How The Baby Name ‘Donald’ Is Faring On The Popularity Charts

The latest data from the Social Security Administration shows the name Donald saw no change in popularity in the U.S. in 2017 from the year before. Donald remains No. 488 on the SSA’s official list of the most popular baby names of 2017, the same position it occupied in 2016, according to Friday’s release. 

Donald fell 46 places in 2016 ― the year Donald Trump was elected president ― to 488 from 442 the year earlier. Social Security officials reported that 691 Donalds were born in 2015, and 624 babies were given that name in 2016.

In 2017, the number fell slightly, with 594 newborn Donalds. The SSA draws its name data from applications for Social Security cards based on year of birth (as long as the name is at least two characters long, and the sex and state where the birth took place are known). 

There were 2,017,790 newborn males registered with the SSA in 2016, and 1,963,290 in 2017. Thus, the percentage of baby boys named Donald in each year was 0.03 percent. 

Prior to 2017, the current U.S. president’s name had been declining in popularity for some time, though it showed a slightly larger drop in 2016 from the year before.

The name Donald peaked at the sixth-most popular for boys in 1934. Trump was born in 1946, when the name ranked as 13th-most popular.

The names of presidents tend to fall in the popularity charts during their administrations. 

The name Ronald gradually declined in popularity throughout the Reagan era. The same pattern was true for the Nixon and Ford administrations. The year after George W. Bush was elected president, the name George jumped up one spot on the popularity list, though the subsequent years showed decline. The name George also fell in popularity during George H.W. Bush’s administration. 

The name Lyndon saw a major boost in popularity in 1964, the year after President Lyndon B. Johnson took office, but it plummeted for the remainder of his administration. The name Bill dropped off the Top 1,000 list after President Bill Clinton took office, though the name William generally increased in popularity. 

The name Barack did not appear in the SSA’s records, which document the names given to five or more newborns each year, until 2007, when five baby Baracks appeared on the scene. The year Barack Obama became president, 52 newborn babies were named Barack, and the number jumped to 71 in 2009. 

The number of baby Baracks declined throughout Obama’s presidency ― with 28 in 2010, 15 in 2011, 16 in 2012, 11 in 2013 and 2014, and eight in 2015. However, in 2016, the final year of his second term, the number rose again with 19 newborn Baracks. In 2017, there were 11. 

The name Donald is certainly more loaded these days, as the name of one of the more controversial U.S. presidents.

However, controversy or bad press don’t necessarily cause a name to plummet. In fact, Cleveland K. Evans, a Bellevue University psychology professor and former president of the American Name Society, told The Associated Press in 2007 that publicity around a particular name, whether positive or negative, usually boosts its popularity.

“So many parents are looking for a new, unusual name, there are always a few of them who are going to take it from any cultural event,” said Evans.

Will Donald maintain its ranking in 2018, or will it see a boost or decrease? We’ll have to wait another year to find out. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that the name Donald had fallen 45 spots from No. 443 to 488 between 2015 and 2016. It in fact dropped 46 spots from 442 to 488. 

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