Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers tops Santa Claus in popularity points
For those who wonder just how powerful sports has become in the American psyche, take heart from the latest polling results that show two figures surpass -- albeit barely -- the favorability rating of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ edge out Rodgers, a feat that could not be accomplished by the likes of George Washington, Mother Theresa, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and even Santa Claus.
In fact, an astounding 13% of Americans said they have a negative opinion of Santa Claus, the mythic figure who does nothing more horrible than drop off presents once a year. To be fair, 67%, or almost two-thirds, said they have a positive opinion of the fat bearded one, according to Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-affiliated polling firm, which released the survey findings Thursday.
The polling firm found that 75% of Republicans gave Santa Claus good marks, while just 61% of Democrats backed the gift-giver. (It may be worth noting that, as outsiders, Republicans are hoping for a present-filled 2012 election cycle, with most national polls showing a steady disenchantment with how the country is doing, particularly on the economy. Thus, Democrats may be expecting stockings stuffed with coal or perhaps an alternative energy source, like solar power.)
The firm said it undertook the current poll after it found that Rodgers was viewed favorably by 89% of voters in Wisconsin, a record high in the agency’s polling. “It got us to wondering -- can anyone top that?” the firm said in a statement.
So it tested a bunch of leading personalities last weekend.
Lincoln, who freed the slaves while fighting to keep the United States together in the Civil War, was seen positively by 91% of Americans, compared to only 2% who had an unfavorable opinion. Jesus Christ came in with a 90% favorability rating, but 3% of voters saw him in a negative light.
Two other figures beat the 80% favorability mark: George Washington, the general who earned the title of “Father of his country,” at 86% and Mother Teresa, the late humanitarian who tended the sick and dying in India for more than four decades and who is on her way to becoming a Roman Catholic saint. She rated an 83% favorability score.
The poll was based on 800 people surveyed from Nov. 10 to Sunday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Perhaps not so surprising was the top answer.
When asked, “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of yourself,” 93% gave themselves a positive rating, compared to just 1% who had a negative opinion, proving the old adage that the person to trust the most is yourself.
-- Michael Muskal
Photo: The Green Bay Packers, led by QB Aaron Rodgers, No. 12, huddle on the field. Credit: Matt Ludtke / Associated Press