The poll, released Monday, asked respondents what man and woman, living anywhere in the world, they most admired. Rankings from one to 10 were based on total mentions and reported in percentages.
Obama has been the poll's most-admired man since his election in 2008. With 22 percent choosing him, Obama leads his predecessors, George W. Bush, with 5 percent, and Bill Clinton, with 4 percent.
However, Obama's percentage has fallen over the years. In 2008 he led the list with 32 percent and in 2009 with 30 percent.
Rounding out the top 10 most-admired men, with 2 percent or less: former South African President Nelson Mandella, computer tycoon Bill Gates, Pope Benedict XVI, the Rev. Billy Graham, former President Jimmy Carter, talk-show host Glenn Beck and the Dalai Lama.
Hillary Clinton has been the most-admired woman in the poll 15 times since 1992, when she first appeared following her husband's election as president. She leads this year with 17 percent, followed by Palin with 12 percent, Winfrey with 11 percent, and first lady Michelle Obama with 5 percent.
Rounding out the top most-admired women, with 2 percent or less: former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Queen Elizabeth, actress Angelina Jolie, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and, in a three-way tie for ninth place, Burmese democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi and former first ladies Laura Bush and Barbara Bush.
The USA Today-Gallup survey, conducted Dec. 10-12, is based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,019 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.