Who we admire: Dems pick Obama, Mandela, Dalai Lama; Republicans like Bush, Beck

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are the most admired Americans.

Who people Admire says a lot about them. The latest Gallup survey places President Obama on top with Democrats and Independents, while Republicans like George W. Bush most. And Democrats’ top five list is heavy on international humanitarians, while Republicans lean toward cable news and Christianity.

From Gallup:

PRINCETON, NJ — President Barack Obama is Americans’ Most Admired Man of 2010, substantially ahead of the former presidents, iconic religious leaders, and others who fill out the top 10 list. Obama first became Americans’ Most Admired Man in 2008, shortly after his election as the nation’s 44th president, and has held the title since then.

And while Obama’s percentage has fallen off since his starting figure of 30%, Gallup points out that Obama’s original percentage was higher than just about any president in his first year, with only Dwight Eisenhower coming close at his start (while George W. Bush’s numbers seem to have been buoyed by 9/11):

But it’s in the partisan divides that the numbers are most striking, with Democrats and Republicans differing sharply on who makes our top five:

From the write-up:

Obama is the runaway favorite for Most Admired Man among Democrats nationwide: 46% choose him, followed by 7% who pick Bill Clinton and 5% Nelson Mandela. Obama also leads among independents, with 17%, but ranks second among Republicans behind George W. Bush.

Pretty interesting partisan divide. While you could say that Democrats also fixate on the religious (if a more diverse collection, with the Dalai Lama and the very decisively Christian Jimmy Carter) — the Dem list is mostly people associated with human rights (the aforementioned plus Mandela) and the two most recent Dem presidents, while Republicans focus on traditional religious leaders of the conservative Christian variety, and then throw in the considerable curve ball of Glenn Beck. Just try and explain that (and then hand Rush Limbaugh a puke sack.) Independents seem to split the difference between the partisans, admiring the Democratic and Republican presidents, as well as business titan Bill Gates, and throwing in Billy Graham for good measure.  Gallup notes this on the durability of some people making the top 10:

Also notable is Billy Graham’s 54th appearance in the top 10, nearly double the number of appearances of Ronald Reagan, who has the second-most top 10s, at 31. Jimmy Carter made the top 10 this year after a two-year absence, his 27th appearance, tied with Pope John Paul II for third all-time.

Among women, Hillary Clinton continues to lead the pack. Sorry, Sarah Palin fans, though the rankings remained exactly as they were in 2009. Here’s the chart, sporting three black women, possibly for the first time ever

Also interesting is that despite having higher approval ratings than her husband, Michelle Obama doesn’t do very well in this survey compared to other first ladies:

Clinton has dominated the Most Admired Woman title for most of the past two decades, earning 15 No. 1 rankings since her first appearance on the list in 1992. She joins Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as first ladies whose strong popularity has extended well beyond her husband’s presidency, although, given Clinton’s post-White House political career, perhaps for different reasons.

Historically, first ladies have figured prominently on the list, typically appearing in the top three at some point during their White House tenure. However, they are much less likely than presidents to win the top spot. First ladies who have succeeded in placing first include Clinton, with six No. 1 rankings in Bill Clinton’s two terms as president; Nancy Reagan, who achieved it three times in Ronald Reagan’s two terms; Barbara Bush, who achieved it twice in her husband’s single term; and Rosalynn Carter, who tied for or placed first in three years during her husband’s single term. No first lady has won the top overall ranking since Laura Bush in 2001.

Thus far as first lady, Obama, like Laura Bush for most of her husband’s presidency, has not garnered high mentions as Most Admired Woman. Her single-digit performances on the list since Barack Obama took office are on the low side for other first ladies since Carter at this point in their husband’s first term.

And here’s the chart:

Gallup explains why that might be:

One reason Michelle Obama may not garner higher mentions is that many Democrats, who might otherwise name a Democratic first lady, instead name Hillary Clinton. However, Obama also trails Oprah Winfrey in mentions among Democrats.

And here’s the partisan divide for most admired women (Michelle O doesn’t make the Republican list at all, but Oprah and Palin make both the Republican and indie list):

In some ways, these polls are little more than a name ID contest, so they’re much less significant than the news buzz they create. But they are an interesting window into just who Americans are paying attention to, and how different the political parties really are.

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One Response to Who we admire: Dems pick Obama, Mandela, Dalai Lama; Republicans like Bush, Beck

  1. Why does this poll look so totally bogus? Or is it just me?

    What I’m trying to figure out is how this poll was conducted.

    Were the potentially admirable limited to the political set? No, there’s Oprah and Angelina Jolie. Were the admirable limited to the living? No, there’s Jackie Kennedy.

    Perhaps the possibilites were drawn from the those who were featured in the media. That would make sense. Except I thought Julian Assange had gotten some admiration in some quarters (like the Daniel Ellsberg’s of the world), but he’s not there. Maybe the poll was done before all his recent publicity. But no,
    Ang Sunn Sue Kyi is among the virtuous. And Zuckerberg is Time’s Man of the Year, but he’s not there. It’s all quite confusing.

    America, this is who you admire? America, really?

    “America this is quite serious.
    America this is the impression I get from looking in
    the television set.
    America is this correct?
    I’d better get right down to the job.
    It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes
    in precision parts factories, I’m nearsighted and
    psychopathic anyway.
    America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.” ~Allen Ginsberg, 1956.

    Jesus, Allen, somebody other than Rick Scott better get to work. It’s already half a century since you wrote that. We’re running out of time.

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