Naming In The News

National Study Finds Your Pet's Name Reveals Your Presidential Candidate Preferences

You can learn a lot about people from the way they 'brand' their pets. The names of furred and feathered family members reveal a lot about the way Americans think — and vote.

In a recent national study, Strategic Name Development of Minneapolis queried 1,059 consumers about their pets' names and political preferences. The results show some significant correlations between the way we name our pets and the presidential candidates we choose.

Findings

Derogatory Names

Both Hillary Clinton and John McCain supporters have significantly more pets with derogatory names than do Barack Obama supporters, suggesting that Clinton has more in common with McCain than with Obama.

  • McCain supporters show the greatest tendency to brand their pets with irreverent names like Booger, Demonspawn, Fuzzbutt, Killer, Lucifer, Weasel and Stupid.
  • Advocates of Clinton have liberally bestowed pejorative pet names such as Butthead, Bozo, Jizabelle and Cokehead.
  • While Obama supporters use significantly fewer derogatory names, a few negatives, like Spazzie and Smoke and Mirrors, have surfaced.
graph: people who give their pets derogatory names and their presidential preferences

Eponyms

One in three consumers in the study name their pets after people. (Names like this are called "Eponyms".) This tendency is significantly higher for McCain voters compared to Hillary and Obama supporters.

Those who support McCain for president use many notable presidential names for their pets including Jackson, Franklin, Garfield, Ike and, of course, McCain. One McCain supporter even has a dog named Barney, just like the current First Dog.

Those who would vote for Clinton choose political names like Truman and Tancredo. But her fans have also branded their pets with multiple Chelseas and Ariannas (as in Huffington, of course).

Obama supporters have chosen the most eclectic mix of eponyms for their pets: George Washington, Hemmingway, Cher and Mr. T.

graph: people who name their after people and their presidential preferences

SND's own Siberian Huskies, Chomsky and Pushkin, fall into this category. (You are free to draw your own conclusions about what that will mean at the polls in November.)

Coined Names

More than 15% of consumers in the study use coined (or created) names for their pets. In this category, Obama's supporters have significantly more coined pet names than do McCain's.

In Obama's camp are the owners of Bam-Bam, Gordo, Jinxie, D'og, Kitty Dawg and Puhduhduhduh, while McCainites offer both fewer and more moderate coinages like Boo Boo, Cry-Cry and Oh No.

Suggestive Names

More than a fourth of the pet names in the study are suggestive — alluding to a feature or benefit that describes the pet's personality. This naming technique is significantly more prevalent for Hillary Clinton supporters than for her male counterparts.

Among Hillary fans, suggestive pet names like Dreamer and Cupcake are commonplace. McCain supporters, on the other hand, favor the likes of Rebel and Patriot, while those who endorse Obama can claim the likes of Turbo and Streak.

graph: people who give their pets suggestive names and their presidential preferences

Initial Letter of Pet Name

Although the letter J is the most popular first letter for people names in the Western world (11% of all first names), this is not the case for pets. J initializes fewer than 4% of the pet names in our study. S is clearly the most popular initial for pets with 16% of owners choosing S to introduce their pet's name.

Hillary Clinton supporters lean toward energetic S names like Spunkie, Sassy, Sparky and Smarty. Those owners that support Barack Obama are much less likely (13% vs. 18%) to choose names that start with S (Smiley and Spirit notwithstanding).

Ironically, Hillary's supporters also have the edge when it comes to Barack's favorite S word, Sweetie, with nearly 11% of their pet's S names built around Sweets, Sweetie or Sweet Pea. By contrast, Barack supporters have no "Sweet" names, but they do have a source of sweetness in "Honey Bear."

Conclusion

People name their pets based on their own values.

The correlation between the names people give their pets and their political preferences reveals the "personal brand" of each candidate.

John McCain has clearly established himself as a candidate in the tradition of Andrew Jackson and Dwight Eisenhower, and also as the strongest when it comes to defense and homeland security.

Barack Obama appeals to those who seek out originality and a new approach to politics (just what he set out to do).

Despite her hard fighting in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton continues to appeal to those who value a feminine perspective.

Although the most popular initial letter for pets is S,

  • Clinton supporters prefer energetic S names like Spunkie, Sassy, Sparky and Smarty.
  • While none of Obama supporters have pet names that start with S, it is imagined that some day the candidate could name a pet Sweetie.