WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans are most likely to name President Donald Trump and Michelle Obama as most admired man and woman in 2020. Trump tied former President Barack Obama for the honor last year but edged out his predecessor this year. Trump’s first-place finish ends a 12-year run as most admired man for Obama, tied with Dwight Eisenhower for the most ever.
Meanwhile, Michelle Obama ranks as most admired woman for the third year in a row. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is second.
Most Admired Man
The incumbent president is usually top of mind when Gallup asks Americans to name, without prompting, which man living anywhere in the world they admire most. In the 74 times Gallup has asked the open-ended most admired man question since 1946, the incumbent president has topped the list 60 times. Harry Truman (1946-1947 and 1950-1952), Lyndon Johnson (1967-1968), Richard Nixon (1973), Gerald Ford (1974-1975), Jimmy Carter (1980), George W. Bush (2008) and Trump (2017-2018) are the incumbent presidents who did not finish first in past years.
When the sitting president is not the top choice, it is usually because he is unpopular politically. That was the case in 2017 and 2018 when Trump had 36% and 40% approval ratings, respectively, and finished second to Obama as most admired man.
Even though Trump is similarly unpopular now — 39% approve of his performance — his dominant performance among Republicans, contrasted with Democrats splitting their choices among multiple public figures, pushes him to the top of the 2020 most admired man list.
- Forty-eight percent of Republicans name Trump this year, with no other public figure receiving more than 2% of Republicans’ votes.
- Obama is the top choice among Democrats, at 32%, but that is down from 41% last year. President-elect Joe Biden (13%) is also commonly named by Democrats.
- Additionally, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is named by 5% of Democrats but only 1% of Republicans, further contributing to Democrats’ relative dispersion of choices.
- Independents are evenly split between Trump (11%) and Obama (11%), with another 3% naming Biden and 2% Fauci.
Overall, 18% of Americans name Trump, 15% name Obama, 6% Biden and 3% Fauci. The remaining top 10 men include Pope Francis, businessman Elon Musk, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, basketball player LeBron James, and the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists.