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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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Judging by the comments of hate-mongering right wing types on Hillary and the comments on Sarah by ugly-liberals, who want to imitate the right wing in their hate mongering but failing at it, the country is not headed in the right direction. We have become a "Nation of idiots by idiots and for idiots"!

Evil -vs.- clueless. Geez.

one's a self-made,family oriented success story. the other is an opportunist who should've divorced but instead rode her husband's coat tails. any self respecting feminist should be sickened by the comparison.

I take it Palin actually won. 1 point? Yeah, right.

What is an African-American, Mexican-American, etc...?
Why are there no American-Africans, American-Mexicans?
The point is, if you are not an "American" then go back to Africa or Mexico, leave, get out and go back to your third world dictatorships. If you want to become an American, then stay. We are glad to have you. I am tired of apologizing for being a White American Male and having Obama apologize for my country. If he does not like my country then leave, get out, he will not be missed.

Did I hear on CNN, that their Babe, Michelle Obama, was woman most admired. Than I look at the Gallap polls, and find that Hillary and Palin are top 1-2, place while, her supreme, Michelle, is now below Oprahaha...Whose polls are more correct? I feel so sorry for Michelle, thrown into this wild circus of politics. I really feel she was not enthusiastic to be First Lady. She looks so unhappy!!!!She does not seem to like to lose, probably would have been a poor loser. I guess one pays the price for fame and fortune. They lift them up to bring them down, in the long run. Laura Bush was the real thing, what one saw is what we got. She had integrety!!!

What goes around often comes around full circle. From the very first time I heard Palin speak I was impressed and in spite of Stupid people calling her Stupid and all the Idiotic Left leaning MSN tactics of stalking to destroy her, it has backfired on the fools as she comes out looking like a genuine person who really cares about America. She is loaded with the wisdom and gumption to shake things up and make sensible decisions pertaining to the most plausible direction this country NEEDS to take... I'm still angry at Charles Gibson and Katie Courac for the hatchett job they attempted as if ALL Americans are as gullible as those who voted for the Chicago "Lawyer, which is also one reason why I'd never vote for Hillary.. Lawyers attend School to learn to twist and lie with acute clarity among themselves and the system Daily and still some people "Think" they can be Presidential?

I didn't vote for Bill Clinton but I came to admire him somewhat for his ability to roll with the punches and after the last election I found a little respect for Hillary. Obama and His cloaking machine leaves me speechless with contempt for the tilted vetting process and low class Leftist news disorganizations.

This is a great comparison: Palin the true feminist got where she is by her own hard work, guts and determination, while being a successful wife and mother (judging by her marriage and kid's devotion). Hillary got where she is by way of being married to a successful politician, carpetbagging to an open friendly Senate seat, and crooked underhanded political dealing (Rose law firm records, FBI files on opponents, firing and harassing innocent travel office employees). Her role of wife and mother pails in comparison too. No wonder Ellen Goodman resigned, after decades of being a lib feminist, she couldn't stand having to face the future writing about these two.

Who the heck goes and votes on these polls? Cut me some slack. Hillary is in charge of the State Department. The same State Department that gives Visa's to terrorists! And she just got done promissing 100 million to third world countries to curb Green House Gases in Copenhagen - which we all know won't go for that. This is YOUR Tax dollars hard at work destroying what made America great. The new world order in America run by American Idol worshipers. Sad day!

Just an observation from a Canuck.

2012 could see Ms. Clinton and Ms. Palin as the candidates. That or 2016.

Interesting times.

A resident of America's Hat©

i suspect the margin of error would make sarah palin the winner, 4% error is always favored toward liberals.

Tiger Woods tied Bill Clinton!

Michelle Obama received a 4%, which is where her husband's approval rating will be by the end of the year. Go Sarah Palin!!!!

Sarah Palin is over-rated. She has a BA in Journalism... How could she possibly be qualified to be President? She doesn't have nearly enough experience or education to be President, especially compared to Hillary and Obama.
She's also very self-centered, doing everything she can to absorb the lime light.
To all Palin Supporters, I wouldn't get your hopes up.

Where is Hillary? It seem like George Mitchell and her husband are doing the job of Sec. of State. So much for affirmative action. How appropriate that Tiger and Bill tied for tenth and will have to share the honors. I am sure it is not the first thing they have to share.

This should be a guide for Clinton to follow until 2012. Have the mainstream media trash her with more intensity than they have done and are doing to Sarah Palin. What the mainstream media says, America disbelieves.

Sarah Palin is the right person at the right time. She is a real person that many of us can identify with. She can vocalize the concerns that many of us hold and I believe if we put her in as President she can put the country back on the right course.

When I look around, there are not many other rays of hope out there and maybe it is unfair to Sarah, but we desperately need her to be the leader she is. I will vote for her for President and will do something I have not done and that is to actively campaign.

Keep up the good work Sarah. As you have seen at the book signings, there are a lot of us out here that need you.

The idea that serial adulterer Clinton is included makes the whole most-admired list absurd.

I read 1 comment that Obama doesn't have appreciation for our forefathers, neither do I. They came to a country inhabited by people that had a lifestyle that was different than theirs, so they defeated them, and took their country and made it theirs. Would you feel the same way if Hitler had succeeded and took "your" country away from you and made you follow his lifestyle? The Indians had no slaves, and a very few went over to the new rulers. I also think Palin is more in touch than Hillary, her book shows what her heart is telling her. Hillary does have some good points and they don't all come from Bill.

comments from person writing as Howard L Kuhn: Howard my ancestors came to this country 400 years ago, yours probably less than a hundred. You don't tell me how to describe myself, if anything I tell you. You, "unidentified american", need to go back to where YOU came from.

Jayne, if Sarah was such a great mom, why does her daugher have a "baby daddy" instead of a husband. Even me, a woman of African descent (European too, by the way - so can I go back to Europe too?) wonder the why of that. A governor's daughter!

Michelle has something holding her back and that is her race. It tells people that blacks are still hated in this country, even though there is one in the White House. We haven't got over racism at all.

I am for Sarah. She is beautiful. She is smart. She is a real lady.

I have to wonder what the IQ would be of a person who actually looks up to a moron like Sarah Palin. I'm not trying to be mean, but the facts don't always permit charity and anyone who has seen this woman interviewed knows she is not educated or intelligent.

After 8 years of the idiotic George W, the GOP managed to find the one politician even dumber than the former White House resident. This would indicate that many Americans are not very demanding about their leadership and do not value intelligence. Or worse, that the country is just getting dumber and dumber as the rightwingers embrace with greater zeal their silly doctrine that the imaginary master of the universe is their best friend and that his poorly constructed horror anthology should carry greater weight in governance than logic or intelligence.

A Sarah Palin presidency would be quite a landmark... it would indicate that Americans have finally become too stupid to be allowed to vote. Self-governance simply doesn't work in " abattoir full of retarded children."

And so our Constitutional Republic is in danger of being destroyed not by war or usurpation, but by a reckless reliance on mysticism and an adamant embrace of mutual stupidity.

So Hillary Clinton is only driven by fame, not Sarah Palin? They are both publicity whores. BOTH on late night on NBC.

Yes,yes, yes!
the best.
SHe's earned it
keeps on earning....a nice long record. Mrs. Palin makes my list too. Now suck it up
narrow minded sons of witches...

One of the most depressing aspects gleaned from comments regarding the above article, is the realization that most of the respondents have little or no conception of what they are talking about.
Most seem barely able to express themselves coherently, not unlike an unruly crowd at an early 20th Century lynching.
No wonder our country is fast approaching third world status.
Our broken educational system is outputting millions of substandard, I mean graduates, with little “thinking,” but great, "follower" ability.
As in other cultures, these would be the unfortunates who would go on to become the suicide bombers for their more learned handlers.

President Obama he is amazing, lets hope he never makes a mistake.....

"admire" is a strong word.

Howard Kuhn, I guess you would like for us to leave "your" country. The Mexican/Indian felt the same way and you see how that turned out. Black people were "imported" and we ain't goin nowhere...why don't you leave?


Liberals don't wish Palin would go away. Nothing in the world makes the right look stupider than her (possibly Glenn Beck?). Keep your "death panels" and "I'm not a quitter, I quit"s coming Sarah! We'll keep not electing you while morons waste their vote on you!

This is obscene! To compare a smart, accomplished, well-educated woman like Hillary, who was helpmate to a president, and who is now one of the highest-ranking U.S. officials -- to an ignorant Alaskan redneck like Palin!

She's nothing but an opportunistic bimbo on the make, cashing in big-time after having been put on the national ticket ( by John McCain, desperately selling what's left of his soul to court the far-far-right. Palin is a perfect example of Mary McCarthy's immortal mot: "Every word she says is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'"

Oh John, Why does Sarah make you gag? Is she too tough for you, or what?

And those who don't know GLENN BECK, where have you been living, in a cave?

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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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