Admiration For Hillary Clinton Surges In 1998

by Lydia Saad

President Clinton Remains "Most Admired Man"


A new Gallup Poll produces two different rankings of public figures in the news and around the world. One is based on Americans' top-of-mind choices for the man and woman they most admire. The other is based on separate ratings of thirty prominent newsmakers of 1998.

First Couple is "Most Admired"
Once again, Bill and Hillary Clinton are cited in Gallup's year-end poll as the most admired man and woman "living today in any part of the world." President Clinton has been Americans' top choice for most admired man all six years of his presidency. Hillary Rodham Clinton has held the number one position intermittently, running behind or even with Mother Teresa on a few occasions.

This year, neither the President nor the First Lady has any strong competition for Americans' choice as the man and woman they most admire. The number of Americans citing Hillary Clinton in Gallup's Most Admired poll doubled in the past year, from 14% last December to 28% today. She is trailed by Oprah Winfrey—mentioned by 8% of Americans. Elizabeth Dole, Margaret Thatcher and Barbara Bush complete list of the five most admired women of 1998.

The percentage of Americans naming Bill Clinton as most admired—18%—is consistent with the percentage naming him in previous years. Pope John Paul II, in second place, is mentioned this year by 7%. The Reverend Billy Graham, basketball superstar Michael Jordan, and astronaut-Senator John Glenn round out the top five men. This marks Rev. Graham's 35th consecutive appearance on Gallup's Most Admired list.

Historically speaking, the choice of the President and First Lady by Americans is not unusual. In the six decades Gallup has run the Most Admired survey, the sitting president is nearly always chosen as the top man, while the top woman is very often the First Lady. The few exceptions to the president pattern occurred when the job approval rating of the sitting president fell below 50%. Some examples of this include Jimmy Carter in 1980, Richard Nixon in 1974, and Lyndon Johnson in 1967. Bill Clinton's job approval rating has been above 60% for most of 1998 and reached 73% in a Gallup Poll taken earlier this month.

McGwire and Pope Most Popular Newsmakers of the Year
Gallup's Most Admired question is an open-ended measure, based upon the unprompted recall of survey respondents. However, Gallup also asked survey respondents to give their individual opinions of thirty prominent names and faces in the news this year.

Based on this question, Bill and Hillary Clinton rank in the middle of the pack while two "Cardinals" receive the highest favorable ratings: St. Louis slugger Mark McGwire, with 87%, and Pope John Paul II, with 86%. Two other newsmakers that are nearly as high are John Glenn and 1998 baseball MVP Sammy Sosa. Both men are viewed favorably by more than four in five Americans.

The four least liked news figures of 1998 include a foreign leader and three women linked to Bill Clinton. Iraqi president Saddam Hussein is viewed favorably by only 1% of Americans and unfavorably by 96%. The next least popular figure of 1998 is Monica Lewinsky, with 11% favorable and 82% unfavorable ratings. Linda Tripp and Paula Jones follow close behind.

In addition to the reviled four, newsmakers whose unfavorable score is higher than their favorable score include Ken Starr, Kathleen Willey, Newt Gingrich, Yassar Arafat and Jack Kevorkian.

Other Favorably Viewed Figures
Following the eclectic quartet at the top of the list, a large group of 1998 newsmakers enjoy favorable ratings above 50%. This includes several of the more prominent members of government—Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Janet Reno, Alan Greenspan, and Madeleine Albright—as well as First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Great Britain's political leaders also fall into this positive category—including Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prince Charles, and Queen Elizabeth.

Others rated favorably by half to two-thirds of Americans are Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, TV actor Jerry Seinfeld, and the Governor-elect of Minnesota, Jesse "the body" Ventura.

Dick Gephardt, Trent Lott, Henry Hyde, and Benjamin Netanyahu all have net favorable ratings, but due to high unfavorable scores and/or high levels of "no opinion" for them, none of them receives a favorable score above 50%.

Survey Methods
The results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,055 adults, 18 years and older, conducted December 28-29, 1998. For results based on samples of this size, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects could be as much as plus or minus 3 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

What man 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?

Top Ten Most Admired Men Mentions
1. Bill Clinton 18%
2. Pope John Paul II 7%
3. Billy Graham 5%
4. Michael Jordan 4%
5. John Glenn 3%
6. Colin Powell 3%
7. Ronald Reagan 3%
8. George Bush 3%
9. (tie) Nelson Mandela 2%
9. (tie) Bill Gates 2%

What 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?

Top Ten Most Admired Women Mentions
1. Hillary Clinton 28%
2. Oprah Winfrey 8%
3. Elizabeth Dole 6%
4. Margaret Thatcher 4%
5. Barbara Bush 3%
6. Madeleine Albright 3%
7. Maya Angelou 2%
8. Queen Elizabeth 1%
9. Janet Reno 1%
9. Monica Lewinsky 1%

Next I'd like to get your overall opinion of some people who were in the news this year. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of this person, or if you have never heard of him or her.

  Favorable Unfavorable No Opinion
1. Mark McGwire 87% 3% 10%
2. Pope John Paul II 86% 8% 3%
3. Sammy Sosa 83% 2% 15%
4. John Glenn 83% 7% 10%
5. Queen Elizabeth 68% 21% 11%
6. Hillary Rodham Clinton 67% 29% 4%
7. Bill Gates 66% 16% 8%
8. Madeleine Albright 64% 14% 22%
9. Jerry Seinfield 63% 23% 14%
10. Tony Blair 58% 8% 34%
11. Alan Greenspan 57% 9% 34%
12. Al Gore 57% 28% 15%
13. Janet Reno 57% 29% 14%
14. Bill Clinton 56% 42% 2%
15. Prince Charles 54% 35% 11%
16. Jesse Ventura 53% 14% 33%
17. Boris Yeltsin 47% 35% 18%
18. Benjamin Netanyahu 46% 20% 34%
19. Dick Gephardt 46% 22% 32%
20. Jack Kevorkian 40% 47% 13%
21. Newt Gingrich 38% 51% 11%
22. Yassar Arafat 35% 45% 20%
23. Ken Starr 32% 58% 10%
24. Henry Hyde 31% 29% 40%
25. Trent Lott 29% 25% 46%
27. Paula Jones 16% 72% 12%
28. Linda Tripp 11% 75% 14%
29. Monica Lewinsky 11% 82% 7%
30. Saddam Hussein 1% 96% 3%
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