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Obama, Trump Tie as Most Admired Man in 2019

Obama, Trump Tie as Most Admired Man in 2019

Story Highlights

  • Trump's percentage improves, ties Barack Obama's
  • Barack Obama has record-tying 12th first-place finish
  • Michelle Obama most admired woman for second year in a row

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Barack Obama and Donald Trump are tied this year as the most admired man. It is Obama's 12th time in the top spot versus the first for Trump. Michelle Obama is the most admired woman for the second year in a row.

Each year since 1948, Gallup has asked Americans to name, in an open-ended fashion, which man and woman living anywhere in the world they admire most. This year's results are based on a Dec. 2-15 poll.

Americans' choice for most admired man this year is sharply divided along party lines: 41% of Democrats name Obama, while 45% of Republicans choose Trump. Relatively few Democrats choose Trump and relatively few Republicans pick Obama, while independents' choices are divided about equally between the two men.

Most Admired Man, 2019, Overall and by Party
What man that you have heard or read about, living today in any part of the world, do you admire most?
U.S. adults Democrats Independents Republicans
% % % %
Barack Obama 18 41 12 3
Donald Trump 18 2 10 45

After Obama and Trump, no other man was mentioned by more than 2% of respondents. The remainder of the top 10 for men this year includes former President Jimmy Carter, businessman Elon Musk, philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Pope Francis, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, California Rep. Adam Schiff, the Dalai Lama, and investor Warren Buffett.

Eleven percent of Americans named a relative or friend as the man they admire most; 18% named some other living man; and 25% did not name anyone.

The incumbent president has typically been Americans' choice as the most admired man, having earned the distinction in 58 of the 72 prior Gallup polls. When the incumbent president is not the choice, it is usually because he is unpopular politically, which was the case for Trump in 2017 (36% approval rating) and 2018 (40%).

Trump is more popular now than he was in the past two years, with a 45% job approval rating, among his best as president. Coincident with the rise in his job approval rating, the 18% of Americans currently naming Trump as the most admired man is also up, from 13% in 2018 and 14% in 2017. Increased mentions of Trump as the most admired man have come almost exclusively among his fellow Republicans -- 32% of Republicans named Trump in 2018 and 35% did so in 2017.

Obama's 18% mentions among U.S. adults as the most admired man are in line with his 2018 (19%) and 2017 (17%) figures, all of which are high for a former president. Dwight Eisenhower is the only other former president who received double-digit mentions at any point after leaving office.

The post-presidency popularity for Obama and Eisenhower allowed each to finish first a record 12 times. Each man was named most admired man in the year he was elected president and all eight years he was in office, plus three additional years. Obama has finished first during the first three years after he left office, while Eisenhower won once before he ran for president (1950) and twice after leaving office (1967 and 1968).

Michelle Obama Only Woman in Double Digits

Historically, it has been more common for a former first lady to be named the most admired woman than for a former president to be named most admired man. Michelle Obama is the sixth former first lady to win, along with Eleanor Roosevelt (1948-1950 and 1952-1961), Jacqueline Kennedy (1963-1966), Mamie Eisenhower (1969-1970), Betty Ford (1978) and Hillary Clinton (2002-2017).

The 10% naming Obama this year is down from 15% last year. The 2018 poll was conducted shortly after she released her bestselling autobiography.

Current first lady Melania Trump finished second this year, mentioned by 5%, with former talk show host Oprah Winfrey, Clinton and teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg named by 3% of U.S. adults each. The remainder of the top 10 for women includes Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

Queen Elizabeth finished in the top 10 for the 51st time, more than any other woman. Winfrey (32 times) and Clinton (28) have also made regular appearances in the top 10. The Rev. Billy Graham has the most top 10 finishes for either gender: a total of 61 between 1955 and 2017 before his death last year.

Most Top 10 Finishes, Gallup Most Admired Poll
Top 10 finishes
Most Admired Woman
Queen Elizabeth II 51
Margaret Thatcher 34
Oprah Winfrey 32
Hillary Clinton 28
Jacqueline Kennedy 28
Mamie Eisenhower 21
Barbara Bush 20
Margaret Chase Smith 20
Nancy Reagan 19
Mother Teresa 18
Clare Boothe Luce 18
Most Admired Man
Billy Graham 61
Ronald Reagan 31
Jimmy Carter 29
Pope John Paul II 27
Bill Clinton 26
Dwight Eisenhower 21
Richard Nixon 21
George H.W. Bush 20
Harry Truman 20
Nelson Mandela 20
Bill Gates 20

Sixteen percent of U.S. adults said they admire a female relative or friend most, while 21% mentioned another woman (outside the top 10) and 27% did not have an opinion.

As with the most admired man list, there are party differences in choice of most admired woman, though not to the same extreme. Michelle Obama was the choice of 23% of Democrats, 7% of independents and 2% of Republicans. Melania Trump was the top vote-getter among Republicans, at 11%.


Trump's popularity grew enough this year to allow him to tie Barack Obama as the most admired man, but not to end Obama's streak of 12 first-place finishes. The results reflect the significant party divide in the U.S., with Republicans overwhelmingly naming Trump and Democrats Obama, and few other men garnering significant mention.

Meanwhile, Obama's wife Michelle has been named as the most admired woman the past two years after 25 years that saw Hillary Clinton finish first 22 times. In fact, Obama has had stronger finishes in the past two years than during her eight years as first lady, when no more than 8% of Americans named her.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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