‘None’ Beats Obama in Gallup’s ‘Most Admired’ Survey

December 28, 2011 - 3:00 PM
Barack Obama

President Barack Obama after landing at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii on Dec. 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(CNSNews.com) - When asked an open-ended question by Gallup about which man living in the world today they admire most and whom their second choice would be, 32 percent of Americans surveyed this month would not name anyone, thus falling into a category that Gallup describes as "None/No opinion."

President Barack Obama came in second to "None/No opinion" with 17 percent of respondents saying he was either their first or second choice for their most admired man.

Similarly, 29 percent of Americans did not name anyone when asked their first and second choice for their most admired woman.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came in second to "None/No opinion" with 17 percent saying she was either their first or second choice for their most admired woman.

Gallup has been conducting its annual "most admired” survey since 1946. That year and in 1947, the polling company asked respondents to name the person they admired most. Since 1948, Gallup has been asking respondents to name both their most admired man and most admired woman.

The incumbent president of the United States has dominated the male side of the survey, receiving the largest number of mentions in 55 out of 65 annual surveys.

But “None/No opinion” does not always defeat the president as it did this year.

In 2008, "None/No opinion" took 25 percent, bettering outgoing President George W. Bush, who took 5 percent, but not President-elect Obama, who lead the field with 32 percent. In 2009, Obama beat “None/No opinion” again, 30 percent to 25 percent.  In 2010, however, Obama lost to “None/No opinion,” 22 percent to 25 percent.

President George W. Bush managed to beat “None/No opinion” in each of his first three years in office. In 2001, he beat “None/No opinion,” 39 percent to 22 percent. In 2002, he narrowly edged “None/No opinion,” 29 percent to 28 percent. And, in 2003, he beat “None/No opinion,” 29 percent to 25 percent.

In George W. Bush’s second presidential term, “None/No opinion” beat him all four years.

With 32 percent, “None/No opinion” did better in this year’s most-admired poll than it has in any year of the last decade.

In fact, the last time “None/No opinion” cracked 30 percent was in 2000, President Bill Clinton’s last full year in office. That year, “None/No opinion” got 33 percent to Clinton’s 6 percent—a percentage that actually tied Clinton with Pope John Paul II as that year’s most admired man.

In the years since 1988, according to Gallup’s historical polling data, the highest level “None/No opinion” has ever received on the male side of the most-admired survey was 37 percent in 1990. That was during the presidency of George H.W. Bush.

“None/No opinion” managed to stay above 30 percent throughout the senior Bush’s term, hitting 35 percent in 1989, and 34 percent in both 1991 and 1992.

On the female side of the survey, in the years since 1988, “None/No opinion” peaked at 40 percent in 2001. That year, First Lady Laura Bush was ranked the “most admired” woman, having been mentioned by 12 percent of respondents. Former First Lady Hillary Clinton ranked second at 8 percent.

Hillary Clinton has now topped the most admired woman list a record 16 times. However, unlike President Obama or President George W. Bush, Mrs. Clinton has never managed to do better than “None/No opinion.” She came closest in 1998, when she was mentioned by 28 percent and “None/No opinion” took 28 percent. That was within that poll’s +/- 3 percentage-point margin of error.

In an analysis of the most-admired poll published in 2000, Gallup’s Frank Newport speculated that Mrs. Clinton’s 1998 peak in the survey might have been the result of her husband’s impeachment.

“Her high point came in late 1998, when 28% of the public named her as the woman they most admired--perhaps owing to admiration for the way she handled her husband's impeachment scandal, which was unfolding just as that year's survey was being conducted,” wrote Newport.

The Gallup survey asks: “What man [woman] that you have heard or read about, living today in any part of the world, do you admire most? And who is your second choice?”

In this year’s survey, on the male side, 9 percent named a friend or relative, the highest percentage for that category since 1999, when it hit 10 percent.

On the female side, 12 percent named a friend or relative—again, the highest percentage since 1999, when it also hit 12 percent.

For Gallup's complete list of those who topped its "most admired" lists from 1946 through 2010 click here.