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Gallup: Death Penalty Support Steady

Gallup is out with its annual poll on the death penalty.  Support remains steady.  Two-thirds express support in the generic question that Gallup has been asking since the 1930s.  In the "how often" question (which I consider a better indication of true support) three-quarters of the people say the death penalty is imposed either about often enough or not often enough. This sum has been rock steady at 71-76% for the 10 years Gallup has been asking the question.

The "too often" number has shrunk to 18%.  That means over a third of the people who answer "no" to the generic question (11% percent of the total) do not think the death penalty is imposed too often. The generic question overstates opposition and understates support.  It is useful primarily as an indicator of relative support trends over time because of the length of time Gallup has been asking it, not as an absolute indicator.

After a four-year hiatus, Gallup has once again asked the opponents' favorite question: "If you could choose between the following two approaches, which do you think is the better penalty for murder, the death penalty or life imprisonment with absolutely no possibility of parole?"  If forced to choose a single punishment for all murderers, I would choose LWOP myself, but that is not the relevant policy question.  With the question so phrased, the LWOP option briefly hit a plurality in 2006 but is now down a shade below the death penalty option.

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