Obama, Hillary Clinton top poll of most admired persons

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : President-elect Barack Obama has topped Gallup’s poll of the most admired man to become the first person in over a half century to do so before taking America’s highest office.

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Thirty-two percent of Americans surveyed in the new USA Today/Gallup poll said Obama was the man they most admired – a better showing than either former presidents George H.W. Bush or Bill Clinton ever achieved.

The last president-elect to top the list was Dwight Eisenhower, in 1952.

President George W. Bush, who was named the most-admired man by 39 percent of those polled shortly after Sep 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, falls to a distant second, at 5 percent – the first time since his election that he has not topped the poll.

America’s most-admired woman for the seventh straight year is Obama’s secretary of state-designate Hillary Clinton, named by one in five Americans. Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, a newcomer to the list, is second with 11 percent.

Rounding out the list of most-admired women living today are Oprah Winfrey in the third-place spot, current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in fourth place, and future first lady Michelle Obama, in fifth place with 3 percent.

The survey was conducted Dec 12-14, and is based on interviews with 1,008 Americans. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

Meanwhile, another new poll suggests that three out of four Americans feel that Bush’s impending departure from the White House in three-and-a-half weeks is coming not a moment too soon.

Seventy-five percent of those questioned in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they’re glad President Bush is going, with 23 percent indicating they’ll miss him.

The three-quarters of Americans surveyed who say they won’t miss Bush is 24 points higher than the 51 percent who said they wouldn’t miss Bill Clinton when he left office in January 2001. Forty-five percent of those questioned at that time said they would miss Clinton.

The poll indicates that Bush has been compared poorly to his predecessors, with 28 percent saying that he’s the worst ever when compared to other presidents in American history. Forty percent rate Bush as poor and 31 percent feel he’s been a good president.

Only a third of those polled want Bush to remain active in public life after he leaves the White House, with two-thirds saying they don’t want him to stay active in a public way. That 33 percent figure who want Bush to remain in the public eye is 22 points lower than those questioned in 2001 who wanted Bill Clinton to retain a public role.

When running for the White House in the 2000 presidential campaign, Bush promised to be a uniter, not a divider. But the poll suggests that 82 percent feel that Bush did not unite the country, with 17 percent saying he did.

Only 27 percent of those questioned in the poll approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president, with 72 percent in disapproval.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Dec 19-21, with 1,013 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.