That other name in the race
In December, I tapped Barack as my official Baby Name of the Year. But there's another significant name story in the Democratic race. Hillary Clinton has already swayed the naming of thousands of American babies.
In the late 1980s, Hillary was a fashionable contemporary name for girls. Two spellings (Hillary, Hilary) were equally popular, both ranking around #250 in national popularity. Then Bill Clinton hit the campaign trail, and see what happened:
If you contemplate that graph, you'll see three separate phenomena. First, Hillary Clinton's new national visibility gave her name a huge boost. Second, once she actually became first lady her name plummeted. And third, she took such complete ownership of the name that the single-L spelling became irrelevant. All of Hilary Swank's Oscars and Hilary Duff's omnipresence haven't made a dent...and that was before Ms. Clinton started running a presidential campaign on a first-name-only basis. This is now Hillary Clinton's name, like it or lump it.
Punditry alert: I'll be talking about political names on MSNBC this Sunday morning (2/24).