Barack Obama continues the tradition of presidents being the most admired.(Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)
A USA TODAY/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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.