Pope Francis is Americans' top pick for 'Person of the Year'

December 13, 2013, 2:58 PM GMT+0

Time Magazine has revealed that Pope Francis is their Person of the Year 2013, a result that many, though not most, Americans agree with.

It has only been nine months since Pope Francis was chosen by assembled cardinals in Rome to become the leader of the Catholic Church. Since then he has cut a different figure from most of his predecessors, eschewing the traditional pomp and glamor of the Catholic Church for the more simple trappings that have become central to his public image. He has also refocused the Church's message towards the need to help the poor, though he has not abandoned the Church's stance on issues such as homosexuality and abortion. For these reasons, as well as the potential he has to transform the Catholic Church, he was chosen by Time as Person of the Year 2013.

He was not the only person, however, considered for Person of the Year. Ted Cruz, Bashar Assad and even Miley Cyrus were all on the list of ten finalists that Time would draw the winner from. The latest research from YouGov - conducted before Time announced who had was to be Person of the Year - shows than America's pick was Pope Francis, with 32% of people saying that he should be Person of the Year 2013. The next two most popular options were Barack Obama and Ted Cruz, both getting 13% of the public's support, followed by Edward Snowden with 11%. 26% of people weren't sure who they wanted to be Person of the Year.

Support for Ted Cruz being Person of the Year was largely driven by Republicans, with 26% saying that he should be Person of the Year, versus 30% who said Pope Francis should be. Ted Cruz rocketed to prominence this year after leading the Tea Party's push to fight Obamacare tooth and nail, even at the cost of a federal shutdown if need be. Though the effort was ultimately futile - Republicans are increasingly quiet on the future of efforts to repeal Obamacare - Ted Cruz is now one of the most prominent men in American politics and, as Time notes, is a "vision of the future".

A similar partisan divide centred on Barack Obama, with 25% of Democrats saying that he should be Person of the Year, compared to 37% who said that Pope Francis should be. Support for Pope Francis was higher among Democrats, but part of this may be explained by the backlash Pope Francis is facing from certain conservative circles. Pope Francis recently issued a long letter to Catholics on the future of the Church titled 'The Joy of the Gospel' which, among other things, called upon Catholics to fight for a more equal world without an economy of "exclusion and inequality" that "kills". This assertion - that a market which is too free could cause significant suffering - was criticized by many, including by Rush Limbaugh who said that the document was "pure Marxism".

Support for Pope Francis being named Person of the Year was highest among people in the West (40%) and Democrats (37%) while it was least popular among under-30s (23%) and people in the Northeast (25%). Edward Snowden, another popular choice for Person of the Year, was most popular among Independents (16%) and under-30s (15%), though both of these groups still tended to support Pope Francis for Person of the Year.

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Getty Images

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