WASHINGTON – Another big win for President-elect Barack Obama: He dethroned President George W. Bush as the nation’s most-admired man this year in spectacular fashion.
Obama was named most admired living man by 32 percent of Americans, a figure that Gallup poll analyst Lydia Saad called “extraordinarily high.” The USA Today/Gallup poll was conducted Dec. 12-14 and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Bush topped the most admired man list in 2007 with a 10 percent showing, his seventh straight year on top. He reached as high as 39 percent shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. This month, however, he sank to 5 percent to finish a distant second to his successor.
The number was the latest in a series. Bush’s Gallup job approval rating was 29 percent, and a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey taken Dec. 19-21 and released Friday put the figure at 27 percent. Seventy-five percent said they’re glad that Bush is leaving.
Obama’s showing is hardly surprising: Gallup found that 75 percent approve of his handling of the transition.
Although Obama soared, he didn’t have coattails for his wife, Michelle. She landed in fifth place on the most-admired woman list at 3 percent. Topping that chart was Obama’s onetime political nemesis and now his choice to be secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who’s No. 1 for the seventh straight year.
She had some new competition, however.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican 2008 vice presidential candidate, was a strong second, surging past television host Oprah Winfrey, an early Obama backer who had been the runner-up since 2002.