A new Harris interactive poll asked 2,634 Americans who they admire enough to call a hero. American adults (age 18 and over) spontaneously named President Barack Obama as that person.
Obama came out on top. Jesus, the King of Glory, came in second on a list that includes God, Mahtma Gandhi and George Washington.
Other historic or notable figures making the top 10 were Martin Luther King Jr., Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Abraham Lincoln, John McCain, John F. Kennedy, U.S. Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger and Mother Teresa.
The Harris Poll, conducted online between January 12-19, 2009 just ahead of President Obama’s inauguration, was released on Thursday. According to the Harris Poll respondents named their heroes randomly instead of being shown or read a list of people to choose from.
“The fact that President Obama is mentioned more often than Jesus Christ should not be misinterpreted,” The Harris Poll clarified in its report. “No list was used and nobody was asked to choose between them.”
Evangelist Billy Graham was tied with former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for the 13th slot. At the 16th spot in the poll, George Washington, Bill Clinton and Colin Powell tied.
God ranked 11th between Mother Teresa and Hillary Clinton. Condoleezza Rice made 12th and Sarah Palin came in 21st.
Of the multiple reasons participants gave to explain their choices of heroes and the ones most cited was, "Doing what's right regardless of personal consequences" with 89 percent, "Not giving up until the goal is accomplished" with 83 percent and "Doing more than what other people expect of them," with 82 percent. Also popular were "Overcoming adversity" and "Staying level-headed in a crisis."
In 2001, when the first Harris poll was conducted asking this question Jesus came in first followed by Martin Luther King, Colin Powell, John F. Kennedy and Mother Teresea.