Parents draw baby name inspiration from all sorts of iconic figures, including United States presidents.
But while George, John, James and William are classic choices, the same can’t quite be said of the name Barack. Still, President Obama has undoubtedly made a mark on baby naming trends in the U.S.
Barack did not appear in Social Security Administration’s baby name records ― which document the names given to five or more newborns each year ― until 2007 when five baby Baracks appeared on the scene.
In 2008, the year Obama became the first black man to be elected president, 52 new babies were named Barack, and the number jumped up to 69 in 2009. In 2008, 14 babies were named Obama, and 16 baby Obamas were born in 2009.
Earlier this year, WNYC caught up with a boy named Barack Chad Joseph Tillard, who was born three months after Inauguration Day in 2009.
Although Tillard likes to be seen as his own person, he said he is inspired by his presidential namesake. “I learned a lot from him from the past — all of my life,” Barack said. “I learned to be a leader. And my two parents taught me to be a leader too,” the 7-year-old said.
The number of babies named Obama fell back below five after 2009. Similarly, 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, the most recent baby-naming reports suggest that Barack is back on the rise. According to the SSA data released in May, 19 baby boys were named Barack in 2016. And over the past decade, many more parents have used Barack as a middle name.
The Obama daughters, Malia and Sasha, have seen a similar trajectory with their names. Malia peaked at number 191 in 2009, with 1,699 baby girls given that name, but then it fell in popularity, jumping around within the number 301 to 353 range between 2010 and 2015.
In the last year of Obama’s presidency, however, his older daughter’s name jumped back up to number 259, with 1,227 baby Malias born last year.
The name Sasha peaked in popularity in 1988, but after a slow decline, it jumped back up to number 261 in 2009, with 1,250 baby girl Sashas born that year. After a general pattern of decline during the Obama administration (bottoming out at number 565 in 2014), Sasha rose back up to number 533 in 2016, with 581 babies given that name last year.
Meanwhile, former First Lady Michelle Obama’s name has been declining in popularity ever since its peak as the second most popular baby name for girls in the U.S. in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Still, with over 1,559 babies named Michelle in 2016, it remains more popular than Barack, Malia and Sasha.
Only time will tell if the former first family will have a lasting impact on baby naming patterns in the U.S. If the growing popularity of the name Lincoln in recent years is any indication, that kind of influence may persist long after the presidency.