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State Name Popularity

October 30th, 2014
states, data

After Brandon posted a map of places in one state named after other states, I was curious which states are the most popular. I had some guesses: lots of Washington because of the president, older and bigger states more heavily represented, but I wasn't very confident in any of it. So I downloaded the list of domestic names from the USGS to find out. [1]

179Washington
42Virginia
41Texas
28California
22Delaware
21Wyoming
20Oregon
19Kansas
16Georgia
15Oklahoma
15Michigan
14Montana
14Maryland
13Nebraska
12Nevada
11Minnesota
11Florida
11Colorado
11Alabama
10Ohio
10New York
9Maine
9Iowa
7Vermont
7Connecticut
6Missouri
6Kentucky
6Illinois
6Idaho
6Arkansas
6Alaska
5Tennessee
4Utah
3Rhode Island
3New Hampshire
3Arizona
2West Virginia
2Pennsylvania
2Indiana
1Wisconsin
1New Mexico
1Louisiana

No matches for: Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota. The Dakotas and Carolinas make sense: if you consider them without "North" or "South" you get 9 for "Dakota" and 16 for "Carolina". You could think "New Jersey" is just suffering because it has "New," but "New York" did fine. Still, I can see why people don't want to name their town "New Jersey," and "Massachusetts" and "Mississippi" are kind of awkwardly long, but why not "Hawaii"? That's a nice place, and "Alaska," equally recent, has six towns including two in PA.

If people aren't naming their towns "Massachusetts" are they at least honoring our excellent state in naming their children? The Social Security Administration provides names for people born since 1880, where at least five people were given that name and gender that year. Doing the same calculation we get:

Virginia648,005
Georgia146,132
Montana9,879
Florida3,532
Nevada3,431
Washington2,518
Arizona2,273
Indiana1,553
Missouri1,541
Maryland1,288
Kansas1,017
Tennessee806
Texas544
Alaska400
Utah341
Louisiana278
Alabama194
California150
Iowa79
Nebraska75
Colorado59
Vermont28
Illinois16
Wyoming11
Maine9
Oklahoma5
Michigan5
Hawaii5
Because first names can't have spaces, the ten states with two-word names aren't included. But again if we break out "Dakota" and "Carolina" we get 108,013 and 39,348 respectively, so they would be up there.

How well do these two measures of popularity correlate?

Not very well. Except everyone agrees not to name things "Massachusetts".


[1] Following Brandon, I filtered out anything containing "trailer," "historical," or "mobile home". Unlike Brandon I required whole-word matches, so Bidahochi AZ would not be counted towards Idaho.

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