The New York Times has provided the American public with a way to kill at least 10 minutes of these excruciatingly long next two days: a searchable list of voting preferences by popular first name. Based on two months of polling data gathered by the Times, the list lets you check on the likelihood that someone named Donald voted for Donald (68 percent) and that someone named Joseph voted for Joe (45 percent, tied with the 45 percent of Josephs for Trump.) It’s like the Social Security baby name database has been MacGyver-ed to affirm or debunk knee-jerk associations with various names—though sadly not all of them. It only contains 102 entries, and thus cannot confirm one writer’s suspicions about, let’s say, Kyle.
Digging around the list turns up both “duhs” and “huh!s.” Ronalds (duh) support Trump at a rate of 61 percent. Janets and Nancys—names that were most popular in the 1930s—lean heavily Trump, while Barbaras—also a popular boomer name, though more in the 1940s—lean Biden. Sarahs—most popular in the ’80s and ’90s—back Biden, but Jennifers (huh!), a classic Gen X name, tend to be Trumpish. And spelling matters: Stevens are 2 percent more likely to vote Trump, while Stephens are 14 percent more likely to vote Biden; Deborahs are for Biden, but Debras are for Trump. All of this, however, is nothing on the list’s biggest surprise: Trump is losing the Karen vote.
Women actually named Karen—a Top 10 name in the 1950s, ’60s, and early ’70s—lean Biden 60 to 40 percent. The skew for women who behave like Karens is presumably more in Trump’s favor—though maybe not! The Karen burst into the American consciousness in late May of this year with the Central Park Karen incident, when a white woman—real name Amy Cooper (Amys lean 57 percent Biden)—called the cops on a Black bird watcher. The Karen, a woman who looks like Kate (Biden 54, Trump 37) Gosselin and asks to speak with the manager, was already an archetype in widespread circulation, but she’d been turbocharged by the pandemic. COVID Karens could lose it at a supermarket because they had to wear a mask, or lose it because someone else was not. Both versions of COVID Karen, like all Karens, share a conviction that they can mandate how other people behave. But the Central Park Karen tied the Karen specifically to racism and racial violence, to a type of white woman—previously called a Miss Ann (Biden 49, Trump 42), a Becky (Biden 53, Trump 33), a Permit Patty (Biden 51, Trump 44)—who marshals the power of the state to police Black people minding their business.
Central Park Karen was herself a liberal voter, which, back in May, was a big part of the Karen archetype: the not necessarily overtly racist or conservative white female resident of a blue state who condescendingly, dangerously, violently endangers Black people by calling the authorities (or just dropping a line on Nextdoor). But it’s been a pell-mell time for the Karen, and in late June, when St. Louis’ Ken and Karen (actually Mark—Trump 52, Biden 36—and Patricia—Trump 44, Biden 51—McCloskey) were photographed, one barefoot and the other in a pink polo shirt, brandishing guns at peaceful protesters, the Karen took a turn toward a more overtly racist meaning. Despite the trajectory of the Karen, women who are really named Karen seem to prefer Joe Biden. It doesn’t mean those individual Karens aren’t archetypical Karens, but does make it seem like Jennifers, who prefer Trump by 12 percent, got off easy.