It’s a tradition among pollsters with Gallup to end the year with a survey of the person Americans most admire. This year, the man to earn that distinction is Barack Obama.
It’s a curious choice, even probably for Obama, for whom 2016 was far and away the worst year of his political career and likely his life. He witnessed the biggest rejection of an incumbent’s political party in nearly a hundred years and will now have the unenviable burden of watching his eight-year legacy as president dismantled a piece at a time, starting with his signature legislative achievement, Obamacare.
Obama can’t really even derive that much pleasure from the Gallup honor in light of the identity of the second-place finisher: his successor, Donald Trump. The numbers separating the two weren’t even all that distant with Trump claiming 15% to Obama’s 22.
If that doesn’t take the luster off the honor, thee fact, according to Gallup, that sitting presidents generally come in first in the voting should.
Others in the top 10 included Pope Francis in third place and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in fourth, followed by the Rev. Billy Graham in fifth. Bill Clinton tied for sixth place with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Dalai Lama and Bill Gates, while Vice President-elect Mike Pence came in 10th.
Asked to name the woman they most admire, 12 percent of Americans polled by Gallup chose Hillary Clinton, who has come in first in the poll 21 times, a record. First lady Michelle Obama came in second, at 8 percent.
Others in the top 10 included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Queen Elizabeth, human rights advocate Malala Yousafzai, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.