For Mr. Obama, who was mentioned by 30 percent of those interviewed, it is his fifth year in a row topping the list. For Secretary Clinton, with 21 percent, it’s her 11th straight year on top and 17th overall, adding to her lead as the woman with the most top finishes. The question is open-ended, and the man and woman named must be alive.
Since Gallup started asking the “most admired woman” question in 1948, former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt is second overall to Clinton, with 13 top finishes. On the men’s list, which started in 1946, former General and President Dwight Eisenhower has the most top finishes, with 12. Former President Ronald Reagan and former President Bill Clinton are tied for second with eight, and former President George W. Bush is third with seven.
“Obama's position as the Most Admired Man is not unusual,” writes Frank Newport, Gallup editor in chief. “Sitting presidents, with their extremely high visibility and essentially continuous presence in ongoing news coverage, have won the Most Admired Man honor 56 times out of the 66 years in which Gallup has asked the question – including each of the past 32 years in a row.”
The all-time list of most top finishes for women is a more diverse group. After Clinton and Mrs. Roosevelt come former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (six times), former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy (five), Mother Teresa (four), former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (three), and former first ladies Rosalynn Carter and Nancy Reagan (three each).
On the 2012 list, no one came close to either of the top finishers. Among women, first lady Michelle Obama came in second with 5 percent, followed by entertainment magnate Oprah Winfrey (4 percent); former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (3 percent); four tied at 2 percent each – former GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, teenage Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, Queen Elizabeth II, and Mrs. Thatcher – and two tied at 1 percent each, Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.
On the men’s list for 2012, former South African President Nelson Mandela came in second with 3 percent, followed by four tied at 2 percent each – this year's GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, the Rev. Billy Graham, the younger Mr. Bush, and Pope Benedict XVI. Five men round out the Top 10 with 1 percent apiece: Mr. Clinton, the Dalai Lama, the elder Mr. Bush, Rep. Ron Paul (R) of Texas, and Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona.