The Daily Show/YouGov Next Celebrity President Results: The On-Screen Presidents

The Daily Show
August 19, 2020, 12:00 PM UTC

Experience matters to Americans when they think about choosing a celebrity president.  

The top choice in the inaugural The Daily Show/YouGov Next Celebrity President survey has held the office of the president in four Hollywood movies. For good measure he’s also portrayed South African President Nelson Mandela once and God twice.  

Among more than 200 celebrities The Daily Show put forth for the first of its kind poll, 13 have played the president in a movie or on television.  

Morgan Freeman was the top name chosen in a series of head-to-head matchups presented to more than 2,500 US citizens who were asked which they would make president of the United States. Freeman is also the top name among actors who have played the president on-screen. 

Freeman, who occupied the Oval Office in “Deep Impact,” Olympus Has Fallen, “London has Fallen,” and Angel Has Fallen,” won 81 percent of the matchups in which he was an option and has played the Commander-in-Chief in more titles than any other actor on our list. 

Freeman is a bipartisan choice, too. Both Republicans and Democrats favor him (although Independents chose Denzel Washington as their top choice).

Samuel L. Jackson, who played William Alan Moore in the 2014 film Big Game, comes in second, winning 73 percent of his matchups, followed by Harrison Ford, aka President James Marshall in the 1997 blockbuster “Air Force One.” 

Robert Redford appears at No. 4, although unlike others on this list, the actor was portrayed as a fictional character of himself in the 2019 HBO series Watchmen. In the show, the fictionalized President Redford was not portrayed by the real-life actor. Redford, an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump in real life, won 64 percent of his matchups. 

Rounding out our top five is George Clooney, at 64 percent. Clooney played the United States president in “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over,” and is also a vocal critic of the current administration. He was asked last year if he would run for office and gave a definitive answer at the time: "I am not going to get into politics. It doesn't seem like a very logical place for me to be able to apply what skills I have.” 

Martin Sheen — who was one of the best-known fictional presidents on television for his portrayal of President Jed Bartlett on “The West Wing” — won 52 percent of his matchups. 

“Idiocracy" star Terry Crews, plays President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho in the 2006 comedy, won 57 percent of his matchups. 

Other on-screen presidents on our list include Kelsey Grammar (60%), Bill Murray (64%), Gary Sinise (60%), Chris Rock (59%), Andy Garcia (58%), Alec Baldwin (53%), and Jon Voight (49%). 

Methodology: The Daily Show/YouGov survey consisted of 2,586 panelists and ran between August 14 - 18. Every person was randomly assigned to see 30 celebrities, which appeared in 15 head-to-head matchups. For each, respondents were asked to indicate which of the celebrities in the head-to-head matchup they would prefer as the next to become president. For more information, see our methodology page and reach out to uspress@yougov.comOr see the cross tabs here