Poll: Obama, Clinton Still USA's Most Admired Persons

By: USA Today Email
By: USA Today Email

Gallup Poll on whom Americans admire the most reveals something new, and something not so new: Hillary Rodham Clinton is once again the most admired woman, and Barack Obama is once again the most admired man.

But the emotional scars of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre evoked an unusual answer from some poll respondents. For the first time, the public put "Connecticut teachers" and "U.S. troops" on their lists of admired individuals.

Americans have always looked up most to their president since the poll began in 1948 with Harry Truman as the most admired. But choices also reflect people in the news, and the school shooting clearly had an impact.

Although Gallup's Lydia Saad says their survey tracks admired individuals, not groups, 2% of those surveyed named the Connecticut teachers for "most admired woman." They may have been mindful of the deaths of six female staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School, killed as they tried to protect their students. The survey was conducted a week after the Dec. 14 shootings.

And on the "admired man" list, 2% of respondents placed "U.S. troops."

The lists reflect other shifts.

Although admiration for Obama dimmed somewhat during his first term, his vote tally nearly doubled from 2011 to this year. That's his biggest bump in votes since 2008, when Obama jumped from relative obscurity as a U.S. senator to win his first presidential election.

Clinton — named 16 times since 1993 — continues an uninterrupted decade as Most Admired Woman. The former first lady was named by more people than since 1998, when she was undergoing the impeachment ordeal.

First lady Michelle Obama no longer plays second fiddle to Oprah Winfrey, who was No. 2 in 2011. She swapped places with the television mogul this year. Former secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is No. 4. Tied at fifth are former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, Queen Elizabeth II, former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenage girl activist, gravely wounded by the Taliban for daring to go to school, according to the poll.

Nelson Mandela, the 94-year-old former South African president and anti-apartheid leader, ranks No. 2 for men, perhaps at the top of mind because he just left the hospital after surgery in December. He bumped down former president George W. Bush, who is now in a four-way tie for third with defeated Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the Rev. Billy Graham and Pope Benedict XVI.

Admiration extends beyond the famous: a number of respondents named a friend or relative as most admired.

Nearly 3 in 10 surveyed said "no one" or had no opinion.

Notables no longer making the list include Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Brad Pitt, Glenn Beck, former speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Diane Sawyer and Jennifer Lopez.

The results are based on phone interviews in English or Spanish with 1,038 U.S. adults Dec.19-22.

Read more from USA Today

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