Barack-A-Bye Babies

There's no evidence that Obama's victory will lead to another baby boom

From Newsweek comes information that the jubilation inspired by the victory of Barack Obama in the recent presidential election may trigger something of a baby boom in August, 2009:

In the hours and days since Obama’s victory, many of his exhilarated supporters have been, shall we say, in the mood for love. And though it’s too soon to know for sure, experts aren’t ruling out the possibility of an Obama baby boom—the kind of blip in the national birth rate that often follows a seismic event, whether it’s scary (a terrorist attack) or celebratory (the end of World War II).

Excitingly, Obama himself was born almost nine months to the day after the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy to the White House.

This idea is an appealing one because people love thinking that national politics, our sex lives, and demographic trends easily intersect. The Newsweek article was chock full of expert opinion but somewhat short on actual reasoning.

While a number of people did indeed have sexual intercourse on the night of November 4, 2008, it is hard to tell what this actually means. People, especially those in long-term monogamous relationships, have sex all the time. Sometimes people have sex after something great happens; sometimes people have sex after something terrible happens. And then sometimes couples have sex after, well, a satisfying day of bill paying and TV watching.

What’s missing from this article is a basic acknowledgment of Americans’ sexual practices. In order for Obama to trigger an actual baby boom, election night would have to spur a rash of irresponsible and unprotected sex. This might be true, but it wouldn’t seem to make much sense. (Obama’s president! Guess I don’t need this diaphragm any more!)

Also included in the article were several non sequiturs, such as:

And in Chicago, where 28-year-old Chip Bouchard—a former Hillary supporter—attended Obama’s acceptance speech, he says he looked over at his boyfriend, Chris, and thought: “This [is] the president under whom I [want to] get married and adopt a baby.”

It’s nice to try and include everyone in this discussion (and yes, euphoria over the Obama election does extend to everyone) but Mr. Bouchard’s feelings are irrelevant in terms of explaining a baby boom; any child he decided to have with Chris would, after all, have to be conceived by somebody else.

But then, maybe all that unprotected sex on the night of November 4th (and corresponding unplanned pregnancies) means more babies up for adoption in August.

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Daniel Luzer is web editor of the Washington Monthly.