala
    Harris is poised to become vice president.
  • Hillary Clinton, Melania Trump, Jacqueline Kennedy and Malia
    Obama helped popularize their first names — or at least
    temporarily stop their slide into obscurity.
  • The names “Woodrow,” “Franklin,” “Dwight,” and “Lyndon,” among
    others, reached the peak of their popularity during years when
    presidents of those names took office, according to Social Security
    Administration data.
  • Political figures aren’t the only ones who help cause baby name
    popularity spikes. Sports and film have helped propel the likes of
    “Leia,” “Scarlett,” “Kobe,” and “Kunta.”�
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Don’t be shocked if the high school class of 2039 is crammed
with Kamalas.

Incoming Vice President
Kamala Harris
appears poised to join the likes of other
political luminaries and trailblazers who trigger notable if
temporary baby name bumps immediately after their initial turns on
the national stage, an Insider analysis of Social Security
Administration data indicates. 

Take “Hillary.” After years of declining popularity, the name’s
rank among girl baby names spiked from 961 in 2007 to 722 in 2008
— the year then-Sen. Hillary Clinton unsuccessfully ran for
president but
she had put “18 million cracks” in the glass

“Hillary” never again cracked the top 1,000 list.

In 2009, when first daughter Malia Obama moved into the White
House, “Malia” ranked 193rd among girl names. Never before, and
never since, has it been so popular. “Sasha” — as in Sasha Obama
— also in 2009 rivaled the peak of the name’s late-eighties

Only once has “Melania” made the top 1,000 baby name list: in
2017, the year Melania Trump became first lady.

No dice, however, for Donald Trump. “Donald” ticked up two
places in 2017 — to 487 in 2017 among baby boys’ names from 489
in 2016. 

But by 2018, “Donald” had fallen to the 526th most popular name
— as unpopular a baby name as it’s ever been in the United States
during either the 20th or 21st centuries, Social Security
Administration records show.

“Barack” has never entered the top 1,000 during a given year,
even when Barack Obama became president in 2009. 

First lady Michelle Obama that year paused the precipitous slide
of “Michelle,” which has increasingly fallen out of fashion. By
2018, “Michelle” hadn’t been so unpopular since the mid-1940s. 

Naming children after newly inaugurated US presidents has been a
common practice throughout modern US history.

The baby names “Woodrow,” “Calvin,” “Herbert,” “Franklin,”
“Dwight,” and “Lyndon” all reached the pinnacle of their popularity
during the year (or year after) a president with that first name
took office.

“Jacqueline” — as in first lady Jacqueline Kennedy — hit its
highest rank of No. 37 in 1961, the year her husband, John F.
Kennedy became president, and again in 1964, the year after her
husband was assassinated.

“Joseph” — incoming President Joe Biden’s given name — is a
perennial Top 25 boy baby name, although it’s popularity has
flagged slightly this decade, finishing No. 24 in 2019 — its
lowest rank since 1900. “Jose,” the Spanish version of “Joseph,”
has finished in the Top 100 since the early 1960s.

‘Kamala’ has never cracked the top 1,000

This baby name spike phenomenon isn’t unique to politicians.

You’d almost never find a newborn named Kobe or Shaquille until
Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal began playing professional
basketball. “Shaquille” hit a high point of No. 181 in 1993 before
fizzling by the late 1990s, although “Kobe” has remained a top
1,000 name every year since 1997.

“Scarlett” earned tepid popularity in the early 1940s thanks to
the lead character of “Gone with the Wind,” but it only took off
this century, perhaps thanks in part to actor Scarlett Johansson.
By 2018, “Scarlett” ranked No. 20 among baby girl names.

Similarly, “Leia” first appeared on the top 1,000 list in 1978,
following the release of “Star Wars,” and after falling out of
favor for 25 years, has rebounded of late to No. 296 in 2018.

“Kunta” — as in Kunta Kinte, the protagonist in the mid-1970s
novel and television miniseries “Roots” — was a top 1,000 baby
name for boys just once, in 1977.

“Kamala” has never cracked the top 1,000 for baby girl names in
the United States during any year on record, according to Social
Security Administration data. 

But the California Democrat is a singular political figure: the
first woman, first Black American and first South Asian American to
occupy the vice presidency.

And only several hundred parents next year naming their children
“Kamala” could be enough to make another kind of history.

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Source: FS – All – Interesting – Lifestyle
'Kamala' poised to experience a major baby name bump as
Harris becomes vice president