2011.12.07 More popular than Santa

Written by David Green.


Is there anyone in the nation in better standing than Aaron Rodgers? Wait, take it a step further—is there anyone in history more popular than Aaron Rodgers?

It turns out there are a couple historical figures that polled better, but that’s all. Just two.

The polling group Public Policy Polling  (PPP) decided to check out the favorability rating of public officials to see if there’s anyone left who people like. There are quite a lot of poison thoughts out there, and quite a divide among people.

For example, there’s only a handful of U.S. Senators—and maybe a small child’s hand—who are respected by voters on both sides of the divide. Maine senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are about the only ones, and they’re considered independent moderates. So why are we electing so many people on the edges instead of the middle?

Tom Jensen of PPP recently told radio host Brooke Gladstone that his firm likes to have a little fun along with its serious business, so they threw in the name Aaron Rodgers when they polled Wisconsin residents. 

Had I been called, I would have asked “Who is Aaron Rodgers?” That tells you two things: I’m not from Wisconsin and I don’t follow NFL football. Rodgers is the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.

He came through with an 89 percent favorability rating which, according to Jensen, was the highest rating for anyone anywhere in PPP’s history.

That got PPP wondering if there’s anyone who could top Rodgers. They asked for suggestions from the public and and conducted a nation-wide poll that placed the quarterback up against some pretty big contenders, including Santa Claus, Martin Luther King and George Washington.

Well, surely Santa Claus came out ahead. Wrong. Santa came in under 70 percent. Apparently there’s been some disappointment on Christmas mornings past.

“Clearly, he has a lot of folks to work on in order to get his popularity back on the level where he might want it,” Jensen said.

Santa got his worst ratings from both very liberal and very conservative voters. It’s the 18 to 29-year-old group that has the most trouble with Santa, and he loses a lot among Democratic voters.

George Washington come close to Rodgers with an 86 percent favorability rating, but George really falls short among African-Americans. Could it have something to do with the 300 slaves he owned at the time of his death?

Martin Luther King, Jr., had a decent showing at 74 percent, but Republicans and whites in general aren’t as fond of the civil rights leader.

Mohandas Gandhi came through at only 64 percent (really slipping with the conservative vote), and that’s two points better than Steve Jobs (holding steady among the political divide, but not so strong with blacks). 

Both fell short of Mother Teresa (83 percent) who lacks support among male voters.

Did anyone unthrone Aaron Rodgers? There are only two who stood tall among all demographic groups—Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ—but even those two had their detractors.

Jesus came through at 90 percent. The very liberal voters represent his weak area, but even the very conservatives stop at 96 percent. Jesus needs to do some work among the independents, especially the younger ones.

Abe Lincoln polled a 91 percent rating. Oddly, his weakest segment is the African-American vote.

The lesson: Take your team to the Super Bowl and you become beloved at a level unmatched by even the standard American icons.

Actually, there is someone else who comes through ahead of everybody on the list. It’s not exactly a single person. People were also asked for their opinion of themselves and together we came through with a 93 percent rating.

Our opinion of ourselves was weakest among somewhat conservative young men, and the independents are the most unsure about whether or not they like themselves.

This high opinion of ourselves means one of two things, according to the president of PPP. Either we’re a psychologically healthy nation or an arrogant one.

I’m felling pretty good about myself and I’m arrogantly pleased with our high rating. Take that, Aaron Rodgers. I didn’t even know your name.

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