'Most admired' list: Gingrich up, Palin down; Obama, Clinton still No. 1

For two years running, President Obama is the man Americans most admire, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is again the most-admired woman, a new Gallup survey shows. But the public’s views of other politicians shifted noticeably in 2011.

Alex Brandon/AP/File
Barack Obama is still the man Americans most admire, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is again the most-admired woman. Here, Obama is seen on Aug. 28, 2008, during his first presidential run.

While nearly 48 percent of voters disapprove of Barack Obama’s performance as president, Americans say Mr. Obama is the man they most admire, according to a Gallup survey. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is the most admired woman.

President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s rankings atop the men’s and women’s "most admired" lists did not change in the 2011 edition of the annual Gallup poll. But the public’s views of other politicians did shift noticeably. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 2008, fell from second place, a spot she has held for the past three years, to fourth place in 2011.      

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann made her first appearance on the list, in the No. 10 spot. The women’s list in order is Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Ms. Palin, Condoleezza Rice, Laura Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Ellen DeGenres, Queen Elizabeth II, and Congresswoman Bachmann.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the only other 2012 Republican presidential candidate to appear on the list, in sixth place. It marks the first time he has made the most admired list since 1995, his only other appearance. The men’s most admired list in order is Mr. Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, the Rev. Billy Graham, Warren Buffett, Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump, Pope Benedict XVI, Bill Gates, and Mormon Church President Thomas Monson.

Given their visibility, US presidents often top the most admired list – but not always. A sitting or newly elected president has won in each of the past 31 years, writes Gallup managing editor Jeffrey Jones. But Gen. Douglas McArthur edged out President Harry Truman for the top spot, as did Gen. Dwight Eisenhower in 1950, before he was elected president. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger outshone Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford in 1973-75, and Pope John Paul II was more admired by the public than was President Jimmy Carter in 1980.

Hillary Clinton has topped the most admired list 16 times since 1993, more often than any other woman. The runner-up is former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, with 13 times in the top spot. The recordholder for first-place finishes among men is Dwight Eisenhower, with 12.

The person who has appeared most frequently in the top 10 of Gallup’s most admired list is the Rev. Mr. Graham, who has been cited 55 times since 1955.  The most frequently cited woman is Queen Elizabeth, whose 44 appearances on the list began in 1948, before she become queen.

The USA Today/Gallup Poll of 1,019 adults was conducted Dec. 15-18. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. 

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