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Despite Hard Year, Obama Remains Most Admired

President Barack Obama remains the man Americans admire the most, despite a tough year that saw stagnant approval ratings and a big mid-term defeat.

Nineteen percent of Americans told Gallup in its annual year-end poll that Obama is either their first or second-most admired man, well ahead of Pope Francis, who finished second with six percent. It’s the seventh consecutive year that Obama has held the top spot, and marks a slight improvement from 2013, when Obama was named as a most-admired man by 16 percent of those polled. That’s still a significant drop from the heady days of 2008 and 2009, when over 30 percent of the public named Obama as a most-admired man.

Obama’s victory is unsurprising, as the most-admired man is nearly always the sitting president. George W. Bush won every year except for 2008 (when the newly-elected Obama unseated him), and Bill Clinton won every year of his presidency. The last most-admired man to have never been elected president was Pope John Paul II, who took the top spot in 1980.

No men besides Obama and Francis finished above 5 percent, but other top-ten finishers included both Clinton and Bush as well as the Rev. Billy Graham, Ben Carson, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Bill O’Reilly, Benjamin Netanyahu and Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, the leading contender to succeed Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is the country’s most-admired woman for the thirteenth year in a row, getting 12 percent support and beating second-place Oprah Winfrey by four percent. Clinton has held the post for 19 of the last 22 years, with her streak only broken by Laura Bush in 2001 and Mother Theresa in 1995-6. However, her 2014 win is her narrowest victory margin since 2007, when she beat Winfrey by only two percent.

Gallup’s poll was conducted from Dec. 8-11 and had a sample size of 805 adults. The margin of error was +/- 4 percentage points.

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