In response to last week’s note on ancestral political affiliations, several readers wrote in with some stories and useful tips:
John D. Tew of Purcellville, Virginia: Don Benoit, a cousin who I found through genealogical research – our great-grandfathers were brothers — related a family story that helped me determine someone’s politics. When Don's father was born in 1933 in Oneco, Connecticut, Don's great-grandfather, Elisha Tew, age 76 or 77, reportedly walked the six miles to Oneco from his home in Rhode Island. Upon seeing his new grandson, Elisha announced, "I can now die a happy man because I have a grandson and there is a Democrat as president!" The story provided a pretty good indication about where Elisha's political loyalties rested.
Ann Andersen of Aurora, Colorado: You can sometimes find your ancestor’s political affiliation by determining which newspaper printed their obituary. A number of towns had at least two newspapers with different political leanings.
Janet Pease of Arvada, Colorado: You might also be able to tell ancestral political affiliations by the names of children. My grandfather, born in 1880, had the middle name Garfield, and his older brother's middle name was Fremont — both "Republican" names. Grandpa, however, became a Roosevelt Democrat during the Great Depression and never wavered from his choice!
An interesting article, “Would a Rose by Any Other Name Still Be a Democrat? How Your First Name Can Predict Your Politics,” based on lists of donors to the Obama and Romney campaigns, argues that "names are a strong predictor of support for one party or the other.” Here are some of the findings: “People named William have a 57 percent chance of supporting the Republicans, while Willies are the most Democratic name on the list at 93 percent. . . People named Liz are extremely Democratic, with only 11 percent donating to Republicans. But 26 percent of Elizabeths give to the GOP, and Betty is one of the most Republican women’s names on the list.” You can also enter your own name and view the results.