‘Karens Saving Democracy’ and Other Surprises From the ‘NYT’ Election Polls

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Voters cast their ballots in the voting booths at the early vote location at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center in North Charleston, South Carolina on October 16, 2020. (LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)

Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any more dramatic for women named Karen... On Monday, The New York Times released the results from polls it’s been conducting in 18 battleground states, alongside New York’s Siena College. 17,000 voters with 102 common names were polled, and the results draw parallels between voter trends and their first names.

That’s right! Your first name, it turns out, might dictate who you vote for. In one big reveal, the NYT made this handy graph showing who the 20 most popular names (10 male, 10 female) say they are most likely to vote for in the 2020 election.

A chart tallying presidential choice, based on the first name of the voter, according to polls conducted by 'The New York Times' and Siena College.
Presidential choice by first name, according to polls conducted by 'The New York Times' and Siena College.

Naturally, the internet’s first thought was related to those Karen results—60% voting for Biden, 40% for Trump. It also upended the idea that male Karens should probably be called Kevin. (Looks like we’re switching to Richard now.)


Karen and Richard silliness aside, some other results from the polls were genuinely fascinating. Here are the major takeaways:

Women are overwhelmingly voting for Biden, while men are evenly split between the presidential candidates.

74% of Sarahs are voting for Biden, while 67% of Janets are voting for Trump. Age is likely the reason—the name Sarah is most common for women under 45, while Janets tend to be seniors. Biden is, according to the Times, “winning by a landslide among younger voters.”

74% of Jasons and 67% of Brians are voting for Trump—and the reason is surprising. According to the NYT: “Two-syllable boys’ names ending with N were especially popular among younger parents during the 1970s and 1980s. Young parents are more likely to be working class, and an important part of Trump’s base has been white working-class voters.”

63% of Anthonys and Marias are voting for Biden. This is related to two main factors. The first is that a majority of Latinx voters are supporting Biden over Trump. The second is Biden’s popularity with Catholics—51% back him according to Pew Research. (This is also why he has the support of a whopping 76% of Patricks.)

Debras support Trump and Deborahs like Biden. Class is a factor here too. Debra tends to be the more popular spelling for younger parents, while Deborah is more commonly favored by “older parents with bachelor’s degrees, especially in the Northeast.”

78% of Donalds plan to vote for Trump. This is partly because the age of most Donalds skews older—the name peaked in popularity in 1934. But remarkably, it’s also, according to the NYT, because “research has shown that people are drawn to their own names.”

Josephs are evenly split between the two candidates. Meaning Biden’s first name is not influencing voters the way Trump’s is. No one seems to have a definitive answer for why this is.

The New York Times’ has created a searchable table with all 102 names, so you can check and see if your political leanings line up with your namesakes. The Times has requested that readers “not make too much of small differences between any two names, given the sample sizes.” If nothing else, it’s a fun way to pass the time until this hellish week is over?