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Gallup Poll: 65 Percent of Americans Have Favorable Opinion of Microsoft

Aired June 7, 2000 - 1:29 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: With more Americans buying computers and going online every day, many folks have strong opinions about this Microsoft case.

Let's check in with Gallup Poll Editor in Chief Frank Newport in Princeton, New Jersey on those opinion -- Frank.

FRANK NEWPORT, GALLUP POLL EDITOR IN CHIEF: Well, Lou, the bottom line is the American public has had and continues to have a very positive opinion about Microsoft and Gates and doesn't want the company broken up. We haven't seen, despite all the incredible publicity, particularly since the April ruling by the judge, a lot of change in those attitudes.

Let's show you: This is the basic question about favorable/unfavorable attitudes towards Microsoft the company going all the way back to 1998 when we started tracking it. It's actually gone up, not down in our most recent poll just a few weeks ago: 65 percent of the public says, favorable attitude to Microsoft.

Now, you showed the shot there of Bill Gates, now the chairman of Microsoft. His opinion, actually, we were talking earlier, is actually higher than that -- his favorables -- of Bill Clinton or either of the two major presidential candidates. He ought to run for office; 55 percent favorable in '98. Now Gates is all the way up to 70 percent, roughly -- 69 percent.

So obviously all of this really hasn't affected the image of the chairman and founder of Microsoft. He;s very well liked by the American public.

Now, here's some very interesting factors: We asked, if Microsoft is broken up, would it help or hurt the American economy? And actually, 41 percent, like the Justice Department is arguing, say it would help the economy. Only 32 percent say that it would hurt it. But when we asked the public kind of the bottom-line question, Lou and Kyra, should the company be broken up? a few months ago, and in May when we asked the question, no, says the public. Our most recent attitudes, 34 percent say, yes; over half say that it should not.

By the way, when we break out computer users and those that are following it closely, all of them -- actually more so -- say it shouldn't be broken up. That's the context for this afternoon's announcement. Back to you in Atlanta.

WATERS: Frank, I tried to follow closely there. Is there a dichotomy there? I mean, they don't want the company broken up, or they do want the company broken up? They like it the way it is but they want it broken up? I don't quite understand.

NEWPORT: Yes, here -- there is a little bit of a paradox. The American public, as we showed you there, says they do not want Microsoft to be broken up. They said it in November, they said it now. Over 50 percent said, no, don't break the company up.

WATERS: But it would help the economy, they think.

NEWPORT: Paradoxically, they agree with the Justice Department, yes, the idea in general sounds like it might help. But that's kind of like saying Bill Clinton committed the things the impeachment people said that he did, however we don't want him impeached. Same kind of attitudes, I think, now from the American people.

WATERS: OK, Frank Newport, Princeton, New Jersey.

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