One of the most annoying polling stories of the year is Gallup’s Most Admired poll, since it asks 1,000 Americans who they admire, and offers no menu of choices. Here’s the CNN.com headline this year: “Gallup: Obama, Hillary Clinton remain most admired.” CNN pairs that with a video on “President Obama’s Best Speech Moments.”
CNN's Eli Watkins began: “Former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remain the most admired man and woman in the United States -- a 10-year trend for Obama and 16 years running for Clinton.” He later added: “Clinton has topped the list 16 years running and taken the top spot 22 times total, which Gallup said was more than anyone else -- man or woman.”
But does that mean Hillary is popular? Even Watkins reported Hillary “won” this poll with just nine percent of respondents stating her name. Now let’s look at the same Gallup polling organization, earlier this month: “Her favorable rating has fallen five percentage points since June to a new low of 36%, while her unfavorable rating has hit a new high of 61%.”
So 61 percent disapprove of America’s “Most Admired” Woman? None of the media stories on that Gallup poll would put two and two (or nine percent and 61 percent) together. A number of papers ran a brief story by Bloomberg News that didn't combine them.
CNN early-morning anchor Dave Briggs offered this summary on Thursday:
BRIGGS: A new poll on America's most-admired person, likely to aggravate President Trump a bit this morning, but maybe not as much as last year. For the 10th year in a row, President Obama is the most- admired person. Fourteen percent of those polled name President Trump.
The good news for the president? Well, it narrows from seven points last year to three this year.
When it comes to the most-admired woman, though, Hillary Clinton remains in the top spot for the 16th year running. Michelle Obama comes in at second place at seven percent. The highest-ranking Republican women, Condoleezza Rice and Ambassador Nikki Haley, both receiving one percent of the votes.
MSNBC's Ari Melber touted the poll twice as happy news for Democrats on Wednesday night, first on his show The Beat and then later, this as he subbed on The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell:
MELBER: What about his other achievement as the most unpopular president in the history of national polling? Well, according to a new Gallup poll, there's insult on top of injury because Americans in a separate question apart from approval have also separately named President Barack Obama today as the most admired man. This is the tenth time he's gotten that honor.
Obama also won all eight years president and 2008, of course, when it was coming into the office. This also marks the first time since 2008 -- ouch, Donald Trump! -- a sitting president didn't top the list.
And here's another little factoid. Americans voted Hillary Clinton the most admired woman for the 16th year in a row, because maybe people and not the Electoral College are involved in this particular poll.
It even arrived as happy news for Democrats on Fox's Tucker Carlson Tonight, where Hillary adviser Richard Goodstein announced to substitute host Mark Steyn: “Mark, can I just say, you introduced me the Hillary person. It must have hurt when the Gallup Poll said again that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the most admired men and women in the world.”
Steyn shot back: “If only the electoral college included the jungles of Papua New Guinea, she'd be sitting in the Oval Office today.” But the open-ended question was asked only to 1,049 Americans, and no one else, from December 4 to 11.
For years, liberals have used these polls to burnish Democrats. As Brent Bozell and I reported in our 2007 book Whitewash: What the Media Won't Tell You About Hillary Clinton, But Conservatives Will:
NBC's Andrea Mitchell broke out the fairy-tale tone again on January 3, 2001, for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's swearing-in. "For this political wife, friends say, a dream come true," Mitchell proclaimed. "Today he holds the Bible for her, trading places from when they first came to Washington eight years ago. From the health care fiasco to the Monica humiliation to the campaign many said she would never win, Hillary Clinton is now the most admired woman in America, beating Oprah by a landslide in the latest Gallup poll."
Mitchell was getting carried away here. First, Bill Clinton didn't hold the Bible for her at the actual swearing-in, where he was banished to the gallery because he was not a senator. The Bill-holding-the-Bible moment was for a swearing-ceremony staged by a photographer. More significant, the most-admired-woman-in-America Hillary garnered only 19 percent in the Gallup poll. And it wasn't too hard to beat Oprah, who got only 4 percent. It was more a measure of fame (and perhaps great devotion on the left end of the political spectrum) than favorability.
It was also probably true that Hillary Clinton was the most hated woman in America. Gallup's Frank Newport told CNN that day that while 82 percent of Democrats liked her, 70 percent of Republicans disapproved. No network coverage there.