Romney, The Baby Name: A 2012 Election Names Roundup

Jul 26th 2012

As first predicted here last November, Americans are facing a presidential election between exciting, unconventional candidates...in the name arena, at least.

Barack was our Name of the Year back in 2007, before Senator Barack Obama had even secured his party's nomination. The reasons were the name's unprecedented status as a "foreign" first name in American presidential politics, and the unprecedented way that the name itself was becoming a campaign issue. Even now, in 2012, the President's name remains a key weapon in the arsenal of those who hope to convince Americans that he is secretly a foreign-born Muslim.

As for Mitt Romney, the name Mitt epitomizes the modern political requirement to paint the candidate as "a regular guy." Forget that we're talking about a job that requires vast knowledge, delicate etiquette, and super-human powers of judgment to keep the world from exploding. The real question, apparently, is whether the candidate would fit in at your backyard weenie roast. Thus the typical presidential hopeful today goes by a friendly, one-syllable nickname.

In Governer Romney's case, the punchy nickname was inherited from a cousin of his father, Milton "Mitt" Romney. The candidate's given name, Willard (from dad's pal Willard Marriott, founder of the Marriott hotel chain), has been buried so deeply that it doesn't appear anywhere on his entire campaign website, including his official bio.

But there's another name in this race; a last name. Romney is a rare but simple English surname, with one of the three dominant endings -- y, r, and n -- that have turned hundreds of surnames into trendy baby names in the past generation. Here's just sampling of names with a Romney-like rhythm and heritage that make the current girls' top-1000 list:

Blakely, Kinsley, Sidney, Tenley, Hadley, Whitney, Brinley, Aubrey, Bentley, Kensley

Names like Brantley, Bentley and Oakley are soaring for boys, too. In past generations, that style coupled with a major presidential candidate would have guaranteed a surge of baby Romneys. Today, though, naming for political heroes has all but disappeared. In fact, parents seem to be actively avoiding politicized names. Otherwise the vast media focus on Sarah Palin should have led to a wave of little rhymes-with-Jalen Palins.

Let's turn, then, to the Washington names that do still shape baby name style: the names of political children. Malia, Sasha, Bristol and Piper are the real naming legacy of the 2008 election. The Romneys are parents of five sons, Craig, Benjamin, Joshua, Matthew and Taggart. The first four names are too familiar to catch parents' attention, so that leaves Taggart, called Tagg. If the name were Taggett, a la Beckett, Emmett and Wyatt, parents might be intrigued. But -rt names are at an all-time historic low.

Thus I'm left with a prediction of stunningly boring simplicity. The 2012 presidential election will have absolutely no impact on baby names at all...unless Romney picks a running mate with some pretty trendy kids.

Comments

1
By Guestsdddddd (not verified)
July 26, 2012 4:10 PM

Romney reminds me of Romy. I like them both! 

 

2
By Guestsdddddd (not verified)
July 26, 2012 4:11 PM

Romney reminds me of Romy. I like them both! 

3
By J&H's mom (not verified)
July 27, 2012 4:35 PM

I could see just Tagg appealing.

I like it myself, and it's similar to other short and snappy names I've been hearing on boys lately. Am I the only one who has met mulitple little boys named Cruz?

Did Trigg or Trip catch on at all after the Palin babies?

4
By Patricia NLI (not verified)
July 28, 2012 11:16 PM

VP Biden has a granddaughter with an unusual name/nickname: 12-year-old Roberta Mabel "Maisy" Biden, daughter of Robert "Hunter" Biden. While Maisy isn't a top name in the USA, it's very popular in England/Wales. In the 2010 (last published) official baby name stats there, Maisie ranked 14, while Maisy ranked 100. Maisey was #248. Maisie also shows up among the many hyphenated names in the English list, including Maisie-Leigh, Maisie-Grace, Maisie-Mae (or - May), Maisie-Rose, Maisie-Jane, and others. Mabel too ranks in the top names in England at #386. I think Maisy/Maisie is a name that could catch on here too.

Maisy Biden's older sisters are called Finnegan and Naomi (both are family names too).

5
By Patricia NLI (not verified)
July 28, 2012 11:17 PM

VP Biden has a granddaughter with an unusual name/nickname: 12-year-old Roberta Mabel "Maisy" Biden, daughter of Robert "Hunter" Biden. While Maisy isn't a top name in the USA, it's very popular in England/Wales. In the 2010 (last published) official baby name stats there, Maisie ranked 14, while Maisy ranked 100. Maisey was #248. Maisie also shows up among the many hyphenated names in the English list, including Maisie-Leigh, Maisie-Grace, Maisie-Mae (or - May), Maisie-Rose, Maisie-Jane, and others. Mabel too ranks in the top names in England at #386. I think Maisy/Maisie is a name that could catch on here too.

Maisy Biden's older sisters are called Finnegan and Naomi (both are family names too).

6
By Patricia NLI (not verified)
July 28, 2012 11:22 PM

VP Biden has a granddaughter with an unusual name/nickname: 12-year-old Roberta Mabel "Maisy" Biden, daughter of Robert "Hunter" Biden. While Maisy isn't a top name in the USA, it's very popular in England/Wales. In the 2010 (last published) official baby name stats there, Maisie ranked 14, while Maisy ranked 100. Maisey was #248. Maisie also shows up among the many hyphenated names in the English list, including Maisie-Leigh, Maisie-Grace, Maisie-Mae (or - May), Maisie-Rose, Maisie-Jane, and others. Mabel too ranks in the top names in England at #386. I think Maisy/Maisie is a name that could catch on here too.

Maisy Biden's older sisters are called Finnegan and Naomi (both are family names too).

7
By Patricia NLI (not verified)
July 28, 2012 11:25 PM

VP Biden has a granddaughter with an unusual name/nickname: 12-year-old Roberta Mabel "Maisy" Biden, daughter of Robert "Hunter" Biden. While Maisy isn't a top name in the USA, it's very popular in England/Wales. In the 2010 (last published) official baby name stats there, Maisie ranked 14, while Maisy ranked 100. Maisey was #248. Maisie also shows up among the many hyphenated names in the English list, including Maisie-Leigh, Maisie-Grace, Maisie-Mae (or - May), Maisie-Rose, Maisie-Jane, and others. Mabel too ranks in the top names in England at #386. I think Maisy/Maisie is a name that could catch on here too.

Maisy Biden's older sisters are called Finnegan and Naomi (both are family names too).

8
By Patricia NLI (not verified)
July 29, 2012 7:28 AM

Sorry about the quadruple posting. I was unable to get my comments to post last evening, but I see this morning that they did turn up eventually.

9
By LauraP (not verified)
July 29, 2012 10:21 PM

I know a five-month-old baby Taggart. Until I read this post, I thought it was a nod to Dagny Taggart, of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged." Given his parent's political leanings, it might be in honor of both...

10
By SabbyLo (not verified)
July 30, 2012 12:54 PM

Laura, I have to disagree with Taggett appealing more to parents than Taggart. Taggett has an unfortunate rhyme for teasing. But that aside, I agree it would seem to appeal more than the -rt ending.

11
By Guest3p0 (not verified)
July 30, 2012 1:43 PM

the funny thing is, even though "Mitt Romney" seems like a name you're more likely to hear at a "weenie roast" I think Barack Obama is closer in class stature than Mitt Romney ever could be and Barack would be a lot more fun at a weenie roast any way. Mitt Romney has probably never been to a weenie roast in his life, more like champagne and cavier backyard party probably - I think it's definitely something that should be highlighted and I really like this post by Laura for pointing these sorts of things out. The President isn't an every-man so why do we want him to be one? Silly. Strange though also how a nickname has turned out so well for Romney. What if he had never gone by Mitt? What if he had always been Willard Romney, how would that have affected his political career/life? Willard and Mitt just seem so different, like completely different people.

12
By Jan (not verified)
July 30, 2012 2:20 PM

I imagine if he didn't have the nn Mitt, Romney would have gone by Will for electability.

 

13
July 30, 2012 2:20 PM

It's strange to me that Willard never appears on the campaign website. Thanks, Laura, for pointing that out. His nickname does strike a completely different note. The subtle but undeniable power of a name is proven again.

14
By J&H's mom (not verified)
July 31, 2012 2:21 AM

Is Maisy still unusual?

I think it's totally adorable, and I could definitely see it catching on. Paisley is already out there, after all.

I actually know of at least two young Maisys, but they each have unique spellings. One is something like Mayzee.

I think if I used it, it would be a nickname for something. Maybe the UK is still ahead of us in nicknames as proper names? I've noticed Eliza on its own on more polls lately, so maybe we're right behind.

15
By kathryn281 (not verified)
July 31, 2012 1:24 PM

Names of some of the rumored GOP VP possibilities

Sen Marco Rubio  has 4 children, Amanda, Daniella, Anthony, and Dominic

Gov Bobby Jindal has 3 children. Selia Elizabeth, Shaan Robert, and Slade Ryan

Sen Rob Portman has 3 children, Jed, Will and Sally

Sen Kelly Ayotte has two children, Katherine and Jacob

Gov Tim Pawlenty has two daughters, Anna and Mara

Gov Chris Christie has 4 kids, Andrew, Sara, Patrick, and Bridget.

 

16
By rhodolady (not verified)
July 31, 2012 5:21 PM

OT  -  Baby Alert: new Twins in Ontario

Brooklyn (G) and Braxton (B)

Does this meant they should have lived in Kentucky?  :-)  New Mommy did live in Florida for a couple of years.

 

17
By rhodolady (not verified)
July 31, 2012 5:26 PM

OT  -  Baby Alert  -  New Twins in Ontario

Brooklyn (G) and Braxton (B)

According to the last topic (State Quiz) they should have lived in Kentucky!  :-)   New Mommy did live in Florida for a few years.

 

18
By RB
August 1, 2012 9:47 AM

Laura, thanks for the analysis! A couple months back I made a comment (can't remember what the original post was about, but I was probably pretty OT) about the slim possibility that the name "Romney" might appeal to parents. It's so interesting to read your more in-depth exploration of the (probably minimal) naming legacy of this election. I really find the subject of names most interesting when it moves into the historical, sociological, and political realms.

And I agree with J&H's mom: I wouldn't be surprised if just "Tagg" made some minor waves. Taggart, not so much. Seems to fit with names like Colt, Zane, Cash, etc.

19
By Choose a Girl name (not verified)
August 2, 2012 6:21 AM

Some families hace their child name according to tradition like if father's name is justin harry1 then child's name will be Justiin harry2 . i think after 50 year age of the child, it will be not a good decision.

20
August 11, 2012 8:54 AM

Looks like Paul Ryan is the nominee. His children have the pedestrian names Elizabeth, Charles, and Samuel. While I love all three names, I confess to finding them boring compared to Barack and Mitt!

21
August 16, 2012 1:16 AM

I doubt Romney would have managed a successful political career if he actually went by Willard. Most good political names have a punch to them; 'Will Romney" is a smushy amoeba name with no hard sounds in it. Sounds that are made with the lips and teeth are more likely to feel engaging, I think. 

 

Compare BaracObama, Teddy RooseveltAbraham Lincoln, Jack (and Bobby, and Ted) Kennedy. Even presidents that have a less engaging surname - like Monroe - usually do have an engaging first name - in his case, James.

 

 

22
October 10, 2012 1:37 AM

I find this really interesting. We often associate baby names to famous people associate with important events.

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October 10, 2012 2:37 AM

Romney seems a nice name for a newborn boy. Its quite easy to say and remember.

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Romney is a nice name, and is easily remember. It would be a perfect baby name.

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