Gallup’s most admired list: Hillary Clinton No. 1, but declining

Hillary Clinton has won Gallup's 'most admired woman' for 13 straight years. But this year, just 12 percent gave her that title. Her likely presidential campaign may have something to do with that. 

Carolyn Kaster/AP
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at Georgetown University in Washington Dec. 3.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is once again America’s most admired woman – her 13th straight year atop Gallup’s annual survey and 19th time overall.

But for the second year in a row, Ms. Clinton’s number has declined. In 2012, 21 percent named her the most admired woman, and in 2013, she fell to 15 percent. In 2014, she’s down to 12 percent.

What’s going on? Politics. Clinton is widely seen as a likely presidential candidate in 2016, and we suspect that has repoliticized her image. As secretary of State for President Obama’s first term, she stayed out of the political fray. Now she’s fully back in, weighing in on the issues of the day and doing nothing to discourage speculation about when she might announce her campaign.

Gallup, not surprisingly, finds partisan influence in Americans’ choices.

“Republicans' and Democrats' top five most admired women include both Clinton and [Oprah] Winfrey, and their top five most admired men include both the president and the pope,” writes Jeffrey Jones, Gallup’s managing editor. “Beyond these, their choices differ.”

But here’s an interesting nugget that may give Clintonites pause: Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, Clinton got only 20 percent. She’s still far and away the top choice of Democrats for the nomination, but in Gallup’s open-ended “most admired” question, she’s the choice of only one-fifth of her partisan fellows.

Democrats’ top five women are Clinton (20 percent), entertainment mogul Winfrey (10 percent), Pakistani teen activist Malala Yousafzai (7), first lady Michelle Obama (6), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) of Massachusetts (3).

Clinton enthusiasts can at least take comfort that she scores almost seven times better than Senator Warren, the liberal firebrand who insists she’s not running for president.

Republicans’ top five women are former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (9 percent), Ms. Winfrey (6 percent), Clinton (5), former GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin (4), and actress Angelina Jolie (3).

That 5 percent for Clinton among Republicans is a little plus for the former first lady/senator/secretary of State. But we’re probably way over-interpreting all this. The 2014 midterms just concluded, and maybe some folks are just taking a break from politics and spreading the love. Malala just won the Nobel Peace Prize, no doubt boosting her overall score from 2 percent last year to 5 percent this year.

Another interesting point about the women’s overall list is that below Clinton, the next four are women of color: Winfrey (8 percent), Malala (5), former Secretary of State Rice (4), and Mrs. Obama (3).

On the men’s overall list, Mr. Obama came in first at 19 percent (up from 16 percent last year). It’s his seventh straight year topping the list, typical for US presidents. The only other person of color on the men’s list is retired neurosurgeon and possible GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson, with 1 percent.

In fact, Dr. Carson is the only potential 2016-er to make that list – if nothing else, a sign that the GOP field is big and ill-formed. That was particularly true in early December, when Gallup did its interviews, before former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) announced he was “actively exploring” a run for president.

Among men, Pope Francis came in second at 6 percent.

One more name jumped out at us on the men’s list: Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also got 1 percent. Say what? He certainly had quite the year: hosting the Winter Olympics in Sochi, annexing Crimea, meddling in Ukraine, watching the ruble collapse.

Of the 805 American adults surveyed between Dec. 8 and 11, roughly eight found him most admirable among all living men in the world? Maybe they admire his chutzpah. Or maybe we should just blame North Korean hackers.

To view the full lists, click here.

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