Baby name 'Melania' surged in popularity in 2017 — 'Donald' was unchanged

Key Points
  • Melania Trump's first name surged in popularity in 2017, according to the Social Security Administration's annual report on baby names
  • "Donald" neither gained nor lost popularity
  • The president's name remained at its least popular level in decades
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds babies at a campaign rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S., July 29, 2016.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters

First lady Melania Trump's approval ratings have far outpaced her husband's — and it looks like the popularity of her first name did, as well.

Although it didn't crack the top 10 list of U.S. newborn names, "Melania" saw the fifth-largest jump in popularity among female names last year, according to a new report on the names chosen in 2017.

The report, released Friday by the Social Security Administration, provides data on the popularity of baby names going back as far as 1879. The top four names that rose in popularity last year were "Ensley," "Oaklynn," "Dream" and "Oaklyn".

"Melania" didn't even crack the top 1,000 names in 2016, landing at number 1,650 on the list. But in just one year's time, the first lady's first name surged ahead by 720 spots, winning fifth place in what could be called the "most improved" section of the report.

There were 283 newborns named "Melania" in 2017, accounting for less than 1 percent of all female births in the U.S. last year. Meanwhile, the extremely similar name "Milania" fell sharply in popularity in 2017, dropping 241 spots among female newborns.

But while the former fashion model turned First Lady can bask in the growing popularity of her forename, President Donald Trump is treading water.

"Donald" was one of just 11 male names in 2017 to remain unchanged among newborn babies, according to the report. The name remains stuck in the same rut it fell in last year, when it slid 45 spots to become the 488th most popular boys' name.

There were 594 Donalds born in 2017, also less than one percent of all male births. It's a far cry from its golden year in 1934, when 30,407 babies were named Donald. Perhaps coincidentally, the first appearance of Walt Disney's famous cartoon character, Donald Duck, arrived in 1934 as well.

Separately, other leading lawmakers are suffering a lack of popularity.

For instance, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Though "Mitchell" is technically his middle name (he was born in 1942 as Addison Mitchell McConnell) the name plummeted nearly 60 spots in 2017, hitting its least-popular rank since at least 1900.

Another prominent political first name found itself at record levels of unpopularity in 2017: "Paul," as in House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. The first name of the top Republican in the House of Representatives also hit an all-time popularity low in 2017 — though it had been sliding fairly steadily for decades.

Not every major politician's name was diminished in 2017. "Nancy" rose in popularity from the prior year — the first uptick for the name since 2001 — which might be good news for House minority leader Nancy Pelosi.

The Social Security Administration's full report can be found on its website.