Most Admired Men and Women in 2018

December 29, 2018 by Douglas A. McIntyre

Since 1946, the Gallup polling company has asked Americans which public figures they admire the most. The results each year are broken into men’s and women’s categories. Former President Barack Obama finished first on the list of men for 2018. Former First Lady Michelle Obama topped the list of women. In doing so, she moved ahead of Hillary Clinton, who topped the list of most-admired women for 17 years.

Michelle Obama was the choice of 15% of respondents, while Clinton fell to third with 4%, behind Oprah Winfrey, who was the selection of 5%.

Gallup has surveyed which men and women are admired the most every year for over seven decades, with the exception of 1976.

Many of those at the top of the list are not American. Queen Elizabeth has been in the top 10 women for 50 years, which is a record. This year’s top 10 men include the Dalai Lama, who is the spiritual leader of Tibet, and Pope Francis.

President Obama is on an impressive run of his own. He has held the top spot for 11 years, going back to when he was still president-elect. Of those who picked a man in the survey, Obama received 19% of votes. He is closing in a milestone. If Obama tops the list one more time, he’ll match Dwight Eisenhower’s 12 non-consecutive years in that position.

There were politicians on both the lists of most admired men and women. President Donald Trump was second for the fourth time. He was the choice of 13% of those polled who answered about men. The women’s roster includes departing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who many believe is the most powerful political figure in Europe. She has held office since 2005. Nancy Pelosi, who will likely become Speaker of the House again, is also on the list. So is Nikki Haley, who is the outgoing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

These are the most admired men and women of 2018.

Women:

Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

Nancy Pelosi
> Pct. mentioning: 1%
> Role: Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives
> Age: 78
> Nationality: American

Nancy Pelosi has held public office since 1987, when she was elected to represent California’s Eighth District in Congress. The California Democrat has since held numerous prominent positions, including House Minority Whip, House Minority Leader, and Speaker of the House.

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Source: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Malala Yousafzai
> Pct. mentioning: 1%
> Role: activist, Nobel Prize laureate
> Age: 21
> Nationality: Pakistani

Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel laureate when she received the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2014 for her work promoting education for females. She currently lives in the United Kingdom but continues to travel the world fighting for her cause.

Source: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Nikki Haley
> Pct. mentioning: 1%
> Role: U.S. Ambassador to United Nations, former Governor of South Carolina
> Age: 46
> Nationality: American

Nikki Haley proved to be a strong-willed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations after her confirmation on Jan. 24, 2017. Before representing the U.S. at the U.N., Haley was the first female governor of South Carolina and the first Indian-American to serve in that role.

Source: Getty Images

Ellen DeGeneres
> Pct. mentioning: 2%
> Role: talk show host, comedian
> Age: 60
> Nationality: American

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres has become a television powerhouse, hosting her hugely popular talk show “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” since 2003. In addition to her numerous commercial and media accomplishments, DeGeneres was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2016 partially in recognition of her LGBT advocacy.

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Source: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
> Pct. mentioning: 2%
> Role: Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
> Age: 85
> Nationality: American

At 85, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one of the oldest people on the list, and among the most resilient. The Supreme Court jurist was discharged from Sloan Kettering Cancer Center earlier this month after surgery to remove two malignant nodules in her left lung. Prior to that procedure, the top court’s oldest member had been hospitalized after she broke several ribs. Ginsburg has also endured bouts with colorectal and pancreatic cancer, and has a heart stent.

Source: Olaf Kosinsky / Wikimedia Commons

Angela Merkel
> Pct. mentioning: 2%
> Role: Chancellor of Germany
> Age: 64
> Nationality: German

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is widely regarded as Europe’s most powerful leader. Although admired by many, Merkel announced this past year that she would step down as chancellor in 2021 following electoral setbacks for her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

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Source: Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth
> Pct. mentioning: 2%
> Role: Queen of the United Kingdom
> Age: 92
> Nationality: British

Queen Elizabeth is the longest-reigning monarch in British history. During her 65 years on the throne, the queen has tried to strike a balance between being more receptive to the needs of her people while preserving the customs and traditions of the British crown.

Source: Getty Images

Melania Trump
> Pct. mentioning: 4%
> Role: First Lady of the United States
> Age: 48
> Nationality: American

Born in Slovenia, Melania Trump has become one of the most iconic women in the United States following the election of President Donald Trump. As First Lady, Melania Trump has focused on numerous issues facing children – including physical and emotional well-being, cyber bullying, and opioid abuse – through her Be Best public awareness campaign.

Source: lorie shaull / Wikimedia Commons

Hillary Clinton
> Pct. mentioning: 4%
> Role: former First Lady, U.S. Senator, presidential candidate
> Age: 71
> Nationality: American

Hillary Clinton has been at the forefront of public life in America for a generation. After serving as First Lady for eight years during President Bill Clinton’s tenure, Hillary created a political career of her own. She became the first former First Lady to win public office after she became senator from New York. She built upon that success by becoming Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, and then became the first woman to run as a major party candidate for President of the United States.

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Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Oprah Winfrey
> Pct. mentioning: 5%
> Role: talk show host
> Age: 64
> Nationality: American

Besides hosting a successful television talk show and owning her own network, Oprah is an actress, film producer, philanthropist, and activist. Forbes magazine said she was the richest African American of the 20th century and Life magazine called her the most influential woman of her generation. Oprah helped get a bill passed by Congress that established a national database of convicted child abusers. She also championed the presidential campaign of Barack Obama in 2008.

Source: Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

Michelle Obama
> Pct. mentioning: 15%
> Role: former First Lady, writer
> Age: 54
> Nationality: American

After finishing second to Hillary Clinton three times, Michelle Obama was declared this year’s “Most Admired Woman.” After working as a lawyer and university administrator, Obama entered the public eye when she became the first African-American First Lady in 2009. As First Lady she was an advocate for healthy children, military service members, higher education, and international female education. Since leaving the White House, she authored a best-selling autobiography and is currently touring the country to promote it.

Men:

Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

Mike Pence
> Pct. mentioning: 1%
> Role: 48th vice president of the United States, former governor of Indiana
> Age: 59
> Nationality: American

Mike Pence, a former radio talk show host, has carved out a career as a staunch conservative Republican. As Governor of Indiana, Pence took positions regarding same-sex marriage and abortion that rankled his opponents. However, Pence is seen as an even-keeled, reasonable politician who got credit for Indiana’s strong economy and triple-A credit rating.

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images

Elon Musk
> Pct. mentioning: 1%
> Role: technology entrepreneur, engineer
> Age: 47
> Nationality: American

Elon Musk’s work as a visionary entrepreneur and engineer has made him one of the world’s most admired billionaires. Musk currently leads rocket and spacecraft company SpaceX and electric car and energy company Tesla. He has founded numerous other companies as well.

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images

Joe Biden
> Pct. mentioning: 1%
> Role: 47th vice president of the United States, former U.S. senator from Delaware
> Age: 76
> Nationality: American

In an era of increasing political polarization, Joe Biden is one of the most liked politicians in the United States because of his easy-going demeanor and ability to find common ground with Republicans. He is also admired because he has endured more than his share of tragedies. About a month after he was elected to the Senate in 1972, his first wife and infant daughter were killed in a car accident, and his two sons were seriously hurt. Biden also lost his son Beau to brain cancer in 2015.

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Source: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Dalai Lama
> Pct. mentioning: 1%
> Role: Buddhist spiritual leader
> Age: 83
> Nationality: Tibetan

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, is recognized for speaking out in support of autonomy for Tibet in the face of Chinese aggression. Pressure from China forced the Dalai Lama into exile in 1959. He has been a staunch advocate for better understanding and respect among the different faiths of the world, bringing with him messages of responsibility, love, compassion and kindness. For his efforts, the Dalai Lama received the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.

Source: Steven Ferdman / Getty Images

Bill Clinton
> Pct. mentioning: 1%
> Role: 42nd president of the United States
> Age: 72
> Nationality: American

Former President Bill Clinton ranks among the 10 most admired men in the United States for the 26th time this year. Though Clinton’s time in the White House was not without controversy, he was a popular president who continues to gain admiration for the charity work of the Clinton Foundation, a non-profit he founded in 1997.

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Bernie Sanders
> Pct. mentioning: 1%
> Role: U.S. Senator from Vermont
> Age: 77
> Nationality: American

After working for a quarter century in Vermont politics – holding offices such as Mayor of Burlington, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and U.S. Senator – Bernie Sanders became a household name following his 2016 campaign to be the Democratic Party candidate the presidency. Running on a platform of progressive politics, Sanders won 23 Democratic primaries and caucuses, thanks in large part to his enthusiastic and motivated base.

Source: Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill Gates
> Pct. mentioning: 1%
> Role: technology entrepreneur, philanthropist
> Age: 63
> Nationality: American

By co-founding Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software company, and becoming one of the world’s richest people, Bill Gates would have earned the admiration of millions of people. But that wasn’t enough for one of Harvard’s most celebrated dropouts. In 2014, he stepped down as chairman of Microsoft to devote more time to the charitable work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Source: Giulio Origlia / Getty Images

Pope Francis
> Pct. mentioning: 2%
> Role: head of the Catholic Church
> Age: 82
> Nationality: Argentine

Along with the Dalai Lama, Pope Francis is one of two spiritual leaders to rank among the most admired men in the United States. With more than 50 million American adults identifying as Catholic, it may not come as a surprise that the leader of Catholic Church is so widely admired. It remains to be seen whether Francis will rank among the 10 most admired men 27 times, to match his predecessor Pope John Paul II.

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Source: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

George W. Bush
> Pct. mentioning: 2%
> Role: 43rd president of the United States
> Age: 72
> Nationality: American

Though former President George W. Bush’s approval rating declined steadily over his two terms in office, after peaking in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, he remains one of the most admired men in America. Today, Bush uses his name and influence to support a range of charitable causes, including helping veterans transition back into civilian life. George W. Bush is one of four U.S. presidents to rank among the 10 most admired men of 2018.

Source: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Donald Trump
> Pct. mentioning: 13%
> Role: 45th president of the United States
> Age: 72
> Nationality: American

While he has provoked the ire of many, President Donald Trump also has numerous fans who applaud his unorthodox methods. Since his surprise win over Hillary Clinton in 2016, Trump has been a near non-stop presence in the media, thanks in large part to the numerous controversies during his administration, which is often said to be run like a reality television show. The President’s populist policies have appealed to millions of Americans who admire the former businessman and his efforts to fight against “the swamp.”

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Source: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Barack Obama
> Pct. mentioning: 19%
> Role: 44th president of the United States
> Age: 57
> Nationality: American

The winner and still champion as the most admired man is Barack Obama. The 44th president of the United States has held the top spot in the Gallup poll rankings for 11 years, which include his time as president-elect. After his presidency, Obama has kept a lower profile, writing books and accepting highly paid speaking engagements. For the most part, Obama has adhered to the tradition of not speaking out against the current president. However, he has criticized President Trump for reversing his administration’s policy initiatives on climate change and the nuclear arms accord with Iran.