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23% Name Pope Francis Most Influential, 21% Say Obama

Time magazine named Pope Francis its “Person of the Year” last week, and nearly one-in-four Americans agrees with that pick.

Rasmussen Reports gave Americans a similar list of influential people worldwide, and 23% said Pope Francis was the most influential person in 2013. But the new national telephone survey finds that nearly as many (21%) felt President Obama was the most influential. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Eleven percent (11%) name Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who is one of the most prominent politicians aligned with the Tea Party movement. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden is seen as the most influential by eight percent (8%).

Four percent (4%) think Russian President Vladimir Putin was the most influential person this year, while three percent (3%) say that of both House Speaker John Boehner and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. “Twerking” singer Miley Cyrus and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton each receive two percent (2%) of the vote, while Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai each earned one percent (1%) support.

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on December 11-12, 2013 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.  

Most Americans, especially Catholics, have a favorable opinion of Pope Francis and believe he’s improved public perceptions of the Catholic Church.

Daily approval ratings for President Obama dipped sharply during the disastrous rollout of his national health care law, but have improved slightly in recent days.

Women are even more likely than men to choose Pope Francis as the most influential. Men are twice as likely as women to pick Cruz.

Adults over 65 feel even more strongly than younger adults that both the pope and the president had the most influence in 2013.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of Democrats believe Obama was the most influential, while just seven percent (7%) of Republicans and 16% of adults not affiliated with either party agree. While 24% of Republicans say the Pope had the most influence, 19% believe that of Cruz.

Most blacks (55%) see Obama as the most influential person of the year. White and other minority adults tend to lean toward the Pope.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Likely Republican Voters have a favorable opinion of Cruz, including 30% who view the senator Very Favorably.  Among all voters, 31% view Cruz favorably, while 40% share an unfavorable opinion of him.

Only 18% of U.S. voters have a favorable opinion of Putin. 

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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