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Santa remains as popular as ever

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In this poll, he's even more popular today than he was a few years ago. What's not to like about the guy who flies through the sky on a sled pulled by reindeer?

And so they do. Year after year, Santa Claus survives the scoffers and the Scrooges and the 6-year-old playground skeptics. He endures belittling commercials that portray him shopping at Target or taking directions from an iPhone. He shrugs off scolds who say his bagful of toys overshadows the reason for the season. Two-thirds of parents with kids under 18 say Santa's an important part of their celebrations this year. Moms, especially, have a soft spot for the man in red — 71 percent of them say he's important, and that's a big jump from 58 percent just five years ago. His overall popularity is up slightly from an AP-AOL poll in 2006, before the recession hit. In these bleaker times of homes lost to foreclosure and parents sweating out their next paychecks, the poll shows Santa riding high with families both wealthy and poor.

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