Every year, Gallup asks Americans who they admire the most. In 2019, it was a tie — between two men who are about as different as can be.
Both President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama were chosen as the most admired man in America by 18% of people — the only two who scored in double-digits on the question. (Former first lady Michelle Obama was the top choice among Americans as the most admired woman, with 10% naming her. First lady Melania Trump placed second at 5%.)
The party breakdown on most admired man was, well, exactly how you would think it would be. More than 4 in 10 Republicans (45%) named Trump as the man they admired the most while a similar number of Democrats (41%) named Obama. A similar number of political independents chose Trump (10%) and Obama (12%) as their most admired man. (In the super-weird category, 2% of Democrats said Trump was their most admired man while 3% of Republicans said they admired Obama most. Whaaaaa?)
This is the first time Trump has been America’s most admired man (or at least tied for that honor). In the past two years he finished behind Obama, a somewhat odd result given that of the 72 years that Gallup has been asking the question, the incumbent president has been the most admired man in America in 58 of them. But as Trump has grown slightly more popular — up to 45% in Gallup data — his admiration numbers have increased as well.
(The other men who made the most admired list? Former President Jimmy Carter, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Pope Francis, Bernie Sanders, Adam Schiff, the Dalai Lama, and Warren Buffett. None of them, however, received more than 2% of the vote.)
That Trump and Obama are tied as the most admired man in the country — and that people are deeply divided along partisan lines about that choice — speaks volumes about where we are as a country. Everything, literally everything, is now not just tinged but soaked with partisanship and political rancor. From Ricky Gervais to Colin Kaepernick and back, every single major figure in the culture has seen his or her image and words used to score political points. (Many celebrities have chosen that route willingly.)
Political party, or at least partisan affiliation, has become the sine qua non of our current moment. Who you are, what you like and, yes, who you admire, depends almost entirely on what party you affiliate with. Which, yeah, sounds about right.