The Times data-mined two months’ worth of election polling conducted in partnership with Siena College on Monday to determine which first names made voters most likely to support incumbent Republican President Donald Trump or Democratic challenger Joe Biden. Rather than simply present the results, the paper of record plunged further into Buzzfeed territory by asking readers to guess at the “patterns that emerged.”
— Eli Yokley (@eyokley) November 2, 2020
“We hope you’ll learn as much about politics and culture as we learned in putting [the quiz] together,” the outlet wrote, apparently without irony, serving up the slice of divide-and-conquer fluff that made last week’s “Trump fridge vs. Biden fridge” quiz – in which readers were asked to guess from the contents of dozens of refrigerators who their owner was voting for – look like hard-hitting journalism.
Among the 10 most common male and female names presented, “Richard” was listed as the most pro-Trump, with 64 percent of people with that name likely to cast their vote for the incumbent – which opened the social media floodgates to scores of “Dick” jokes. “How perfect that Dicks love Trump,” numerous users tweeted.
Dicks are all in for Trump
— R. Hell Grave (@rlnave) November 2, 2020
Meanwhile, “Karen” was most likely to vote for Biden, even though the middle-aged, manager-seeking woman of the eponymous meme is frequently used as a stand-in for Trump supporters. The shock reversal had many in denial, insisting either the Democrats weren’t “real” Karens or that women named Karen were so eager to distance themselves from the meme that they wore their Biden support on their sleeves.
Then, they are not real Karens. This is Karen pic.twitter.com/NSp00VNsgb
— Edgeoforever 🖖 🐝 (@edgeoforever) November 2, 2020
Karens are leaving trump? No wonder he's building that wall
— Bob P (@BackBackBay) November 2, 2020
Only in the last sentence of the article did the Times admit its conclusions were essentially meaningless: “We encourage you not to make too much of small differences between any two names, given the sample sizes.” Names borne by as few as 30 respondents were included in the survey, a methodology which would raise scientific eyebrows if any scientists actually stooped to analyze the “study.”
Many on social media questioned why the Times was wasting space on substance-free yet divisive political quizzes.
What a stupid thing to waste trees on. NYT becoming New York Post.
— Inez Milholland was a young suffragist (@MischaGrey11) November 2, 2020
This is the LAST thing we need to use to judge and is de people. Horrible journalism.
— truelovescamrecovery (@truelovescam) November 2, 2020
Though some tried valiantly to derive meaning from the data, noting there were gender and age patterns the Times was pointedly ignoring. “Based on these names, it doesn’t look like they polled anyone under 45,” one user observed.
The only thing interesting here is the gender split.
8/10 men's names lean Trump.
7/10 women's names lean Biden.
— Dave Algoso (@dalgoso) November 2, 2020
Those are Boomer and some Gen X names.
Where are my Jasons, Joshes,Brandons, and Noahs?
Brittanys, and the 3 TV witches: Tabithas, Sabrinas, and Samanthas?
— Kentucky Jacquerie (@defargeknits) November 2, 2020
Others took the Times’ apparent intention and ran with it, suggesting Trump-supporting names be socially ostracized alongside “Karens” – or that the Times was oversampling “white people” and thus underestimating Biden support by leaving out “less popular names” like “Elijah, Miguel and Eleanor”…
Clearly we’ve done Karen’s a grave injustice while giving Nancy’s a pass
— Ariadne Olivia (@AriDrennen) November 2, 2020
Nancy and Jennifer owe Karen an apology.
— Snarky Duck (@thesnarkenator) November 2, 2020
… while others had fun with this new branch of “science.”
“Guys with the battleground name of Chris or Joe can expect a lot of phone calls today,” one wrote, noting the 50/50 split on voters named Christopher and Joseph.
I want the analysis of the Debra/Deborah divide pic.twitter.com/DxujfcwWJB
— Josh (@joshkross) November 2, 2020
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