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More on the Cal DP Poll

The full text of the Field Poll is now available here. (Prior post is here.) As expected, the second question was, "Which do you prefer as a penalty for someone convicted of first degree murder - the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole?"  If you wanted to give the answer that conforms to current California law (indeed, the law of every U.S. jurisdiction with the death penalty) -- it depends -- you had to break out of the choices offered and volunteer your own. Real support for an answer is far greater than the number who volunteer it in this way.

A stunning result in this poll is the apparent closing of the racial gap in attitudes on the death penalty. On the basic question, polls have generally shown African-Americans about equally divided, but this one comes in with a whopping 63-28 support. This could be a generational shift. Opposition may be stronger among African-Americans old enough to remember the bad old days.

There is an interesting split among Asian groups. Chinese-Americans give the death penalty the greatest support of any ethnic group tallied, 76%, while Korean-Americans give it the lowest, 54%.

Slicing and dicing the electorate 34 ways, a grand total of one group has more opponents than supporters -- "strongly liberal."

Younger people support the death penalty slightly more than older people -- 73% for the under-30 crowd decreasing gradually to 66% for the Medicare-eligible. That is a good sign for the future.

Support among Catholic voters is nearly identical to the population total.

Majorities of both Jerry Brown's and Kamala Harris's supporters are in favor, although the pro-Harris crowd has the lowest of any candidate-supporter group at 53%.

Overall, support for the death penalty remains solid.


DiCamilo's quote in the Union gets it about right that the support for the death penalty is based on the heinousness of the murder, not just on whether it is a first degree murder. It is unfortunate that he does not pose an additiona question in his poll that takes that difference into account. My experience is that the test of someone's attitude about the death penalty does depend on the specific facts of the case, not just the crime/punishment in abstract.

How about Filipina-Americans?????

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