Popular doesn’t mean great. Popular means great leader. There’s a huge difference.
Also, the popularity polls i am referring are polls conducted by third parties (gallup, for instance) and therefore aren’t as influenced by strong arming. I think you should research this a bit more. You are allowing your personal beliefs to become fact.
Although, if you control the message you do control perception. Personally, maybe that’s not a bad thing. All of our congress have polls up their ass afraid to move.
In any case, you never answered the question.
great leaders are great leaders because people follow them. If people don't follow them they aren't leaders. What criteria would you use besides popularity?