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What a match-up! America's new most-admired women -- Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton

Democrat Hillary Clinton, left, and Republican Sarah Palin, right

At the end of the 21st century's first decade, Americans have decided on the women they admire the most -- and their picks might surprise some. (Although probably not if they're looking at these photos.)

One is a woman who once lived in the White House -- Hillary Rodham Clinton. And the other is a woman suspected of harboring ambitions of living there someday -- Sarah Palin.

A Democrat and a Republican. A former senator and a former governor. Two polarizing politicians, both moms, both bestselling authors, both lost their bids for one of the nation's top elected offices last year.

Are American voters dropping a hint here?

According to a new survey just released by USA Today and the Gallup Poll, the 62-year-old Clinton barely beat out the 45-year-old Palin as the most admired female -- 16% to 15% in a poll of 1,025 adult Americans.

However, because the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, it's statistically a P-C draw. The survey was ...

... open-ended, meaning men and women respondents had to provide the names by themselves.

Not that public admiration necessarily translates to votes. But the results have to set off any political spectator's eager imagination about a future presidential ballot match-up between the pair whoHillary Clinton Book Cover, though politically polar opposites, are both outspoken, both often underestimated and both beloved by their respective bases.

Clinton's 17 straight years as most- or second-most-admired woman is unprecedented since Gallup began asking the question in 1948 (when presidential daughter Margaret Truman and then-Princess, now Queen Elizabeth II were in the top 10.)

Clinton first headed the list in 1993 as the new first lady in the White House.

And she remained highly admired as first lady throughout the public and private turmoils of her husband's two terms, then as a senator from New York and now as the nation's 67th secretary of State, only the third woman to hold the post.

All this despite  -- or actually perhaps because of -- her brutal, toe-to-toe, sometimes bitter Democratic presidential primary contests against Barack Obama in 2008.

Palin, on the other hand, burst onto the national political scene -- and this year's list -- thanks to Sen. John McCain plucking her from the political obscurity of the Alaskan permafrost as his 2008 running mate and the first woman on a presidential ticket of the party of Lincoln.

The latest new first lady, Michelle Obama, trailed on this year's most-admired-women list.

She ended up baSarah Palin Book Coverck at No. 4. As The Ticket reported here Monday, in a separate poll, Mrs. Obama is also mirroring her husband's plunge in approval ratings. From November to December, her approval numbers dropped seven points, down to 55, still higher than the president's.

(On the other hand, the favorable ratings of the equally unemployed Palin have risen into the 40s now.)

Just ahead of Mrs. O in the poll's third place was another Illinois African American female, who helped get the Obamas into the White House: the billionaire businesswoman and TV talker Oprah Winfrey.

Predictably, among admired males, the incumbent president easily tops the list as usual. This year, he was followed by, less predictably, his immediate predecessor, Republican ex-President George W. Bush, and then by former South African leader Nelson Mandela.

Someone named Glenn Beck -- completely unknown to us here in the predictably liberal, MSNBC-watching and indubitably elite media -- is the No. 4 most-admired male, despite -- or perhaps because of -- his 1950s haircut.

Pope Benedict XVI is fifth and the Rev. Billy Graham is No. 6, putting him in the top 10 most admired males for the 54th consecutive year. The Rev. Al Sharpton did not make the top 10 cut. Neither did David Letterman.

However, just squeaking into the top 10 males most admired by Americans is Democratic ex-President Bill Clinton. Well, actually, he tied for 10th place with the notorious cellphone texter Tiger Woods.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credits: Reuters, Associated Press.

Comments () | Archives (132)

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How totally unfair to Michelle. The American Association of Bondage belt manufacturers recently named her woman of the Century!

I don't know why this would surprise anyone. What other women in government can most people even name?

Hillary Clinton? The Arkansas Trailer-Park Trash Hillary? You people must be on drugs. What a piece of crap.

Clinton and Palin most admired, and Pelosi most despised.

Good for Glenn Beck who is number 1 in my book.


Why isn't Glenn Beck's name in bold-face like everyone else?

This illustrates how intellectually lazy and misguided the American population is. Neither Palin nor Clinton have done anything of substance to help the United States move ahead. The concept of "most popular gets to lead us" will continue to drag the country down until people wake up and start electing leaders based on qualifications rather than "fluff."

Now let the liberals go crazy. You keep trying to get rid of her but she won't go away, like well a liberal (I was gonna say roach but let's face it one in the same). Now go crazy you zany liberals.

Expect to see Sarah Palin's numbers rise and Michelle Obama's fall even more. I think it is telling that Hillary Clinton's numbers are high. To me it shows the nation wants an independent woman (arguably both Palin and Clinton as well as Oprah are).

The poll also shows that while people didn't necessarily like the Bush politics, they did relate to the man. Just like they relate to Obama on a personal level (he is charismatic). I also find it telling that Glenn Beck, Pope Benedict XVI and Billy Graham are on the list above Clinton and Woods and the Rev. Al can't even make the list. Seems that most of the respondents are probably conservative in thinking.

It's amazing that Clinton, who owes everything to her husband's achievements and popularity, shows up on the list.

Hillary is just as much of a Marxist/socialist big govt wealth re-distributor as the now infamous wanna be dictator Barry Soetoro Hussein Obama. Sarah is the real thing whether you like her or not. And the juvenile remark about Glenn Beck's haircut shows you where the left wing is really at.

Sarah has survived the full court press and made the lay-up with the American people - and she's done it with style! Katie Couric and Hillary Clinton just make her look prettier!!

"Hillary Clinton's 17 straight years as most- or second-most-admired woman is unprecedented since Gallup began asking the question in 1948 (when presidential daughter Margaret Truman and then-Princess, now Queen Elizabeth II were in the top ten.)"

Wouldn't it be natural for the reporter to tell us who was Number 1 in 1948, since they brought it up? It was apparently Eleanor Roosevelt, the president's wife, followed in 1949 by Bess Truman, the president's wife.

So my point is that Hillary Clinton has dominated the poll for so long just because she was the president's wife for eight years? No. She has dominated the poll for so long because the poll is fatuous:

1990 Cher
1995 Whitney Houston
1996 Barbra Streisand
1998 Monica Lewinsky

It is good that two talented women, one who works for an idiot and one who campagined with one; both who were or are now being reduced to adornments by those idiots; and both of whom could do the job of their "masters" better are recognized. A Clinton Palin or Palin Clinton ticket in 2012 would be awsome especially if the congress was fired in mass and replaced with people interested in the USA instead of their own pocket book. "If you're in you're out" should be our (the citizens) motto in 2010 & 2012.

This poll is a joke! Are you telling me that Hillary Clinton is one of the most admired women in the USA? Haaaaaahahahahah!

hillary robbem klipem? How soon we forget.

GO SARAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

hillary clinton is nothing more than an opportunist. and one of the worse kinds. one who leaches off the general public. she has done nothing in her new job to help america grow and be safe. its all about her fame and her fortune. the fact here that americans are so easily deceived is very disheartening.

I would vote for either one as President, Clinton or Palin.

It is funny that the women mentioned are quite different. One gives up power to serve a greater cause. One exchanges favors for debt relief an an appearance of power internationally. The later allows multiple entry visas to children of Nigerian bankers. (Even when warned directly by his Dad.)

Go Sarah!

Why not our Michelle be represented!

Palin makes me gag.

Boy talk about a bitter news bite to the loony liberals on the left. After all the efforts they've expended trying to tear down Sarah, she's more popular then ever. I for one would love to see a showdown between Sarah and Hillary, it would make for awesome reality TV. My prediction? Sarah would win in a landslide victory.

Sarah Palin has said many times:

I don’t deny that climate change is real. In creating a sub-cabinet to deal specifically with the issue, I said that “Alaska’s climate change strategy must be built on sound science and the best available facts and must recognize Alaska’s interest in economic growth and the development of its resources.” That goal made sense to me then, and it makes sense to me now.
As governor of Alaska, I sought common-sense solutions that took real-world costs and benefits into account. That’s what I’m looking for now. But that’s not what’s on the table in Washington or in Copenhagen.

Sarah is right about drilling for oil and natural gas. She advocates using all our energy sources to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

America must use all of its energy sources to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We spend $700 billion per year buying oil from foreign countries that use our dependence on their oil to blackmail us. We have over 100 years supply of natural gas and millions of gallons of oil onshore and offshore that we can use until other energy sources like wind, solar, corn, sugar cane, switch grass, seaweed, biomass, etc., are perfected and become marketable alternatives to oil.

Why would anyone admire Clinton? She has a habit of capitulating to those who do her harm such as her husband and the little boy who defeated her in the primary. She'd do the same if she were POTUS with the country. What's to admire about this kiss-up woman? She's got no guts.

An American and yet another Communist tyrant. Palin believes in the Founding of the country and the greatness of our nation. Can't say the same for the Communist tyrant whose only motivation seems to be that of acquiring personal power. How tiring.


As just a "nobody", I can just imagine the twisting and turning and tongue biting that must be going on in the lalaland of elitism. We have awakened, finally. Let us hope we do better than we have these past twenty years!!

yay Hillary!!

and PS she is not polarizing, lol! that was a label the Lamestream media and Team Obama threw on her. Millions of Americans support her

Hill is on top of the DC Obama team approval list also, came in just behind Gates

Yay Hillary!!

and Yay Sarah too!

I think both of them are fabulous!

I know who Sarah Palin is. But, WHO'S the other one? Hillary Clinton? That name sounds familiar. What's she doing these days? And don't say that she's the Sec. of State. If she was, you'd be seeing her in the papers. You'd be hearing about all of her overseas missions. So, stop with the Sec. State stories.
I'm serious. What's Hillary been doing with herself these days? And why would anyone admire her?

I do not understand why Hillary was ever the most admired woman, I guess just because she is visible to most, and more liberal than most, so, she is the most admired. I am no fan of Sarah Palin, but I think if anyone should admire a female politician, Sarah Palin should definitely be ahead of Mrs. Clinton. I think people need to stop and really think about what these people have done. What about the likes of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who suffered, and rise to parliament member in Netherland, fought for women's right, tried to bring light to the suffering of Muslim women and now have death threats against her life?

What does Hillary Clinton ever stand for? Female values? So, attaching her climb in notoriety at the coat-tail of a unfaithful husband is how these feminists and women deem worthy of admiring. That is a slap in the face of those true feminists that fought for our rights. How people look at these politicians are a joke, these international votes of the most admired people, most of them are empty suits that stands for nothing. What a disappointment.

support HR 1207

A wake up call to the news rooms of America to get back to work writing & printing anything no matter how flimsy, weak or obviously false the story is that trash Sarah Palin.

I can understand people, espescially girls and women, admiring someone like Sarah Palin. After all, she got where she is ON HER OWN. From being a MOM, to the SCHOOL BOARD, to the MAYORS OFFICE, to the GOVERNORSHIP, to VICE PRESIDENT NOMINEE, to AUTHOR. All on her own. No sweet jobs in big Law Firms BECAUSE her HUSBAND is the Attorney General of a State. No PROMOTIONS because your HUSBAND is a Governor. No Coronation to a Senate Seat, in a State that you don't even live in, because your HUSBAND was the President.
Whereas Sarah Palin comes off as an ACHIEVER, MRS. Clintons' "career" seems......Oh, what's the word I'm looking for?.....Oh yeah, PARASITIC. And that's nothing to be admired. And niether is she.

Yet another attempt to prop up Hillary. I seriously doubt the veracity of this "poll". What were the questions? Who were they asked to? How were the questions formed? Did the "poll" actually take place? Please tell me what Clinton has done to make her equal to Sarah Palin in the "most admired" category? As Secretary of State what has Clinton done? For that matter, what did she do as senator of New York. I had the unfortunate burden of living in New York when she took the title of senator. That is all it was: a title. She did nothing for New York. As a matter of fact, with the combination of Clinton/Schumer, New york LOST jobs, lots of them. Now I know I will get all the left wing haters giving me grief because that is what they do. Don't sing it, bring it...WITH FACTS! Leave the name calling and vitriol behind and tell me what she has done for this country.

How in the world did obama get listed as the most admired male? He's an idiot.

I see they used the one good picture of poor ugly duckling Hillary from her book cover. Twenty years later, with elephant legs stuffed into gaudy pant suits and a nervous twitch between hot flashes, she is, therefore she sags. But then, all but Sarah on the girly list are a bit heavy in the haunch, although QE II is excusable. Time to drag out the treadmill, girls.

Popularity & admiration certainly follow political lines.


I would love to see Palin president and Hillary V.P ( only if Hillary became Pro-Life. That means stop advocating the population control agenda.

I can't stand either of them - but at least Clinton (cold, calculating, and ego-maniacal) has more intelligence than God gave an axe handle.

What you just printed is journalistic suicide! The libs are spinning out of control and frothing at the mouth. Palin, one of the most admired women in the country? Wow, you are going to get a drubbing and there going to go over your polling like ants over syrup. Like I've always said, Palin 2012.

Hillary Clinton is the most overated human being in the country. This is a joke!

This must be systemic failure.

IOW: "I didn't ask for this systemic failure! I inherited it from the previous administration."

1,025 Adults... from where? Not a representative number by any means. USA Today is a liberal newspaper. Overall a lame article and polling sample.

Sarah is certainly hotter than Hillary...
Probably more honest as well.

This poll is obviously jacked. How can the country admire Hillary Clinton? She is the polar opposite of what should be admired in a woman. When I think of Hillary, I think of her enabling of her husband's despicable behavior while he was president. She has been a nothing as Secretary of State, possibly being the model of leftist incompetence. Please, Gallup, work out the kinks in you polling procedures.

What happened to my previous comments? Looks like the moderator is removing comments that are right of center.

The fact that Hillary, has been and still is, a favorite among the American people, boggles my mind. The truth be
known, hillary is and always has been a corrupt, profane,
deceitful, power hungry sycophant. She not only degraded her
Secret Serves protectors she used extreme profane language when refering to the American flag. She was tutored and mentored by a San Francisco Communist and by all appearances she wasl a well accomplished student. She is all
PR committed and is phony as hell! She totally incompetent.

what is with the personal attack on one of the males (Glenn Beck)? Isn't journalism supposed to leave personal opinion out of an article unless it is an op-ed piece? While Beck spews his venomous hate for the "liberal media", you just gave him reason to. great job. thanks!

Sorry, I am a Condoleeza Rice, Margaret Thatcher, and Judith Resnik fan myself. These two ladies don't even make the top 100.
Are American women really this desperate for women to look up to? How sad.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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