Mandela and MLK 'The Greatest'

July 03, 2013, 9:54 AM GMT+0

Nelson Mandela comes second only to MLK in greatness out of eight important figures of recent history.

Nelson Mandela is currently in a Johannesburg hospital fighting for his life. The former South African president is widely considered one of the greatest figures of the second half of the 20th century, having led the fight against Apartheid. But where does he stand in the hall of great figures of recent history?

A new YouGov poll shows that the two most prominent fighters against racial discrimination in recent history - Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela - are the two people most likely to be regarded as 'great' by the American public overall.49% say that Nelson Mandela is 'great', only being beaten by Martin Luther King, Jr. who was described as 'great' by 59% of Americans.

As may be expected, opinions among Republicans diverged dramatically from Democrats. Amongst Republican voters, Ronald Reagan (78%) is the most widely regarded as great followed by Margaret Thatcher (56%) and then Martin Luther King (45%). Among Democrats Bill Clinton (50%) is more widely regarded as 'great' than Barack Obama (48%).

Barack Obama was most likely to be described definitively as 'not great', with this view being particularly popular among Republicans (89%), though even 21% of Democrats agreed. Ronald Reagan (36%) and Mikhail Gorbachev (29%) were the least 'great' among Democrats.

Lech Walesa - the Polish trade union leader widely credited with sparking the end of Communism in Europe - produced few opinions either way, with half of Americans expressing no opinion of him.

Complete results are available here.

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