According to this year's annual USA Today/Gallup poll, the living man who Americans admire most is Barack Obama, who was named by 32% of respondents.
That doesn't surprise me too much. What does surprise me is that George W. Bush came in second, named by 5% of respondents.
It turns out that GWB has come in first in the annual survey for the past seven years. A Gallup article about last year's survey explains that "the sitting president has been the most admired man every year since 1981, and in 50 of the 61 times the question has been asked overall."
I was a little surprised by that, too, until I noticed that the pollsters don't prompt respondents with suggestions, and that the percentages for this year's top six men (three-way tie for fourth place) add up to only 46%. (Percentages for this year's top five women also add up to under 50%.) So I suspect that an awful lot of respondents say things like "My father" or "Mr. Gryzbowski who owns the corner grocery store"; but if less than about 20 people in the 1000-person survey name a given person, that person won't make the top-5 list.
Still, I'm a little surprised to see politicians and religious figures feature so prominently. I would have expected the top spots to include some musicians or actors, maybe news (or fake-news) anchors, maybe athletes (especially in an Olympic year), and so on. But I guess in those areas the field is again too wide--even if half the respondents named an actor, they would probably all pick different actors.
Hillary Clinton tops the most-admired-woman list, as she's done in 13 of the past 16 years; this year, Sarah Palin came in second. Interesting to see that three of the top five women this year are black: Oprah, Condoleeza Rice, and Michelle Obama. Oprah and Rice were both in the top three last year. Oh, interesting: last year Angelina Jolie came in fourth. And Benazir Bhutto and Maya Angelou were both in last year's top ten.
Anyway, on this particular pair of questions I'm more interested in personal and individual choices than in the polling aggregate. So: what man living today do you admire most? What woman living today do you admire most? And, for both, why? (Skip any questions you don't want to answer.)
I realize I've unfairly seeded the ground with suggestions in the above, so this isn't unprompted. Then again, it's an Internet survey, so it's not scientifically valid anyway.
Three clarifying notes: (1) it's fine for you to put one of the people who made the top of the poll; (2) I welcome responses from anyone in the world, not just Americans; (3) you can name people from anywhere in the world. (But they do have to be alive.)