For the first time in more than 50 years, a U.S. President-elect topped the Gallup Poll's list of most admired men living in the world today.
Incoming president Barack Obama is the man Americans admired the most in the world, hands down, according to the new USA Today/ Gallup Poll survey. Nearly one out of three (32 percent) Americans named Obama as their top pick, way ahead of distant No. 2 selection President George W. Bush, who had only five percent.
Former Republican presidential nominee John McCain held the No. 3 spot with three percent, and Pope Benedict XVI, the Rev. Billy Graham, and former President Bill Clinton tied for the fourth slot with two percent, according to the annual list of Most Admired Man.
Obama is the first President-elect since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 to top the list. Moreover his remarkable 32 percent is much higher than the support other President-elects usually enjoy.
When George W. Bush was President-elect in 2000, he was picked by only five percent of Americans, ranking fourth in the Gallup Poll list of most admired man in the world. In 1992, then President-elect Bill Clinton ranked second behind outgoing president George H.W. Bush, with 15 percent.
Americans' high level of respect for Obama is comparable, but not as high as President George W. Bush's 39 percent following the 9/11 attacks. At that time, Bush's job approval rating was at a high 86 percent.
Besides the honor of being America's most admired man in 2008, Obama will also hold the honor of being the first U.S. president to be presented a Bible by the American Bible Society during his inauguration next month.
Other U.S. presidents have been presented an ABS Bible, but none have had the Bible presented to them during their inauguration.
Obama will be given an official King James Version Personalized Presidential Edition Bible by the 193-year-old American institution.
"This is where faith and culture intersect," said Autumn Black, the public relations director of ABS. "We want to be able to personally support President Obama in his faith walk."
Leading up to the inauguration, a large network of Christians – numbering more than 73,000 – have committed to pray for President-elect Obama to be a good leader during the current times of economic and international turmoil. The presidential prayer effort is organized by best-selling Christian author Max Lucado.
While Obama leads the list of most admired men in the world, his former presidential rival and soon-to-be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held the top spot for the most admired woman in the world (20 percent) in 2008. Clinton is followed by new political star Alaska governor Sarah Palin, with 11 percent.
Media mogul Oprah Winfrey (8 percent), Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (7 percent), and incoming First Lady Michelle Obama (7 percent) rounded out that top five spots on the most admired woman list.
The survey, conducted Dec. 12-14 by USA Today/Gallup Poll, is based on telephone interviews with 1,008 national adults, aged 18 and older. The results were published on Dec. 26, 2008.