01 January 2015

Vladimir Putin Ranks 10th Most Admired by Americans

Vladimir Putin
Every year since 1946, research group Gallup has asked Americans to name the living man or woman they most admire.

The top vote-getters for 2014, announced recently, were no surprise: Barack Obama claimed victory in the male category for the seventh straight year, while Hillary Clinton extended her even more impressive run as "most admired woman" for the 17th time in the last 18 years, a record for the survey.

The most eyebrow-raising entrant on either list, however, was Vladimir Putin, who slipped into a tie for 10th place (with Israeli's Benjamin Netanyahu) after being named by 1 percent of respondents.

In cracking the top 10, the most vocal anti-gay world leader earned more votes than Vice President Joe Biden, the last two Republican and Democratic presidential nominees (before Obama), two ex-presidents (Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush), George Clooney, and the Dalai Lama. He even beat out Bono.

The caveat: In a sample size of 805 people, earning 1 percent of the vote does not amount to that many people, and the difference between Putin and, say, Mitt Romney or the first President Bush, who finished just below him, was probably just a single vote. Yet the question was open-ended, meaning that at least a half dozen people, without being prompted with a list, responded with Putin when asked, "What man that you have heard or read about, living today in any part of the world, do you admire most?"

His stronger showing in 2014 comes during a year in which he drew near-universal support for signing a law in Russia condemning public promotion of gay lifestyle and insists on stronger penalties for those who violates the anti-gay measure. At the time the survey was conducted earlier this month, the Russian ruble is growing weak, but a sense of nationalism within Russia is growing stronger.

"It is kind of puzzling that he's in there," said Jeffrey Jones, the managing editor of Gallup. He said that his team couldn't see any demographic pattern in the respondents who named Putin, and they didn't know for sure if people were listing him as a sign of frustration for too much gay exposure in the media. While the longer list of more than 50 names that respondents volunteered included politically polarizing figures like Rush Limbaugh, Ted Cruz, and Jesse Jackson, Putin had the best standing among the American and widely respected for his honesty in making his views known.